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Remembering Sir Ketumile Masire: one year on!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

About one year ago, on 22nd June 2017, former president Sir Ketumile Masire passed on. The nation mourned. The nation lamented and decried the fall of a democrat. While many Batswana’s heats were heavy, many consoled themselves with the knowledge that a democrat had rested.

Today, one year on, the life of this great soul that once walked our land is worth remembering. In their book, ‘The Hidden Injuries of Class’, Richard Sennett and Jonathon Cobb wrote: “character is expressed by loyalty, and mutual commitment, or through the pursuit of long term goals, or by the practice of delayed gratification for the sake of the future end.”

This, in my view, defines the person that Sir Ketumile Masire was. It would be remiss to ascribe the word ‘personality’ to the democrat that Masire was. His was character, not personality. His was charm, appeal, atmosphere, attractiveness, charisma, and oddity. His oddity, though, was neither quirk nor foible; it was neither idiosyncrasy nor eccentricity; it was neither twist nor kink. It was not tic either. It was a peculiarity rooted in incomparable humility.   

Rra Gaone, as he was affectionately called, led a life defined by loyalty. I remember with fondness when, in a programme aired on Botswana Television(Btv), one of his siblings, almost his age, referred to him as his father, recounting how he became a ‘father’ to them following the death of their parents at an early age. He said his care for them was like warmth itself.  His eyes glittered with happiness when he stated that when Mma Gaone joined the family after marrying Rra Gaone she became their ‘mother’. As a result, they have, though orphans, never felt they were orphans.

I remember that in the same Btv programme, Mma Gaone narrated Rra Gaone’s loyalty to her as a wife, stating that he treated her as an equal, respected her and consulted her in all matters that touched on their livelihood. He referred to him as ‘Rre’ almost as if he was more than a husband to her. A parent of some sought. Yet, she did not appear as though she had been subjugated. She did not regard herself as inferior to him. It was almost as though she regarded herself as an unequal equal; a subordinate superior; a wife cum daughter; but a wife cum mother too.

To Rra Gaone, respect for democracy did not mean that other life attributes should be compromised. His brother stated how Rra Gaone used to discipline them with love when they engaged in deviant behavior. Andrew Sesinyi, Rra Gaone’s former Chief of Protocol, has said ‘Rre Masire one ale bogale, mme one a loma a fodisa’, meaning that he was a disciplinarian, but also knew how to soothe people’s feelings after disciplining them.

If soothing means calming, pacifying, quieting, mollifying, appeasing and lulling then I agree with Sesinyi. This, as all Batswana know, he did through, inter alia, the dinyawe, i.e. jokes that have become his trade mark and have become a heritage for our people. One tribesman, a lot younger than Rra Gaone, narrated how Rra Gaone used to give them lifts to the cattle post in his van. We knew, the tribesman said, that every Friday he would be driving to the cattle post so we waited for him. He even remembered the vehicle’s number plates.

Rra Gaone was not only loyal to his family. He was loyal to his country which he served as a teacher, journalist, farmer, Vice President, President and father. His was not just service though. It was voluntary servitude. His life was the epitome of country commitment and honour for the youth, men and women of this beloved Botswana, our land. For, there are very few mortals who serve mankind as though they are serving God Almighty. There are very few mortals who serve their people for more than forty eight years and retire almost blemishless.

Though still very popular when his time to retire came he did willingly. When many of his peers in Africa clung to power to the detriment of their people he listened to his conscience and left. Knowing that he owed Batswana a farewell he travelled the length and breadth of this country bidding them farewell.

Rra Gaone’s calling was not just to serve Batswana. His was to also serve the world. As we lamented in that June of 2017, Basotho too lamented. So too did the Zaireans for they knew peace because of him. Not even when his life was in peril did he relent. What selfless human being was this? Sesinyi said he was humbled when, despite his plane being shot at in August 1988 while flying over Angola on his way from Gaborone to a meeting in the Angolan capital, Luanda, he nonetheless wanted to continue assisting in peace keeping missions in war torn countries.

Rra Gaone’s life was for both the present and the future, but probably more for the latter. He had this insatiable pursuit for long term goals. The vision he bequeathed upon us, Vision 2016, is a case in point. Rra Gaone was a true disciple of the practice of delayed gratification for the sake of the future end. This he showed not only through the long term vision, Vision 2016, but also through the potentially politically suicidal political reforms he championed.

As a true democrat, he reduced the voting age from 21 to 18; he introduced the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC); the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC); the Ombudsman and external balloting. Being the democrat he was he tolerated those with differing political ideologies. Leach Thomelang, formerly of the Botswana National Front (BNF), has narrated how Rra Gaone used to engage him in national assignments despite belonging to the Opposition.

BNF Secretary General, Moeti Mohwasa, has stated that during Rra Gaone’s tenure as President the All Party Caucus where the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) met with all Opposition parties to discuss political issues, especially those related to elections, was functional. Rra Gaone was a statesman. Yet, he never forgot his roots. Obviously influenced by his love for farming, he championed the introduction of such Agricultural programmes as Accelerated Rainfed Arable Programme (ARAP), Arable Lands Development Programme (ALDEP), Services to Livestock Owners in Communal Areas (SLOCA) and the Financial Assistance Programme (FAP).

Rra Gaone was proud of his culture as a Motswana. He loved Setswana and spoke it with such eloquence that very few who rise to his heights do. Being a graduate of Tiger Kloof and being a state President did not make him claim to have forgotten some Setswana words.  Though I had always known that he is humble, when I met him in January 2016 I was humbled by his humility. He was unassuming. He made me feel important. He gave me about three hours of his time during which we collegially discussed the state of our nation, Botswana.

He told me that though he does not always agree with what I write, he appreciates my contribution to the growth of our democracy. He never asked me which political party I belong to. He never recruited me to join his party, the BDP. He never asked about my tribe. He lamented how our cow, Botswana, is dying before our eyes; how we are regressing as far as adherence to democracy is concerned; how our leaders no longer listen to the people; and how our commitment to tolerance as a nation is waning.

He bewailed how our leaders do not listen to advice from former leaders and the elderly. In his trade mark laughter he said ‘Monna gatwe we want to rule from the grave’. He disclosed how he was among those who were accused of contributing to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), a political party that splintered from the BDP in 2010.

He mourned that had the BDP leadership listened to the advice of such leaders as Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe the late Gomolemo Motswaledi would not have been suspended from the BMD and the formation of the BMD would probably have been avoided. He bemoaned how we, as a nation, are departing from such principles as ‘therisanyo’ i.e. consultation that our founding President and his predecessor, Sir Seretse Khama, sacrificed so much to set, of course with his help and that of our other founding fathers and mothers.

Towards the end of our meeting, in his characteristic jokes, he said ‘Rra ke seka ka go beela ruri fa ka nna Mosadi wame o ntlogetse. O tshwanetse wa ya lapeng ka nako oe go bona Mosadi’ loosely translated to mean ‘Sir, I should not keep you here longer because my wife is late. You have to go home in time for your wife.

Of course, we continued our meeting for about thirty minutes after, during which time I expressed concern how we, as a nation, do not recognize and honour our leaders during their life time. He expressed similar concern, but did not speak much on the subject matter, perhaps because it affected him. After the meeting, he, through his Private Secretary, Fraser Tlhoiwe, sent his gratitude that I honored his invitation and attended the meeting.

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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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