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It’s Time We Walked the Talk and not Vice-Versa 

BOTSWANA MUST FOLLOW SUIT: Egypt’s Benban project is the largest solar park in the world and consists of 30 plants with a combined capacity of around 1.5 GW.

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 world’s 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 world’s 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 Korea’s “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 Korea’s 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 country’s 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 Union’s ICT Development Index and presently tops the Bloomberg Index of Most Innovative Economies. More often than not, it has been highlighted as the world’s most efficient economy on Fareed Zakaria’s 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 learner’s 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 “there’s 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. It’s 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, there’s 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, we’re 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 Egypt’s 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 operation’s 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 we’re 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 we’re 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. It’s time we graduated from a jaw-jaw nation to a do-do nation.

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A Begrudged Child

21st June 2022

Princess Diana was at once a child of destiny and a victim of fate

It is no secret, General Atiku, that the British monarch constitutes one of the most moneyed families on this scandalously uneven planet of the perennial haves on the one hand and the goddamn havenots (such as you and me General) on the other hand.

In terms of residences alone, the House of Windsor lays claim to some 19 homes, some official, such as Buckingham Place and Windsor Castle, for instance, and the greater majority privately owned.
Arguably the most eminent of its private residences is Sandringham House at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England.

It is at this sprawling, 8,100-hectare estate the Queen spends two months each winter, at once commemorates her father King George VI’s death and her own accession to the throne, and more often than not celebrates Christmas. King George VI and his father King George V both drew their last breath here.

A 19th century Prince of Wales, Albert Edward (who would later become King Edward VII), acquired Sandringham in 1862 and it has remained royal property ever since. On the death of King George VI in February 1952, the property passed to his successor Queen Elizabeth II, the incumbent monarch, who assigned her husband Prince Phillip its management and upkeep. The estate also houses a parish, St. Mary Magdalene Church, which the outwardly religious Queen attends every Sunday.

Albert, General, had several additional properties built on the estate the year after he acquired it, one of which was the ten-bedroomed Park House. The house was built to accommodate the overflow of guests at Sandringham House. In the 1930s, King George V leased Park House to Maurice Roche, an Irishman and a bosom friend to his second son, who at the time was Duke of York but would in future be King George VI.

Roche was the 4th Baron Fermoy, a title in the Peerage of Ireland created by Queen Victoria way back in 1856. He and his wife Ruth had three children born at Park House, the second-born of whom was Frances Ruth Roche (futuristically Frances Shand Kydd), born in January 1936.

In 1956, Frances married John Spencer, a fellow noble, and following an “uneasy spell” at Althorp, the Spencer family estate of 500 years, the couple took up residence at Park House, which would be their home for the next 19 years. On July 1, 1961, Frances, then aged 25, and John, then aged 37, welcomed into the world their thirdborn child and youngest daughter, Diana Frances Spencer.

She would, on a positive note, become Her Royal Highness Princess Diana of Wales and the most famous and popular member of the Royal family. On the flip side of the coin, she would, as you well know General, become the most tragic member of the Royal family.

GIRL CHILD WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN A BOY

If there was one thought that constantly nagged at Diana as a youngster, General, it was the “guilt” of having been born anyway. Her parents first had two daughters in succession, namely Elizabeth Sarah, born in 1955, and Cynthia Jane, born in 1957. Johnnie was displeasured, if not downright incensed, that his wife seemed incapable of producing a male child – a heir – who he desperately needed as an aristocrat.

He even took the trouble of having his wife see a series of doctors in a bid to establish whatever deficiency she possessed in her genetic make-up and whether it was possible to correct it. At the time, General, it was not known that it is the man who determines a child’s sex and not the woman.

John’s prayers, if we can call them that General, were as much answered as they were unanswered. The longed-for male heir was born on January 12, 1960. Named John after his father, he was, as per the official version of things, practically stillborn, being so piteously deformed and gravely ill that he was dead in a matter of only ten hours, a development of which Earl Spencer would in future remark thus, albeit with tongue-in-cheek: “It was a dreadful time for my parents and probably the root of their divorce because I don’t think they ever got over it.”

Again as per the official version, General, John was gutted and hurriedly got into stride, this time around utterly positive that having had two daughters in succession, it would be two sons in succession. But nature, General, is seldom that predictable or orderly.

