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Its Time We Walked the Talk and not Vice-Versa

The digital revolution will not foist itself on a society: it has to be courted, adopted, and mainstreamed. It is not so much an end as a means to an end.

If the payoff has to accrue and speedily mature, the digital economy has to be eagerly, keenly, and enthusiastically embraced. Just as one is certain to flunk examinations if they do not swot hard or often enough, a nation cannot expect to reap the rewards of the Information Age if it chooses to be a spectator at worst or a laggard at best. It has to be a spontaneous and active participant.

ICT use and application (a category that includes hardware, software, networks, and media collection, storage, processing, transmission, and presentation of information [voice, data, text, images, etc.]) must of necessity be a way of life. It has to become second nature if you like.

I need not underscore the obvious and foregone conclusion fact that ICT adoption has a direct correlation with sizeable boosts to GDP. A 2018 study listed the worlds 15 most technologically advanced countries as Japan, the US, South Korea, Germany, China, India, England, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Finland, Russia, Israel, France, and Singapore in that order.

It goes without saying that these are some of the worlds most buoyant economies who are what they are owing, fundamentally, to their compulsive deployment of cutting edge technology in practically every walk of life.

In yet another 2018 paper, a team of researchers had this to say about the economic prop and catalyst that is ICT: ICT has become very important in modern economies, and its effects on economic growth derive from two channels: the output of ICT-producing industries, and the output of the ICT-using industries.

The team trained its lens on EU countries over an 18-year period (from 2000 to 2017) and found that an increase in the digitisation of a country by only 10 percent led to a 0.75 percent increase in GDP per capita as well as a 1.02 percent drop in the unemployment rate.

One hopes Botswana, or to be specific, the Masisi administration, is listening.

South Koreas Pali-Pali

If I have to harp back to South Korea time and again, it is because it was, in a manner of speaking, forged in the same penurious crucible as Botswana.

Like Botswana, the country alternatively referred to as the Land of the Han River was a dirt-poor, nonentity economy in the 50s. It has since turned a corner and today it bears all the hallmarks of a Tiger economy, riding on the crest of a prosperity wave thanks in large measure to decades of government interventions and investments in modern technology.

At the last count, South Koreas GDP per capita was some $31,000 whilst sitting atop a foreign exchange reserves pile of over $400 billion, the bountiest after China, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, India, and Honk Kong. The countrys unemployment rate is only 4.8 percent in a mammoth population of just under 52 million people.

South Korea leads the world in Internet penetration rates, with virtually every household capable of going, and affording to go, online anytime anywhere. In the last five to seven years, South Korea has featured in the top three on the International Telecommunications Unions ICT Development Index and presently tops the Bloomberg Index of Most Innovative Economies. More often than not, it has been highlighted as the worlds most efficient economy on Fareed Zakarias remarkably accurate and highly insightful GPS programme on CNN.

South Korea finds itself on pole as a digital economy on the back of three principal factors an advanced education system, a culturally resilient mindset, and a technologically-inclined government.

The watchword in South Korea right across the board is Pali-Pali, meaning quicker and quicker. One Korean executive was quoted as saying thus in this regard: The goal is to strengthen the 21st-Century learners capacity. In particular, we focus on 4Cs: Critical thinking and problem-solving; Collaboration; Character; and Communication. Nowadays, software education is in full swing, so we try to improve computational thinking.

Covid-19 A Wake-Up Call

As much as the advent of Covid-19 is an apocalypse of sorts, it has also ushered in a new epoch whereby things just will never be done with the languor and lethargic tendencies of yesteryears.

We now all have to be on the double: if in the past we simply reacted, now we have to be proactive. If hitherto we simply sat on projects long after they were instituted, now we have to put in place a revolutionary programme of action that should kickstart them, that will see things move at the speed of a gazelle, complete with checks and balances brought to bear round-the-clock.

The era of deadwood is over; where such is detected, all shoddy and slothful types must be weeded out and immediately replaced with proven or promising performers.

Every career, every occupational undertaking, formally begins in the classroom. It is here we must embed an ICT proclivity from the elementary or rudimentary stages of the educational continuum. It is here we must implant an abiding productive and workaholic mindset.

The hogwash that theres no hurry Botswana must be jettisoned altogether and consigned to a landfill: as in South Korea, everything should now be Pali-Pali. Accountability must be of the essence: bureaucrats should not get away scot-free for a bumbling or faltering performance which set the country back for years but instead, authorities should not hesitate to wield the axe.

