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The Dalai Lama, again…


Nation states seek their own place under the shine internationally. When engaging with others, the primary guiding principle is often some form of rational self-interest. Both realists and liberals would acknowledge that states pursue their own interests- and perhaps only differ on how and the degree of brutality with which each may pursue what it considers vital national interests. Out of this, comes the Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader of the Tibetan people who have been at loggerheads with China for a long time.

An otherwise good man seeking the right to self-determination for his people. But that China is quite stubborn an unwilling to yield over territories it considers vital to its non-negotiable ‘One China’ policy is clear. Now there is a Mexican standoff, Former President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama has an invitation to an event hosted by the Dalai Lama, and the Botswana Government is unyielding in not supporting the trip. A good number of people have been wondering if this is a case of President Masisi making life difficult for his predecessor. And objective answer to this conundrum maybe found.

China incorporated Tibet sometime back in 1951 after an uprising that sought to establish the area as an independent territory. An agreement was entered into by China and the Tibetan leaders to be incorporated- Tibetans largely say such was under duress. This has led to decades of hostility between China and Tibet-a territory China considers her own, and whose leaders (the Dalai Lama is Tibet’s spiritual leader) considers not a part of China.

But note this- this territory had actually been a part of China until a British invasion of the territory in 1904, which paved way to the region gaining a great deal of autonomy in 1913 or thereabout. China has therefore declared that it would not entertain any machinations for an independent Tibet as this would also open up China to similar claims from Taiwan and other territories even. This policy has been subject of major disagreements with the United States, who believe Tibet and other territories should have the right to self-determination.

Given the history of this conflict and its intricate nature, it suffices to say Botswana is of no strategic positioning to solve it. Getting involved- even by proxy- as may be interpreted by a guest facilitated by the Republic of Botswana at such a gathering as the Dalai Lama is having. Our facilitation as a country would serve no purpose more so that conflict with China is not anywhere near the priorities of the current administration.

It matters not whether this administration will achieve good results with China. The bottom-line is that this administration has decided to mend relations with China and make China an important trading ally. Anything that goes against this interest- which forms a part of our national interests- cannot be tolerated. Tolerating any such would be a sign of weakness by the Presidency- the first duty of any Statesman internationally is to seek that which is in the interest of his or her nation. It would be severe dereliction of duty for the Government of Botswana to accept such machinations.

If this were a domestic matter of the Former President seeking to attend a meeting or other such gathering, I would find it fitting that he be facilitated without fuss. If it were a case of him travelling for a gathering that has no potential to upset our relations with a country with which we seek to mend relations and gain much more from trade wise it would certainly be ok that he be allowed to do as he pleases.

But such is not the case and this should not be misconstrued as an affront on his entitlements and privileges. Entitlements may be tempered with where the national interest is judged, in the good judgement of an incumbent President, to be in jeopardy as a result of conferring any such. The collective is more important than any individual, even though individuals have liberties- such liberties must not harm those of the commonwealth. In this particular case, the liberties that duly should be enjoyed by the Former President are in conflict with those of the commonwealth, and as such in this particular case ought to be curtailed. This is not hate and it is not petty- it is a determination in the interest of the Republic.

And it is not like anyone thinks the Former President is not a patriot. There is no greater patriotic duty than serving in the military. The oath itself is one of patriotism and it basically condemns one to death in defense of thy fatherland if need be. A man who has served in the military then cannot quite be said to not be a patriot. But their judgment may be clouded by other considerations- we do know that President Khama previously thought the Chinese had fleeced us of lots of money through shoddy works and incomplete projects. And this was true.

His policy at that point in time may have been to perhaps not look East anymore. And he was well within his rights to do so if that was his judgement as President. The big difference now is that there is a new President and he has made it clear he intends on cooperating with China. The former, who had thought negative of the relationship with Chinese contractors especially, ought to then maintain a safe distance and let the new policy manifest. It need not reflect what he would do or prefer.

And by the way, it is not a case of thinking he will speak ill of the country or the new administration while at the gathering. It is more a case of what our partner in China will perceive such facilitation as. A former President travelling with the facilitation of the state is not ordinary. And as such may be perceived to be doing the bidding of the sending state. This is particularly the case when such a visit touches on interest considered vital by the other party.

But what of the rights of Tibetans? These are important but when acting in the international arena, states are largely guided by what is in their interest. They often pursue a realist approach that premises their selfish interests. Morality in such matters, but no more than when it is convenient. In actual fact, even liberals who often speak of cooperation and win-win situations do know that in reality states act in their self-interest. You are lucky when your interests coincide on matters- and on the matter of Tibet there is absolutely no way that our interests and those of China converge.

And in any case, we have no real chance at bringing about a solution to this decades long conflict. More resourced nations have tried to put pressure on China without success. We have neither the soft nor hard power to bring China to a settlement they vitally oppose. So then, why bother? Or why be seen by China to be meddling? I mean, if we wanted to meddle then we might as well do it in a grand and not low key manner that attracts more sanctions than it brings the conflict to anywhere closer to a solution.

The President of the Republic has made the right call to not sanction facilitation for this particular trip. And this does not mean the next trip if for purposes that would further relations between Botswana and her international partners should not be sanctioned. It should be. We must bear in mind that when parliament conferred entitlements on former Presidents had it in mind that former Presidents are senior Statesmen and women who would actually act in furtherance of the interests of the nation at any particular given point in time- and such is largely as determined by a President in office. President Masisi had to make a call, and he made the right call. It should be seen from that context.

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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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