The next child was in fact a daughter, the now iconic Diana, for the third time around. Although John is recorded as having marvelled at what a “perfect physical specimen” her newly-born daughter was, he was forlorn beneath the façade, as a result of which Diana, who as a child did sense a lingering frustration on the part of her father on her account, would openly intuit that she was an unwelcome child, a “nuisance to have around”, thanks to her “failure” to be born a boy. From a very age thus, General, Diana had concluded that she was not well-fated and presciently so!

Although the heir, Charles Spencer (the future Earl Spencer) finally arrived on May 20, 1964, Diana perceived very little if any change in the way she was contemplated by her parents. In fact, both she and Charles could not desist from wondering whether had John lived, they would have been born at all. Seemingly, they came to be simply because their father was desperate for a heir and not necessarily that he wanted two more children.  With the birth of Charles, General, John called it a day as far as the process of procreation was concerned.

GODDESS OF THE HUNT

Why was Diana so named, General? Throughout her life, it was taken as an article of faith that her name derived from Lady Diana Spencer, a member of the Spencer clan who lived between 1710 and 1735, dying at a pitifully tender age of only 25. Certainly, the two namesakes turned out to have precious much in common as we shall unpack at a later stage, as if the latter-day Diana’s life was deliberately manoeuvred to more or less sync with the ancestral Diana.

It emerged, however, General, that the connection to an ancestor was actually secondary, or maybe incidental. The primary inspiration of the name was at long last disclosed by Earl Spencer on September 7, 1997, the day of Princess Diana’s burial. Delivering the elegantly crafted eulogy, Earl Spencer had this to say in relation to her naming: “It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this – a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.”

It is significant, if not curious, General, that of John’s three daughters, only Diana was given the name of a goddess. Clearly, there must have been a special reason for this as aristocrats do not confer names casually: every name carries a metaphorical, symbolic, or intentional message. Typically, it honours an iconic personage or spirit or somebody lesser but who evokes memories anyway.

Elizabeth Sarah, for instance, was in all probability named after the Queen’s mother, whose decades-long inner circle included Diana’s paternal and maternal grandmothers, and an ancestor going by the name Sarah Jennings (1760-1744). Charles Spencer was named after the family’s greatest forbearer, King Charles 1 of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1625-1649. The ill-fated John was of course named after his father, who in turn was likely named after the 5th Earl Spencer, John Poyntz Spencer (1835-1910).

On occasion in occultic families, as the Spencer family latterly have been, a name, General, connotes a bad futuristic omen associated with its bearer and that was precisely the case with Diana.

THE FIRST DIANA

In its ancient rendering, the name Diana meant “The Heavenly One”, or goddess being a feminine style. The first Diana, General, was Inanna, an Anunnaki goddess whose Akkadian name was Ishtar – Esther in English. As you well know General, the Anunnaki are the Old Testament gods, Aliens from the planet Nibiru, the Solar System’s little-known planet which is seen only once in 3600 years, and who came to Earth 432,000 years ago as we comprehensively set down in the Earth Chronicles series.

The name Inanna is Sumerian, the Sumerians being the best-known civilisation of old who thrived around modern-day Iraq (called Sumer in ancient times) about 6000 years ago and who were indirectly governed by the Anunnaki. It was abbreviated from Nin-An-Ak, meaning “Lady of Heaven and Earth” or “Lady of the God of Heaven and Earth”.

She was so-called, General, not because she had particularly special godly qualities but owing to the fact that she was the earthly mistress of Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, the King of the planet Nibiru, which humans of the day perceived as Heaven.

Anu was the father of Enlil, the principal Jehovah of the Bible. Enlil in turn had a second-born son called Nannar-Sin, the first Anunnaki to be born on Earth and who eventually became the Allah of Islam. It was Sin who fathered Inanna. Thus Inanna was Anu’s great-granddaughter but every time he visited Earth, Anu was sexually entertained by the stunningly beautiful Inanna, an act which in Anunnaki culture was not frowned upon.

Inanna was amongst other appellations known as the Goddess of Hunting (because of her penchant for, and skill in, waging war) and the Goddess of Love (in the sense of licentious love-making and not conventional moral love). Her other names in different parts of the world and across the ages were Irnin; Anunitu (Beloved of Anu); Aphrodite; Ashtoreth; Astarte; and Artemis, to mention only a few.