Our former presidents, Quett Masire and Festus Mogae in particular, are on record as lamenting that as a people, we do not grind as much as others, such as Zimbabweans, for instance, do. We should not make President Masisi voice the same disillusionment. To the contrary, we should chug at such a lightning-quick pace as to prompt him to cheerily laud our capacity for hard work.

A seismic cultural shift is in order. Its either the 4IR way or the highway: there should be no two ways about it. As someone underlined in respect of South Korea, Societal changes were expedited by cultural characteristics and especially Koreans desire to move quickly as a driving force behind their rapid adoption of ICTs.

Note that as a transformative President, H.E. Masisi needs every hand to be on deck. We need him to steer us to uncharted prosperity territory just as he needs us to provide the vital anchorage. If we do not exert ourselves in doing our part in executing the tasks of nationhood, we will be sabotaging him and booby-trapping our own selves.

Australia and Egypt Worthy of Emulating

It is heartening to learn that BUIST has embarked on a project to produce soap and sanitisers in a bid to help ward off the onset of Covid-19. The initiative is projected to entail savings of up to P520 million of the import bill.

The University of Botswana has also designed and developed a face shield for the plucky people at the forefront of the battle the medics who tend to Covid-19 patients.

Imagine if these reputed institutions of higher learning made a habit of coming up with such innovations practically in real time every time a challenge of the sort arose or simply loomed large!

Whereas these initiatives are commendable, theres scope to do more in view of precious other imperatives which as a nation we are not that galvanised to act upon. Examples of the areas in which we have failed dismally short in this connection are legion but I will restrict myself to only one.

In a country with some of the most abundant sunlight on earth, were still well behind in the harnessing of solar energy to generate electric power.

Last year, Australia added 2.2 GW to rooftop solar energy. In Egypt, the Benban swath of photovoltaic solar panels project boosts the off-grid national output by 1.5 GW. The project has brought down the price of solar energy, drawn in dozens of companies, and given Egypts south an economic boost.

Even little Rwanda, with its relatively mild sunlight compared to Botswana, in 2018 embarked on a project to develop a 30 MW solar power plant. In Germany, there has been a systematic phasing-out of nuclear and coal power plants in favour of the solar option, which is expected to create 50,000 jobs by the year 2030.

Groundbreaking Project in LA

This year, effective from April 1, BPC hiked tariffs by 22 percent as Government substantially curtailed its vast yearly subsidy to the loss-prone corporation, without which it would have long ceased to be a viable going-concern.

The bottom line implications for business entities, particularly those who form the core of the hospitality and other industries, are profound, if not dire. An operation I know of has seen its monthly power outlay rocket from P200,000 to approximately P244,000 a month (annual increase P528 000) and this is just one expenditure item amongst a clutch of overheads routinely incurred in the business . In the perennially depressed economic climate of our day, to just breakeven would be some herculean feat heavily taxing of the mental faculties of the operations executive team.

True, coal-powered energy, the kind that presently sustains Botswana, does not come cheap. It is by far dearer compared to hydro-electric power though it is less-susceptible to the vagaries of weather. But were in an age where countries are moving away from ecologically harmful energy-generation processes to a stop-gap blending of energy sources and finally to absolutely clean capacity.

A case in point is the situation now obtaining in Los Angeles, California, where a utility company known as 8-Minute Solar Energy last year laid on a solar-battery power-generation project with an energy mix of 200 MW of solar capacity and at least 100 MW of battery capacity, thus offering a preview of what the medium term future of energy will look like. The project was touted as the lowest solar photovoltaic price in the US, and the largest and lowest-cost combined solar and high-capacity battery energy storage in the US.

Need to Harness Those Plentiful Resources

What is happening in California Botswana too can replicate as we have the resources to rise to the occasion too. In 2014, the Department of Geological Survey informed us that there was 30 to 40 trillion cubic feet (TF3) of coal-bed methane gas at a depth of about 200 meters in our crust.

In such a geological setting, the rocks are characterised by low permeability, which renders the extraction process more complex and therefore pricey, with one estimate putting the drilling costs at a whopping $2 million per shaft.

But the steep tab can easily be recouped given a readily available export market of 11 members of the Southern African Power Pool. Time-adjusted pricing of the combined solar-gas powered electricity in the course of the day would make consumers use it as much avidly as prudently.

