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The importance of family heirlooms


Most families have at least one prized possession that has been in the family for generations and such things are called heirlooms.

However it looks like Batswana or should we say Africans are poor at keeping such items safe and as a result might realise something’s value when it is no longer there. Items that could be regarded as heirlooms might include, a grandmother’s wedding gown, a wedding band, an old china tea-set, ancient jewellery, a painting, old furniture, out of print books and general mementos from the good old days.

My family has an old Setswana Bible printed in 1890 and that belonged to my grandfather who got it from a Kgosi who was also a cousin as a present. The Bible has been in the family for decades and what  sets it apart from many Setswana Bibles available today is that it is one of the first ever Setswana Bible and the language sounds like Greek to the reader. It was bound in heavy leather cover which was embossed in gold.

The Bible is not even in the old Setswana orthography that our grandparents used! Some of the other known Bibles from that era are found at Phuthadikobo Museum in Mochudi and there were at one point under the custody of fellow-scribe, Sandy Grant.  Just before my late grandmother passed, I asked her if I could have the Bible and she agreed. One day as a young unemployed person, I took the Bible to the director of the National Museum for valuing because I foolishly wanted to sell it because I was broke.

I couldn’t believe it when I was offered a huge sum of money for the Bible, which sounded like a fortune to me. The museum boss knew that the Bible was invaluable because of its previous owner and because it was printed in the oldest forms of Setswana something that I wasn’t aware of. It was agreed that I would get the cheque for the Bible at a later date and I left with it. Fortunately some family members got wind of the ill-advised potential transaction and stopped it. Just imagine what the family could have lost if someone hadn’t interfered. The Bible is still in the family and although it’s value has risen, it is not for sale. We as a family have decided to use the Bible at special events such as wedding ceremonies and funerals.

Some people have lost some important family heirlooms because of carelessness and not being able to realise their real worth. If you look around the house, there might be something that you have inherited from your ancestors, you might need to have it valued by a professional to determine its real worth. After determining its worth, you might want to auction it off if you need extra cash. If its something that the family does not want to lose, you can keep it for its sentimental value and take it out only during special occasions.  I have read delightful stories of young brides who get married in their great grandmothers’ wedding gowns.

Most certainly those classic wedding dresses makes the bride stand out and they are not easy to copy. Others exchange wows with wedding rings that were inherited from an ancestor. So next time before you cast away that old classic family picture, piece of jewellery, out of print book, old music record, a collection of old postal stamps or an item of clothing, be sure to determine its worth. There are people today who are willing to spend thousands of Pulas to buy such as they are not available on mainstream market. I have been reliably informed that Mary Benson’s Tshekedi Khama which is out of print book  is available online for more than P 25 000, so someone who owns that book can make a lot of money by selling his copy.

I was recently given a gift of a bust of a Kgosi by a popular sculptor in Botswana worth close to P 30 000 and I have made a decision for it to be part of my small art collection. I hope that one day someone who inherits the statue when I am gone will see its real worth as it is invaluable. It would be heartbreaking if the sculpture is sold at a song by an irresponsible descendant.

If you read home decor magazines, you will find people enquiring about the value of some items that they have inherited from their ancestors and in most cases, they get to realise that these pieces are worth more than previously thought. So Batswana, look around and secure something that might be worth a lot more than it is worth today. It might be the family heirloom that will take your children or grandchildren out of financial mess when you are no longer there to provide for them.

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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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