Although her celestial counterpart was the planet Venus, she was also loosely associated with the constellation Virgo as well as the moon. Once upon a time, when she was a virgin, Virgo was dedicated to her by her grandfather Jehovah-Enlil, who was Earth’s Chief Executive until circa 2024 BC. With regard to the moon, it primarily had to do with her twin brother Utu-Shamash, whose celestial counterpart was the sun: as such, Inanna’s inevitably had to be the moon. That, however, was only in a putative sense in that the operative moon god of the day was her father Sin.

Since moonlight effectively turns darkness into relative daylight, Inanna has in legends been referred to as Diana Lucifera, the latter term meaning “light-bringer”. Inanna’s association with the moon, General, partly explains why she was called the “Heavenly One” since the moon is a heavenly body, that is, a firmament-based body. It also explains why she was also known as Luna, which is Latin for moon.

A STEERED LIFE FOR GOOD OR ILL

Now, children of royals, aristocrats and other such members of high society, General, are invariably named before they are born. True, when a Prince William or Prince George comes along, the word that is put out into the public domain is that several names have been bandied about and the preferred one will “soon be announced”. That, General, is utter hogwash.

No prince, princess, or any other member of the nobility for that matter, is named at or sometime after their birth. Two names, a feminine and a masculine one, are already finalised whilst the child is in the womb, so that the name the child eventually goes by will depend on no other factor beside its gender.

Princess Diana, General, was named a full week after her birth, as if consultations of some sort with certain overarching figures had to be concluded first and foremost. Apparently, the broader outlines of her future first had to be secretly mapped out and charted in the manner of a child of destiny, though in her case she was as much a child of destiny as she was a doomed child. In her childhood reminiscences, Diana does hint at having been tipped to the effect that she was a special child and therefore had to scrupulously preserve herself.

“I always felt very different from somebody else, very detached,” she told her biographer Andrew Morton as per his 1992 book Diana Her True Story – In Her Own Words. “I knew I was going somewhere different but had no idea where. I said to my father when I was 13, ‘I know I am going to marry someone in the public eye’.” That, General, speaks volumes on the deliberately designed grooming she was subjected to in the formative years of her pilgrimage in life.

Since it was repeatedly drummed in her highly impressionable mind that there was something big in store for her along the way, Diana, General, remained chaste throughout her upbringing, if not an outright virgin to in all probability conform to the profile of the goddess Diana/Inanna before she exploded into a lecherous, loose-mannered nymphomaniac in her adult life as we underscored in the Earth Chronicles series. “By the time I got to the top of the school,” Diana said to Morton, “all my friends had boyfriends but not me because I knew somehow that I had to keep myself very tidy for whatever was coming my way.”

A DISPARAGED BIRTH?

Unusual for an aristocrat, General, Diana was born not in the rather apt precincts of a high-end hospital but within the banality of Park House itself. Whether hired midwives were on hand to help usher her into the world or it was only her dad, mum and closer womenfolk relations who did we can only speculate.

If for one reason or the other her parents were desirous that she be delivered at home, what secret rites did they perform as her mother’s waters broke, General? What incantations, if at all, did John utter over her? Was her birth an occultic one with all the attendant paraphernalia as opposed to a conventional one?

That Diana’s arrival was not a particularly cherished event, General, is evidenced by the fact that she was christened within the Sandringham Estate, at St. Mary Magdalene Church, with only well-to-do commoners in attendance, whereas the more prized child, her younger brother Charles, was christened at Westminster Abbey, in the presence of the Queen, who was designated as his principal godmother.

Anyhow, it was just as well, General, that it was in the hallowed environs of St. Mary Magdalene Church that Diana was committed to the “The Lord” as she was in a manner of speaking the Mary Magdalene of our day.

NEXT WEEK: A FAMILY THAT DABBLED IN WITCHCRAFT

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Challenges in our lives

21st June 2022

Allah Almighty reminds us: ‘On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear’ (Qur’an 2:286). Also: “Be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are the patient.” [Qur’an 8: 46].

Without fail, whether we like it or not there are times in our lives when many things seem to go wrong and as mere humans we go into a panic syndrome and are left wondering; why me? Why now? What have I done to deserve this? We are all tested with adversity, hard times and pain, but these tribulations are the Almighty’s way of transforming us and help us develop spiritually.