And at those times of the day when there is a substantial diminution in solar energy, such as in the early mornings and at the onset of dusk, the big-storage batteries would be counted upon to bring on-stream the solar power they hoarded during the day.

As a spokesperson of 8-Minute Solar Energy put it, the solar batteries would absorb excess solar generated during the day, and discharge it through the late afternoon and evening to bolster the drop-off in solar generation, combined with the steep rise in customer demand for electricity as people come home from work.

As the sun goes down, for the other 1,000 megawatts of solar we have without batteries, the gas-fired generation and hydro have to compensate for that.

We Must Be a Do-Do Nation

In view of the forgoing, it follows, therefore, that in Botswana, we should not be talking of producing only 200 MW of solar energy, which is a pittance compared to the practically seamless solar energy potential with which were naturally endowed, and virtually resign ourselves to importing 52 percent of the locally distributed power. Our projection horizons should be of the order of about 1000 MW, with 650 MW for our own consumption (to enable us grow our economy, a prospect only tenable with sufficient and reasonably priced power supply) and the remainder for exporting.

It is said the early bird catches the worm, and that one should make hay while the sun shines. If we walked much more than we talked, the rollout of solar power would have been in third or fourth gear as we speak

The future offers very tantalising prospects for producing power much more cheaply and sustainably than fossil fuels. As such, we have to be more driven and ambitious than we presently are in relation to coming aboard the bandwagon.

The plausibility of what is known as Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), which uses a special kind of solar-powered mirrors to melt salt and use the power that emanates forth to generate electricity is yet another exciting prospect for us in that we have substantial salt deposits at Sowa Town and Makgadikgadi.

South Africa and Mozambique have long indicated that they sit on reserves of 400 TF3 of shale gas and 120 TF3 of natural gas respectively. If we persist in foot-dragging, we could find ourselves saddled with excess capacity with no extra takers outside Botswana at the time we get into the full swing of production. Its time we graduated from a jaw-jaw nation to a do-do nation.

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THE KEY TO HAPPINESS

10th February 2023

Speaking at a mental health breakfast seminar last week I emphasised to the HR managerial audience that you cannot yoga your way out of a toxic work culture. What I meant by that was that as HR practitioners we must avoid tending to look at the soft options to address mental health issues, distractions such as yoga and meditation. That’s like looking for your lost bunch of keys, then opening the front door with the spare under the mat.  You’ve solved the immediate problem, but all the other keys are still missing.   Don’t get me wrong; mindfulness practices, yoga exercise and taking time to smell the roses all have their place in mental wellness but it’s a bit like hacking away at the blight-ridden leaves of the tree instead of getting to the root cause of the problem.

Another point I stressed was that mental health at work shouldn’t be looked at from the individual lens – yet that’s what we do. We have counselling of employees, wellness webinars or talks but if you really want to sort out the mental health crisis that we face in our organisations you HAVE to view this more systemically and that means looking at the system and that starts with the leaders and managers.

Now. shining a light on management may not be welcomed by many. But leaders control the flow of work and set the goals and expectations that others need to live up to. Unrealistic expectations, excessive workloads and tight deadlines increase stress and force people to work longer hours … some of the things which contribute to poor mental health. Actually, we know from research exactly what contributes to a poor working environment – discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads, low job control and job insecurity – all of which pose a risk to mental health. The list goes on and is pretty exhaustive but here are the major ones: under-use of skills or being under-skilled for work; excessive workloads or work pace, understaffing; long, unsocial or inflexible hours; lack of control over job design or workload; organizational culture that enables negative behaviours; limited support from colleagues or authoritarian supervision; discrimination and exclusion; unclear job role; under- or over-promotion; job insecurity.

And to my point no amount of yoga is going to change that.

We can use the word ‘toxic’ to describe dysfunctional work environments and if our workplaces are toxic we have to look at the people who set the tone. Harder et al. (2014) define a toxic work environment as an environment that negatively impacts the viability of an organization. They specify: “It is reasonable to conclude that an organization can be considered toxic if it is ineffective as well as destructive to its employees”.

