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Kalahari Holocaust (V)



We had previously noted that, General Lothar Von Trotha’s heavy handed offer to grant ‘mercy’ has convinced the Nama to fight on.

An English translation his 22nd of April 1905 Proclamation to the ‘Hottentots’ [Nama]:

"The mighty and powerful German Emperor will grant mercy to the Hottentot [Nama] people and will spare the lives of those who voluntarily surrender. Only those who at the beginning of the uprising murdered whites or who ordered others to do so will forfeit their lives in accordance with the law. I announce this to you and further say that those few who do not submit will suffer the same fate as the Hereros, who in their blindness believed that they could carry on successful war with the mighty German Emperor and the great German people.

I ask you where are all the Hereros today, where are their chiefs? Samuel Maharero, who once called thousands of head of cattle his own, is now harried like a wild beast and driven over the border into English territory. He has become as poor as the poorest field Herero and possesses nothing. It is the same with the other chiefs, the majority of whom have lost their lives, and the Herero people too have been annihilated – part of them dying of hunger and thirst on the desert, part killed by German soldiers, part murdered by the Owambos.

“The Hottentots will suffer the same fate if they do not surrender and give up their weapons. You should come with a white piece of cloth on a stick together with your whole village and nothing will happen to you. You will get work and receive food until the war ends at which time the Great German Kaiser will regulate anew the conditions in this territory. He who believes that mercy will not be extended to him should leave the land for as long as he lives on German soil he will be shot – this policy will go on until all such Hottentots have been killed.”

In May 1905, a series of renewed clashes between the Germans and Jakob Marengo’s commando spilled over into Bechuanaland. This pattern continued for the duration of the war with the both the Nama forces, more especially the commandos of Kooper and Morris as well as Marengo, and their German counterparts often in either flight or pursuit into Bechuanaland and the northern Cape. The Germans as well as Nama are also known to have quietly established bases inside supposedly British ruled territory.

In addition, by the end of 1905 over 2000 Nama, mostly women and children had sought refuge under Mmamosadinyana’s protection. But besides being a place of retreat and refuge the western Kgalagadi region, from Ghanzi in the north to Upington in the south, was also crucial to the Nama resistance as a source of munitions and other supplies.  In the process the war came to involve people, black and white, on both sides of the border, on both sides of the conflict.

The extent to which local Batswana were involved in smuggling arms and other contraband across the Kgalagadi deserves further study. For their part the Germans communicated to the British their own suspicions that Sekgoma Letsholathebe’s Batawana and Sebele’s Bakwena were giving aid and comfort to the Kaiser’s enemies. Scattered references also exist of the involvement of various Bechuanaland and northern Cape based whites on the side of the Nama.

One such individual was Edward Presgrave, whose death by a German bullet became a cause celebre in his home country of Australia. At the age of 18 Presgrave had arrived in Southern Africa to fight in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Thereafter, he seems to have made his living as a smuggler. By the beginning of 1905 he was reported to have been supplying Marengo’s forces with arms, ammunition, food and livestock.

He is further known to have actually ridden with Marengo’s commando in June-July of 1905, resulting in his active participation in at least three armed engagements against the Germans. The first encounter was at Leukop, which ended with many of the Nama retreating across the border, only to cross back a few days later. Reinforced by a second Nama commando under Kaptien Jan Hendricks, Marengo then attacked the Germans in clashes at Narus and around Khauxanas, inflicting severe casualties. Among the fallen was Lieutenant Thilo von Trotha, who was a nephew of Lothar.

Legend has it that at this point Presgrave joined Marengo, Witbooi and Kooper at the top of the German General’s most wanted list. Having returned to Bechuanaland, in September 1905, Presgrave was lured back into German South West Africa by two Boers on the pretext of buying some cattle. Once across the border the Boers attempted to capture him with the intent of turning him over to the Germans. But, in the ensuing struggle Presgrave was shot and wounded. The next morning a German patrol arrived to finish him off.

There is little doubt that the two Boers had already been working for the Germans. Berlin’s Consulate in Cape Town maintained an extensive network of agents on the British side of the border, more especially among Boers who were bitter at their community’s recent defeat by the British.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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