As mere humans we all have different reactions when something good or bad happens to us, and usually our reactions depend on the strength of our religious belief and of our righteous deeds and actions.

One person may receive blessings and goodness with gratitude and accepts the bad challenges and patches in his life with perseverance and endurance. This positive attitude brings him peace of mind and happiness, causing his grief, anxiety and misery to ease. Thus, this positivity brings a balance and contentment in his life.

On the other hand another person receives blessings and goodness with arrogance and transgression; his manners degenerate and become evil; he receives this goodness and utilizes it in an unthinking and uncaring manner; it does not give him any peace of mind as his mind is always distressed, nervous and restless.

Thus when faced with loss and difficulty, due to his arrogant nature, he begins to ask why me? What have I done to deserve this and he may even damn and curse others and thinks that they are plotting his downfall.

But every now and then we should stop to ponder over the blessings both apparent and hidden from The Almighty upon us, it is only then that we will realise that our Lord has granted us abundant blessings and protected us from a number of evils; this will certainly ease our grief and anxiety and bring about a measure of happiness and contentment.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Look to those who are lower than you (those who possess less than you) and do not look to those higher than you; this will make you appreciate the bounties of Allah upon you.”

Whether we are believers or disbelievers, virtuous or sinful, most of us are to a certain degree able to adapt and condition ourselves to face adversity and remain calm during these moments of challenge, uncertainty and upheaval.

When people receive affliction with fear, discontent, sorrow and despair; their life becomes miserable, they panic and become short tempered. Such people are unable to exercise patience remain restless, stressed and cannot find contentment that could make life easier for them.

On the other hand, due to a believer’s strong faith and reliance on Allah, it makes him persevere and he emerges stronger than others in difficult situations as this reduces his fear and anxiety and that ultimately makes matters easier for him. If he is afflicted with sickness, poverty or any other affliction, he is tranquil and content and has no desire for anything which has not been decreed for him.

‘If Allah touches you with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He touches you with happiness, He has power over all things’ (Qur’an 6: 17).Therefore the believer prays to his Lord: ‘Our Lord, condemn us not if we forget or fall into error…lay not on us a burden greater than which we have the strength to bear’ (Qur’an 2:286)

However, the one who is weak in faith will be just the opposite; he becomes anxious, nervous, confused and full of fear. The anxiety and paranoia will team up against him because this person does not have the faith that could enable him to persevere during tough times, he is less likely to handle the pressures and will be left in a somewhat troubled and depressed state of mind.

It is natural that as humans we are always fearful of losing the things that we have acquired; we desire and cherish them and we are anxious to acquire more, because many of us will never reach a point where we are satisfied with the material things in life.

When certain frightening, disturbing or unsettling events occur, like emergencies or accidents we find that a person with sound faith is calm, steadfast, and able to cope with the situation and handle the hardship he is going through; such a person has conditioned himself to face afflictions and this makes his heart stronger and more steadfast, which gives him a level of tranquillity.

This shows the difference between a person who has strong belief and acts accordingly, and another who is not at this level of faith. Due to the strong belief of the true believer he is content with whatever Allah Almighty has decreed,

This life is full of ups and downs and uncertainties, but the only certain thing is that from the moment we are born we will be tested with life’s challenges throughout our entire lives, up to and to the final certainty, death. ‘Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives, or the fruits of your toil, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere’ (Qur’an2:155).

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “How wonderful is the matter of the believer! All of his matters are good and this is the case for nobody except a believer. If he is blessed with prosperity he thanks (Allah Almighty) and that is good for him; and if he is afflicted with adversity he is patient and perseveres and that is also good for him.”

During those challenging times you have three choices: either you can let them define you, let them destroy you; or you can let them strengthen you.

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Train Spotting

21st June 2022

Here in Botswana we are in the throes of winter chills, currently experiencing the tail-end of a deep freeze in South Africa which has brought snow to parts of the Karoo. Conversely, over in the United Kingdom, they are moving into summer and there is a mini heatwave happening, with temperatures in the thirties.

Both countries have one thing in common – they are heavily reliant on tourism revenues and both have accordingly suffered due to Covid which severely curtailed all movement and travel, most of all for leisure and pleasure. However, earlier this year the UK cast off the last of its Covid restrictions and travel requirements and basically declared the pandemic to be over. Britain was back in business!