Micromanagement and/or failure to reward or recognize performance are the most obvious signs of toxic managers. These managers can be controlling, inflexible, rigid,  close-minded, and lacking in self-awareness. And let’s face it managers like those I have just described are plentiful. Generally, however there is often a failure by higher management to address toxic leaders when they are considered to be high performing. This kind of situation can be one of the leading causes of unhappiness in teams. I have coached countless employees who talk about managers with bullying ways which everyone knows about, yet action is never taken. It’s problematic when we overlook unhealthy dynamics and behaviours  because of high productivity or talent as it sends a clear message that the behaviour is acceptable and that others on the team will not be supported by leadership.

And how is the HR Manager viewed when they raise the unacceptable behaviour with the CEO – they are accused of not being a team player, looking for problems or failing to understand business dynamics and the need to get things done.  Toxic management is a systemic problem caused when companies create cultures around high-performance and metrics vs. long-term, sustainable, healthy growth. In such instances the day-to-day dysfunction is often ignored for the sake of speed and output. While short-term gains are rewarded, executives fail to see the long-term impact of protecting a toxic, but high-performing, team or employee. Beyond this, managers promote unhealthy workplace behaviour when they recognize and reward high performers for going above and beyond, even when that means rewarding the road to burnout by praising a lack of professional boundaries (like working during their vacation and after hours).

The challenge for HR Managers is getting managers to be honest with themselves and their teams about the current work environment. Honesty is difficult, I’m afraid, especially with leaders who are overly sensitive, emotional, or cannot set healthy boundaries. But here’s the rub – no growth or change can occur if denial and defensiveness are used to protect egos.  Being honest about these issues helps garner trust among employees, who already know the truth about what day-to-day dynamics are like at work. They will likely be grateful that cultural issues will finally be addressed. Conversely, if they aren’t addressed, retention failure is the cost of protecting egos of those in management.

Toxic workplace culture comes at a huge price: even before the Great Resignation, turnover related to toxic workplaces cost US employers almost $50 billion yearly! I wonder what it’s costing us here.

QUOTE

We can use the word ‘toxic’ to describe dysfunctional work environments and if our workplaces are toxic we have to look at the people who set the tone. Harder et al. (2014) define a toxic work environment as an environment that negatively impacts the viability of an organization. They specify: “It is reasonable to conclude that an organization can be considered toxic if it is ineffective as well as destructive to its employees”.

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Heartache for Kelly Fisher

9th February 2023
T

o date, Princess Diana, General Atiku, had destroyed one marriage, come close to ruining another one in the offing, and now was poised to wreck yet another marriage that was already in the making. This was between Dodi Fayed and the American model Kelly Fisher.

If there was one common denominator about Diana and Dodi besides their having been born with a silver spoon in their mouths, General, it was that both were divorcees. Dodi’s matrimonial saga, however, was less problematic and acrimonious and lasted an infinitesimal 8 months. This was with yet another American model and film actress going by the name Susanne Gregard.

Dodi met Susanne in 1986, when she was only 26 years old. Like most glamourous women, she proved not to be that easy a catch and to readily incline her towards positively and expeditiously responding to his rather gallant advances, Dodi booked her as a model for the Fayed’s London  mega store Harrods, where he had her travel every weekend by Concorde.  They married at a rather private ceremony at Dodi’s Colorado residence in 1987 on New Year’s Day, without the blessings, bizarrely, of his all-powerful  father.  By September the same year, the marriage was, for reasons that were not publicised but likely due to the fact that his father had not sanctioned it,  kaput.

It would take ten more years for Dodi to propose marriage to another woman, who happened to be Kelly Fisher this time around.

 

DODI HITCHES KELLY FISHER

 

Kelly and Dodi, General, met in Paris in July 1996, when Kelly was only 29 years old. In a sort of whirlwind romance, the duo fell in love, becoming a concretised item in December and formally getting  engaged in February 1997.

Of course the relationship was not only about mutual love: the material element was a significant, if not vital, factor.  Kelly was to give up her modelling  job just  so she could spend a lot more time with  the new man in her life and for that she was to be handed out a compensatory reward amounting to   $500,000. The engagement ring for one, which was a diamond and sapphire affair, set back Dodi in the order of    $230,000. Once they had wedded, on August 9 that very year as per plan, they were to live in a $7 million 5-acre  Malibu Beach mansion in California, which Dodi’s father had bought him for that and an entrepreneurial purpose.  They were already even talking about embarking on making a family from the get-go: according to Kelly, Dodi wanted two boys at the very least.

Kelly naturally had the unambiguous blessings of her father-in-law as there was utterly nothing Dodi could do without the green light from the old man. When Mohamed Al Fayed was contemplating buying the Jonikal, the luxurious yacht, he invited Dodi and Kelly to inspect it too and hear their take  on it.

