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Celebrating our heroes and heroines: Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

The week before last we celebrated Michael Dingake. Sadly, last week we lost one of our heroes and heroines, Kebatlamang Morake, for whom we had to, after wiping our tears, write a tribute.

This week we celebrate yet another of our heroes and heroines, Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe, daughter of Moruti Tibe Chiepe and S. T. Chiepe (nee Sebina). Gaositwe Keagakwa Tibe Chiepe was born on 20th October 1922 in Serowe, seventy five years after Dr. David Livingstone introduced Western education among Batswana at Kolobeng in 1847. Writing a celebration for such a giant as Dr. Chiepe is indeed a toll order. Writing for Mmegi newspaper, Jerry Kai-Lewis said “the task seems impregnable when one considers her many accomplishments…”

He continued to say “…How does one do justice to a life and career replete with landmarks at every juncture? One avenue could be to look at her life against the backdrop of the issues and prevailing social attitudes of the day”. Dr. Chiepe’s colorful educational path started at Serowe Primary School. At the end of her primary school she was the best student in the country and was offered a bursary for her secondary education at Tiger Kloof near Vryburg in the Cape Colony, South Africa.

She later studied at University of Fort Hare where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Education, becoming the first Motswana woman to earn a Diploma and college Degree.  She, in 1958, went to the University of Bristol, England, for a Master's degree, becoming the first Motswana woman to earn a postgraduate degree. Demonstrating her love for Education, her Masters’ Degree thesis was entitled "An Investigation of the Problems of Popular Education in the Bechuanaland Protectorate in Light of a Comparative Study of Similar Problems in the Early Stages of English Education and in the Development of Education in Yugoslavia and Uganda."

Having started her education the year her father died she no doubt, with only her mother to fend for her, faced an uphill battle in the pursuance of her education. This more so that it was during an era when it was, owing to our patriarchal society, not easy for a girl child to thrive in her educational path. She was awarded an honorary degree from DePaul University, United States. She began her career in the Bechuanaland Protectorate Government in the Department of Education and was one of the first two Africans appointed to an administrative position as Education Officer in the colonial government.

Her granddaughter, Moduduetso Lecoge, was right in asserting through her play, which premiered on 14th to 16th April 2016 at Moving Space (at Maru-a-Pula School), that  her grandmother was a woman of many firsts. She has had an illustrious civil service career. She was the first female Education Officer of Botswana. She served as assistant from 1948 to 1953; Education Officer from 1948 to 1953; and Education Officer (with administration and inspectorate duties) from 1953 to 1962.

From 1962 to 1965 Dr. Chiepe served as Senior Education Officer. She became Deputy Director of Education from 1965 to 1967; and Director of Education from 1968 to 1970. Dr. Chiepe also had time for civil society service. She was National Deputy Commander of Girl Guides in 1953, 1957, and 1963. She, in 1981, became Chairperson of the Botswana Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). From 1981 to 1983 she served as Chairperson of the Africa Region of the CPA.
She was, in 1973, admitted as a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1982 she served as Honorary President of the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS). In 1984 she was appointed Patron of the Forestry Association of Botswana (FAB).

Dr. Chiepe was also a woman of many firsts in politics. She was, in 1974, appointed by the late president, Sir Seretse Khama, as the first female cabinet minister, having been elected as a Specially-Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP). Dr. Chiepe proved her popularity with the electorate when she was, in a by-election in 1977, popularly elected to Parliament representing the Serowe South constituency in the Central District of Botswana. Dr. Chiepe is no doubt Botswana’s most decorated career diplomat. She has, from 1970 to 1974, served as High commissioner to the United Kingdom and Nigeria and Ambassador to the then   West Germany, France, Denmark,  Norway, Belgium,   Sweden and the  European Economic Community (EEC).

She actively participated in negotiations with EEC for Lome I, Lome II, and Lome IV and was Chairperson of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Council of Ministers. During her tenure in the Diplomatic service Chiepe traveled widely in Southern Africa, Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States of America(USA), Canada, China, the Caribbean, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the Pacific Islands. In 1994 she came back home, serving as Minister of Trade and Industry From 1974 to 1977. From 1977 to 1984 she served as Minister of Mines & Natural Resources. In 1984, she went back to diplomatic service but now as Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position she held until 1994.

In 1994 Chiepe went back to the field for which she was trained, Education. She served as Minister of Education between 1994 and 1999 when she retired from the public service after nearly thirty years of country commitment and honour. Dr. Chiepe the Intellectual and Educator, was, together with such stalwarts as the late Kebatlamang Morake, instrumental in the formulation Botswana’s education system. As a diplomat, politician, and cabinet minister she contributed to the development of Botswana’s domestic and foreign policy.

Hers has been a life of selfless service to one’s country. This has not gone unnoticed since she has obtained honorary doctorate degrees from the Universities of Bristol and DePaul. She was also awarded national honors by both Great Britain and Botswana. She was named Chief Councillor of the Royal Order of King Sobhuza II by Swaziland. The Botswana government needs to be commended for acknowledging Dr. Chiepe’s contribution to Botswana’s development. She has been awarded the Presidential Order of Merit and the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service.

Dr. Chiepe has also been acknowledged internationally. Her awards include the Commander of Royal Order of Polar Star from the King of Sweden, Member of the Order of the British Empire, Honorary Doctor of Education from the University of Fort Hare, Honorary Doctor of Literature and Philosophy from the University of Chicago in the U.S and Honorary Doctor of Laws from Bristol University. Few mortals remain in the public service for so long almost without blemish. This is what Dr. Chiepe has been. It is such people we should celebrate during their lifetime, not when they have departed.

Where ever she is, her late mother, whom she says “… was a wonderful woman who always seemed to have an answer for every eventuality and her answer would always be appropriate…”, would indeed be proud of her. It is for such people that our schools, roads and hospitals should be named after. It is for such people that a hero and heroines acre should be established for their burial. It is for such people that a Hall of Fame should be built for their names and contributions to be indelibly inscribed for future generations to learn from.

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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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