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A tribute to Kebatlamang Morake

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Just last week I started a series whose purpose is to celebrate our heroes and heroines during their lifetime; not when they have departed this world. There is no doubt that Kebatlamang Morake was going to be part of the series.

Unfortunately, before I could celebrate him as a living hero he, according to the Chairperson of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Communications Committee, Thapelo Pabalinga, departed this world on 29th August 2017 after a long illness. This fallen hero deserves not just an obituary, but a tribute. Though I am unqualified to write a tribute for such a giant of a man I will try my best to steal from the writings of my fellow writers to write such a tribute.      

Born on 21st November 1930 in Tonota village, Morake, from 1939 to 1947, went to Tonota School. He then, after completing standard six, trained as a teacher at Kanye Teacher Training College, completing his studies in 1950. From 1951 to 1952 he studied at Tiger Kloof Institution, Vriburg, South Africa, where he obtained his Junior Certificate (JC). Morake is on record as saying the former Director of Education, Harold Jowitt, who was then based in Mafikeng had been so impressed by his performance that he offered him scholarship to study at Tigerkloof.

He is quoted as saying "I enrolled for the three year Junior Certificate but completed it in two years instead. I schooled with the likes of BaNgwaketse Paramount Chief, Kgosi Seepapitso IV and the first Attorney General, the late Moleleki Mokama, among others." Morake did not, however, spend all his time studying. He knew the value of sports and recreation. In his younger days, he was a celebrated footballer who played for Tafa, Tafic and Gaborone United football clubs. Morake began teaching at Tonota in 1953 and spent eleven years there, rising through the ranks to the position of head teacher, a venerated position at the time. He joined the BDP in 1962 when he was still a teacher. 

In 1965 he went for further studies in England where he read for an advanced teachers’ course at the Institute of Education, Newcastle-on-Tyne, a feat which could only be achieved by truly exceptional students. Though no doubt a teacher at heart, his colleagues so in him a politician and leader. In preparation for a political career he was, after independence, sent by his party, the BDP, for political training courses in Britain, West Germany, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. On his return, he was, in 1965, appointed the first Executive Secretary of the BDP. He was also appointed the Editor of the party newspaper, Therisanyo. From January to March 1967 he was sent to the United States of America (USA) as a guest of the State Department studying Political Administration and Organisation.

Reportedly, during his tenure as BDP Executive Secretary and Editor of the BDP newspaper, Therisanyo, Morake ardently promoted and defended the party’s policies and programmes. It is obviously because of this that he attracted the attention of the then president, the late Sir Seretse Khama who is reported to have held Morake in such high regard that he often delegated him to officiate at events on his behalf. Consequently, after the 1969 general elections, he was nominated and elected as specially elected Member of Parliament (MP) after which he was appointed Assistant Minister responsible for Information and Broadcasting Services in the Office of the President (OP).

In 1970, while in a study tour of Great Britain, he studied Broadcasting Services, augmenting his journalism acumen which had hitherto been hinged mainly on information services. In an interview on 21st July 2005 with Mmegi’s veteran journalist, Ryder Gabathuse, Morake said a major breakthrough in his political career came in 1971 following the appointment of former Mmadinare MP, Amos Dambe, as an ambassador to USA. He contested and won the Mmadinare parliamentary by-election after which he was appointed Assistant Minister in the then Ministry of Local Government and Lands, working under the late Englishman Kgabo. The following year, he became a full cabinet minister in the same ministry.

In 1974 Morake won parliamentary elections after which he was appointed Minister of Education, a ministry he would serve for fifteen years, becoming the longest serving Minister of Education in Botswana. According to Gabathuse, he was proud that the record is yet to be broken. The fifteen years that Morake spent as Minister of Education was perhaps the most productive in the development of Botswana’s education system. It was during this time that Community Junior Secondary Schools were establishment. If there is anyone who deserved an honorary Doctorate it is Morake.

According to Gabathuse, Morake has stated that these schools came as a result of the recommendation of the first education commission which he says he ensured was implemented. Among his other achievements were the expansion of the secondary school education; and the introduction of pension for teachers. During his days in Parliament, he became popular for using the Kalanga analogy of ‘shololaviya’, which directly translates to mean one who spends the whole day skinning an animal, to make the point that development is not an event, but a process and that a solution to a problem creates other problems elsewhere.

Morake has also served this country as Minister of Health from 1989 to 1991 and Minister of Agriculture from 1991 to 1994. Unfortunately, in 1994, he lost the Selebi-Phikwe constituency. In the same year his wife died. However, as a true disciple of the BDP, Morake has, despite losing the elections, always remained a committed BDP member. He did not, like some of his fellow democrats, defect from the BDP, not even in 2010 when the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) splintered from the BDP.

Morake has, to the best of my knowledge, lived a life of virtue in both his public and personal life. I am not aware of any scandal he was involved in. He may have lived his final days with neither gold nor silver, but he departs this world a virtuous men.
The question is: what did we, as Batswana, do to appreciate this gift of a life that God had blessed us with? Can we not have used a tenth of what we have spent in his funeral preparations to make his life a little better, especially during his final days?

We have such other gifts as Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe, Michael Dingake, David Magang, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Gilson Saleshando, Dr. Margret Nasha, Ntombi Setshwaelo, Gladys Kokorwe, Professor Lydia Nyathi-Saleshando, Daniel Kwelagobe, Ephraim Lepetu Setshwaelo to mention but just a few. Are we going to wait until their demise before we can celebrate them? Are we going to let them depart uncelebrated like Sir Ketumile Masire, Professor Thomas Tlou, Dr. Kenneth Koma, Paul Rantao, Mareledi Giddie, Maitshwarelo Dabutha, Klaas Motshidisi, Kgosi Linchwe II, Kgosi Seepapitso IV, Chapson Jabavu Butale, Clara Olsen, Eitlhopha Mosinyi to mention but a few?

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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