If there was a tell-tale red flag about Dodi ab initio, General, it had to do with a $200,000 cheque he issued to Kelly as part payment of the pledged $500,000 and which was dishonoured by the bank. Throughout their 13-month-long romance, Dodi made good on only $60,000 of the promised sum.  But love, as they say, General, is blind and Kelly did not care a jot about her beau’s financial indiscretions. It was enough that he was potentially a very wealthy man anyway being heir to his father’s humongous fortune.

 

                                              KELLY CONSIGNED TO “BOAT CAGE”                 

 

In that summer of the year 1997, General, Dodi and Kelly were to while away quality time  on the French Rivierra as well as the Jonikal after Paris. Then Dodi’s dad weighed in and put a damper on this prospect in a telephone call to Dodi on July 14. “Dodi said he was going to London and he’d be back and then we were going to San Tropez,” Kelly told the interviewer in a later TV programme.  “That evening he didn’t call me and I finally got him on his portable phone. I said, ‘Dodi where are you?’ and he said he was in London. I said, ‘Ok, I’ll call you right back at your apartment’. He said, ‘No, no, don’t call me back’. So I said, ‘Dodi where are you?’ and he admitted he was in the south of France. His father had asked him to come down and not bring me, I know now.”

Since Dodi could no longer hide from Kelly and she on her part just could not desist from badgering him, he had no option but to dispatch a private Fayed  jet to pick her up so that she join him forthwith in St. Tropez.  This was on July 16.

Arriving in St. Tropez, Kelly, General, did not lodge at the Fayed’s seaside villa as was her expectation but was somewhat stashed in the Fayed’s maritime fleet, first in the Sakara, and later in the Cujo, which was moored only yards from the Fayed villa. It was in the Cujo Kelly  spent the next two nights with Dodi.  “She (Kelly) felt there was something strange going on as Dodi spent large parts of the day at the family’s villa, Castel St. Helene, but asked her to stay on the boat,” writes Martyn Gregory in The Diana Conspiracy Exposed. “Dodi was sleeping with Kelly at night and was courting Diana by day. His deception was assisted by Kelly Fisher’s modelling assignment on 18-20 July in Nice. The Fayed’s were happy to lend her the Cujo and its crew for three days to take her there.”

Dodi’s behaviour clearly was curious, General. “Dodi would say, ‘I’m going to the house and I’ll be back in half an hour’,” Kelly told Gregory. “And he’d come back three or four hours later. I was furious. I’m sitting on the boat, stuck. And he was having lunch with everyone. So he had me in my little boat cage, and I now know he was seducing Diana. So he had me, and then he would go and try and seduce her, and then he’d come back the next day and it would happen again. I was livid by this point, and I just didn’t understand what was going on. When he was with me, he was so wonderful. He said he loved me, and we talked to my mother, and we were talking about moving into the house in California.”

But as is typical of the rather romantically gullible  tenderer sex, General, Kelly rationalised her man’s stratagems. “I just thought they maybe didn’t want a commoner around the Princess … Dodi kept leaving me behind with the excuse that the Princess didn’t like to meet new people.” During one of those nights, General, Dodi even had unprotected sexual relations with Kelly whilst cooing in her ear that, “I love you so  much and I want you to have my baby.”

 

KELLY USHERED ONTO THE JONIKAL AT LONG LAST

 

On July 20, General, Diana returned to England and it was only then that Dodi allowed Kelly to come aboard the Jonikal.  According to Debbie Gribble, who was the Jonikal’s chief  stewardess, Kelly was kind of grumpy. “I had no idea at the time who she was,  but I felt she acted very spoiled,” she says in Trevor Rees-Jones’ The Bodyguard’s Story. “I remember vividly that she snapped, ‘I want to eat right now. I don’t want a drink, I just want to eat now’. It was quite obvious that she was upset, angry or annoyed about something.”

Kelly’s irascible manner of course was understandable, General,  given the games Dodi had been playing with her since she pitched up in St. Tropez. Granted, what happened to Kelly was very much antithetical to Dodi’s typically well-mannered nature, but the fact of the matter was that she simply was peripheral to the larger agenda, of which Dodi’s father was the one calling the shots.

