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Scotty Smith, the Nama and the British


We last left off with the German killing of the Australian Edward Presgrave, who was suspected of smuggling arms to the Nama resistance leaders Jacob Morengo and Simon Kooper via Bechuanaland.

Another more notorious figure running guns from Bechuanaland was the infamous highwayman, illicit diamond buyer, flimflam artist, cattle rustler and horse thief and sometime Chobe elephant hunter, George St. Legar Gordon Lennox, aka Scotty Smith, whose mercenary support for the Nama complimented his other role as a British spy.

The life of the outlaw Scotty Smith has been the subject of romantic mythmaking in accounts that portray him as a white South African version Ned Kelly, Billy the Kid or Dick Turpin. This image is best  reflected in Frederick Charles Metrowich’s classic 1962 biography ‘Scotty Smith – South Africa’s Robin Hood’, which in 1970 was adapted as a modestly popular  ‘Western’ style motion picture. Unravelling the real character from legend and hearsay remains a challenge.

Given his long association with British military intelligence, Scotty’s career is arguably more comparable to the likes of Captains Drake or Morgan, an agile freebooter whose adventurous life dovetailed with his long service to the Empire. The history of imperialism is indeed full of such shadowy figures. In this context there is value trying to separate the man from the myths.

Having supposedly deserted from the British military after fighting the Xhosa c. 1878, Scotty nonetheless acted as a British spy, as well as mercenary, on the side of the Batlhaping during the Batswana conflict with the Stellaland and Goshenite filibusters (1881-83). In this context he is said to have assisted the outgunned Kgosi Mankurwane by organizing night raids on Boer farmsteads.

But, when a large faction of the Batlhaping rose up against the British in 1897 he rendered “very valuable work” as an intelligence agent and scout for the expeditionary force that crushed the rebellion. Scotty continued to serve the British as a secret agent during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). At the end of the latter conflict he reportedly received a full royal pardon for past legal transgression against the Crown.

Scotty’s relationship with the Nama is known to have predated their uprising against the German occupation. In this respect, even before the conflict he had raised German suspicions leading to their rejection of his claims to a farm among the Nama in southern Namibia. It is also alleged that, again before the war, the Germans had on at least one occasion confiscated goods laden wagons belonging to Smith as contraband.

What is certain is that by 1904, Scotty had established his base near the British German colonial border at Leitland’s Pan in the vicinity of Reitfontien, not far from what is now the southern boundary of the Trans-Kgalagadi Frontier Park. From Leitland’s Pan, Scotty not only ran guns to Witbooi, Marengo and Kooper.  He also organised his own private commando, consisting at any given time of 30-40 Nama, originally recruited by Witbooi, as well as a few white partners, who were further assisted by Khoe (Basarwa) trackers. At the same time, besides maintaining his military intelligence connection, he was also appointed as Justice of the Peace for the region, reflecting a not uncommon imperial frontier pattern of appointing outlaws to uphold the law.

From 1904-07 Scotty’s commando profited by provisioning the Nama, while waylaying German supply wagons and rustling cattle. It is said that the German soldiers in civilian dress often ended up crossing into British territory to buy back their stolen livestock. According to Metrowich:

“The one big weakness of the Hottentots [Nama] was their lack of arms, ammunition and provisions. Scotty was their chief source of supply, and with his gang he smuggled a constant stream of commodities to the rebels. In addition he would raid the German horses and cattle during the night and rush them over the frontier, across the Molopo River, and into the Colony. His stock lifting was so well organised and on such a vast scale that he soon found it necessary to establish a chain to cattle posts in various parts of the Kalahari. At these camps the cattle were fed and rested so that they would fetch good prices when they were sold on the open markets in Kimberly, Vryburg and Upington.”

On at least one occasion the Germans struck back by launching a cross border raid against some of the cattle posts operated by Scotty’s syndicate. The Kaiser also put a bounty of 20,000 marks on his head, which was higher than the rewards initially offered for the capture of the leading Nama Kaptiens. Here it should be remembered that Britain was in no way at war with Germany at the time, and therefore could not be seen to have condoned forays of Scotty’s commando. These exploits on several occasions included the ambushing German forces under the cover of darkness.

How did Scotty get away with what at the time would have been officially seen as blatant cross border crimes? Clearly his status and value as an intelligence agent was an important part of the puzzle. In this respect it is of further interest that the known names of his handlers at the time were associated with the Bechuanaland Protectorate, rather than Cape Colony establishment.

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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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