So the very hard-hit hospitality sectors finally had some good news. The crowds would be returning, needing hotel and bed & breakfast accommodation, snacks and sit-down meals, pub lunches and all manner of ancillary services. Other related sectors also put out the metaphorical flags – theatres, cinemas, theme parks, camping & caravan sites, all of which had suffered hugely during the pandemic and all could now re-open their doors to paying punters.

If you’ve ever visited the UK you will know of its many attractions. London is not only a vibrant, multi-cultural city, it is also very historic, with centuries-old palaces and cathedrals and world-class galleries and museums. Outside the capital, there is glorious scenery, from rolling pastures in the south to the breath-taking Lake District and the Highlands and lovely lochs to the far north in Scotland plus all manner of coastal delights and cultural experiences.

For everyone even remotely involved in leisure, hospitality and entertainment, it was cash registers and swipe machines at the ready!

But then green for go suddenly and without warning changed to red for stop. It began with misery for air passengers. Only last week the UK Guardian reported ‘It has been another ” week of chaos at UK airports, with hundreds of flights cancelled and holidaymakers facing long queues, with reports of waits of up to eight hours. Pent-up demand for travel and staff shortages have combined to put pressure on airports and airlines.’

The Prospect union, which represents thousands of aviation staff, ” warned on Tuesday that “things could get worse this summer before they get better”, quoting staff shortages across the industry, with a huge reliance on overtime to get by day to day. The problem stemmed from the massive, industry-wide lay-offs over Covid and a sector seemingly taken by surprise by the lifting of travel restrictions. Airlines are now scrambling to replace staff made redundant, many of whom were forced to find employment in other sectors.

In addition some specialised staff such are aircrew had no option but to let their licences lapse and now find themselves technically not fit for flying duties. Ironically, one of the country’s largest and longest-established airline – British Airways – appears to be the one most severely affected with many of their former cabin crew members reporting that they had been laid off during the downturn with the promise of potential re-employment later but who are now being told their services are not required.

One BA pilot has warned of potential staff exodus and further delays that could last through to winter. When talking about ongoing staff shortages in the industry he predicted: “We might be correctly crewed by winter time. There is no chance this will be sorted this summer.

The last month (August) might be okay.” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps put the blame squarely on the industry for the widespread chaos, saying some airlines had cut too many staff during the pandemic. “The decisions as to whether or not to lay off in the end were airlines’ decisions. They clearly in the end, looking back, cut too far on that,” he told the BBC.

Lufthansa is also joining the party in announcing cancellations. The airline will be scrapping 900 flights from its schedule, from next month. Affected flights will predominantly be on Fridays and weekends to a number of European destinations, from Frankfurt and Munich.

The airline stated: “After …two years of the pandemic, Lufthansa group airlines report high demand for air travel this summer……At present, however, the infrastructure has not yet been fully restored. The entire aviation industry, especially in Europe, is currently suffering from bottlenecks and staff shortages. This affects airports, ground handling services, air traffic control, and also airlines.”

Of course some flights are taking place and some tourists are managing to make it into the UK on a much-needed holiday but for many of them sadly, the airport might be as far as they get because to add to the flight misery, members of two large transport union, the RMT and Unite, will bring the London Underground to a grinding halt next week with planned strike action.

Simultaneously, but in a separate dispute, other RMT members will also be staging a series of strikes on Network Rail and other mainline UK train operators. So should those tourists wish to proceed to some of the country’s top holiday destinations, they’d be well advised to seek an alternative means of transport.

Economists are already predicting this wave of strikes to cost the UK economy at least £91million, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, proving devastating for the night-time and hospitality industries in particular. Hospitality chiefs estimated the national rail strike alone will cost the sector £540million over the week amid a 20 per cent drop in sales, the combination of which will hit ‘fragile consumer confidence’ and could ‘deliver a fatal financial blow’ to some firms.

In response, Transport for London (TFL), presumably in all seriousness, said its teams from Santander Cycles will be ensuring hire bicycles are ‘distributed at key locations according to demand’ and told commuters that ‘walking or cycling may be quicker for some journeys’ during the strike action.

Sounds to me like the message is ‘On yer bike’!

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