On July 23, Dodi and Kelly flew to Paris, where they parted as Kelly had some engagements lined up in Los Angeles. Dodi promised to join her there on August 4 to celebrate with her her parents’ marriage anniversary.  Dodi, however, General, did not make good on his promise: though he did candidly own up to the fact that he was at that point in time again with Diana, he also fibbed that he was not alone with her but was partying with her along with Elton John and George Michael. But in a August 6 phone call, he did undertake to Kelly that he would be joining her    in LA in a few days’ time. In the event, anyway, General, Kelly continued to ready herself for her big day, which was slated for August 9 – until she saw “The Kiss”.

 

THE KISS THAT NEVER WAS

 

“The Kiss”, General, first featured in London’s Sunday Mirror on August 10 under that very headline. In truth, General, it was not a definitive, point-blank kiss: it was a fuzzy image of Diana and Dodi embracing on the Jonikal. A friend of Kelly faxed her the newspaper pictures in the middle of the night and Kelly was at once  stunned and convulsed with rage.

But although Kelly was shocked, General, she was not exactly surprised as two or three days prior, British tabloids had already begun rhapsodising on a brewing love affair between Dodi and Diana. That day, Kelly had picked up a phone to demand an immediate explanation from her fiancé. “I started calling him in London because at this time I was expecting his arrival in a day. I called his private line, but there was no answer. So then I called the secretary and asked to speak to him she wouldn’t put me on. So Mohamed got on and in so many horrible words told me to never call back again. I said, ‘He’s my fiancé, what are you talking about?’ He hung up on me and I called back and the secretary said don’t ever call here again, your calls are no longer to be put through. It was so horrible.”

Kelly did at long last manage to reach Dodi but he was quick to protest that, “I can’t talk to you on the phone. I will talk to you in LA.” Perhaps Dodi, General, just at that stage was unable to  muster sufficient  Dutch courage to thrash out the matter with Kelly but a more credible reason he would not talk had to do with his father’s obsessive bugging of every communication device Dodi used and every inch of every property he owned.  The following is what David Icke has to say on the subject in his iconic book The Biggest Secret:

“Ironically, Diana used to have Kensington Palace swept for listening devices and now she was in the clutches of a man for whom bugging was an obsession. The Al Fayed villa in San Tropez was bugged, as were all Fayed properties. Everything Diana said could be heard. Bob Loftus, the former Head of Security at Harrods, said that the bugging there was ‘a very extensive operation’ and was also always under the direction of Al Fayed. Henry Porter, the London Editor of the magazine Vanity Fair, had spent two years investigating Al Fayed and he said they came across his almost obsessive use of eavesdropping devices to tape telephone calls, bug rooms, and film people.”

Through mutual friends, General, Porter warned Diana about Al Fayed’s background and activities ‘because we thought this was quite dangerous for her for obvious reasons’ but Diana apparently felt she could handle it and although she knew Al Fayed could ‘sometimes be a rogue’, he was no threat to her, she thought. “He is rather more than a rogue and rather more often than ‘sometimes,” she apparently told friends. “I know he’s naughty, but that’s all.” The TV programme  Dispatches said they had written evidence that Al Fayed bugged the Ritz Hotel and given his background and the deals that are hatched at the Ritz, it would be uncharacteristic if he did not. Kelly Fisher said that the whole time she was on Fayed property, she just assumed everything was bugged. It was known, she said, and Dodi had told her the bugging was so pervasive.

 

KELLY SUES, ALBEIT VAINLY SO

 

To his credit, General, Dodi was sufficiently concerned about what had transpired in St. Tropez to fly to LA and do his utmost to appease Kelly but Kelly simply was not interested as to her it was obvious enough that Diana was the new woman in his life.

On August 14, Kelly held a press conference in LA, where she announced that she was taking legal action against Dodi for breach of matrimonial contract. Her asking compensation price was £340,000. Of course the suit, General, lapsed automatically with the demise of Dodi in that Paris underpass on August 31, 1997.

Although Kelly did produce evidence of her engagement to Dodi in the form of a pricey and spectacular engagement ring, General, Mohamed Al Fayed was adamant that she never was engaged to his son and that she was no more than a gold digger.

But it is all water under the bridge now, General: Kelly is happily married to a pilot and the couple has a daughter. Her hubby  may not be half as rich as Dodi potentially was but she is fully fulfilled anyway. Happiness, General, comes in all shades and does not necessarily stem from a colossal bank balance or other such trappings of affluence.

