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The Afro issue, an insult to Africans

Gasebalwe Seretse
ROYAL THOUGHTS

Rainbow High School, a well-known English-medium school in Gaborone recently became infamous for abolishing Afro hair among its black students.

Interestingly, this meant that black students were subtly encouraged to shun their natural hair and straighten it a bit or even cut it or style it in a way that would please people from other races, while they in turn wallow in sorrow. While we may not want to make this a race issue, why is it that people from other races were allowed to wear their hair naturally without any restrictions? Why is it that a memo was only sent out to black students and whites and Asians were left out?

Needless to say, this issue attracted much debate in the country whose population is mostly black and therefore have Afros naturally. One young black Motswana posted on social media that to him Afro is not a hairstyle but the natural way that his hair grows; and he made it clear that he really felt insulted and degraded although he is not a student at Rainbow. He said that it is the texture of his black hair that makes it grow in a round shape if it is allowed to grow undisturbed hence banning the Afro would be like banning nature.

The big question is, how do people come to our country, become our guests and later dictate how we should live our lives? Isn’t this asking for too much? We as Africans, for so many years, have been taught to do things in a certain way so as to be accepted by people of other races! This is very sad indeed. We have been taught to shun our way of life to an extent that if we don’t do something the Western way we are deemed inferior. We have cast away African clothes because we were told that we looked like savages in them and we believed it.

We write and speak English better than Setswana and other indigenous languages because we have been taught that our languages are primitive. Nowadays, it is commonplace to find a Motswana kid who can’t express himself or herself in the vernacular and you find that the parents encourage that. We have even ditched the healthier African diet of mabele, phane, morogo, indigenous squash and dinawa and instead we prefer the Western foods that like ice cream, fizzy drinks loaded with sugar and we have realised too late that our food is healthier. It has been discovered that the rise of diabetes amongst Africans can be partly attributed to change of diet over the years.

Even our text books fail to tell the African story the way it is and instead we are told what other people want us to hear. We are taught history from the perspective of people from other races. Our women who wear Brazilian weaves and other artificial hair pieces and wigs are regarded more beautiful than the ones who wear their hair natural, which is sad indeed. It is very clear that when people from other races see that we as Africans don’t love our own instead we prefer their things, they now find it their duty to teach us how to live our lives.   

Even Africans in the Diaspora have fought for centuries for their voice to be heard and their faces to  be seen. That is why even in a country like America, which is regarded in some quarters as a beacon of democracy, we still have people who want to be taught that ‘black lives matter’. Donald Molosi, a well-known artist in Botswana is one of the few people who has been brave enough to approach the school in question to ask them to explain their unfortunate stance in the Afro matter. Molosi asserts that after engaging the principal of the school, an agreement was reached that Afros would be allowed in the school.

Truth of the matter is, this debate should never have been there in the first place because the management of that school knows that they are in an African country and they should align their school policies to embrace the African-ness of their black students who I suspect are in the majority. While the school is said to have ditched its policy on Afros, this begs the question, why did they even think about banning Afro in the first instance? It’s high time Botswana leaders unite and take a stand against such an unbecoming and racist attitude.

Molosi is not only a versatile artist but he is also a founder of  the Upright African Movement which promotes African culture, history and arts. He believes we have to start in the classroom setting to celebrate our African-ness. Our children have to be taught that Africa and her children are great. We have to celebrate our heroes and heroins before we celebrate people from other culture and races. We have to tell our stories in a way that  make us proud of where we come from.

We should teach our children that it is okay to speak in their mother tongues even if they are eloquent in English and other foreign languages. We should encourage our young one to embrace their blackness while getting to know and appreciate other cultures. We must tell our women that black and natural is still beautiful while we allow them to beautify themselves in the way they want. Then no one would be able to tell us that we should not look the way God created us.

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    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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