Pic Cap

THE SHORT-LIVED TRIANGLE: For about a month or so, Dodi Al Fayed juggled Princess Diana and American model Kelly Fisher, who sported Dodi’s engagement ring.  Of course one of the two had to give and naturally it could not be Diana, who entered the lists in the eleventh hour but was the more precious by virtue of her royal pedigree and surpassing international stature.

NEXT WEEK: FURTHER BONDING BETWEEN DIANA AND DODI

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EXTRAVAGANCE One of The Scourges in Society.

9th February 2023

Extravagance in recent times has moved from being the practice of some rich and wealthy people of society in general and has regrettably, filtered to all levels of the society. Some of those who have the means are reckless and flaunt their wealth, and consequently, those of us who do not, borrow money to squander it in order to meet their families’ wants of luxuries and unnecessary items. Unfortunately this is a characteristic of human nature.

Adding to those feelings of inadequacy we have countless commercials to whet the consumer’s appetite/desire to buy whatever is advertised, and make him believe that if he does not have those products he will be unhappy, ineffective, worthless and out of tune with the fashion and trend of the times. This practice has reached a stage where many a bread winner resorts to taking loans (from cash loans or banks) with high rates of interest, putting himself in unnecessary debt to buy among other things, furniture, means of transport, dress, food and fancy accommodation, – just to win peoples’ admiration.

Islam and most religions discourage their followers towards wanton consumption. They encourage them to live a life of moderation and to dispense with luxury items so they will not be enslaved by them. Many people today blindly and irresponsibly abandon themselves to excesses and the squandering of wealth in order to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.

The Qur’aan makes it clear that allowing free rein to extravagance and exceeding the limits of moderation is an inherent characteristic in man. Allah says, “If Allah were to enlarge the provision for his servants, they would indeed transgress beyond all bounds.” [Holy Qur’aan 42:  27]

 

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Observe the middle course whereby you will attain your objective (that is paradise).” –  Moderation is the opposite of extravagance.

Every individual is meant to earn in a dignified manner and then spend in a very wise and careful manner. One should never try to impress upon others by living beyond one’s means. Extravagance is forbidden in Islam, Allah says, “Do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant!” [Holy Qur’aan 7: 31]

The Qur’aan regards wasteful buying of food, extravagant eating that sometimes leads to throwing away of leftovers as absolutely forbidden. Allah says, “Eat of the fruits in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. And waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Holy Qur’aan 6:  141]

Demonstrating wastefulness in dress, means of transport, furniture and any other thing is also forbidden. Allah says, “O children of Adam! Wear your apparel of adornment at every time and place of worship, and eat and drink but do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant!” [Holy Qur’aan 7:  31]

Yet extravagance and the squandering of wealth continue to grow in society, while there are many helpless and deprived peoples who have no food or shelter. Just look around you here in Botswana.

Have you noticed how people squander their wealth on ‘must have’ things like designer label clothes, fancy brand whiskey, fancy top of the range cars, fancy society parties or even costly weddings, just to make a statement? How can we prevent the squandering of such wealth?

How can one go on spending in a reckless manner possibly even on things that have been made forbidden while witnessing the suffering of fellow humans whereby thousands of people starve to death each year. Islam has not forbidden a person to acquire wealth, make it grow and make use of it. In fact Islam encourages one to do so. It is resorting to forbidden ways to acquiring and of squandering that wealth that Islam has clearly declared forbidden. On the Day of Judgment every individual will be asked about his wealth, where he obtained it and how he spent it.

In fact, those who do not have any conscience about their wasteful habits may one day be subjected to Allah’s punishment that may deprive them of such wealth overnight and impoverish them. Many a family has been brought to the brink of poverty after leading a life of affluence. Similarly, many nations have lived a life  of extravagance and their people indulged in such excesses only to be later inflicted by trials and tribulations to such a point that they wished they would only have a little of what they used to possess!

With the festive season and the new year holidays having passed us, for many of us meant ‘one’ thing – spend, spend, spend. With the festivities and the celebrations over only then will the reality set in for many of us that we have overspent, deep in debt with nothing to show for it and that the following months are going to be challenging ones.

Therefore, we should not exceed the bounds when Almighty bestows His bounties upon us. Rather we should show gratefulness to Him by using His bestowments and favours in ways that prove our total obedience to Him and by observing moderation in spending. For this will be better for us in this life and the hereafter.

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