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Human Personality 3 


discipline and self control

Continuing with the theme of human personality for any believer the most important thing is faith – faith to believe in the Lord, in His Prophets and in the Divine Laws and Injunctions.

To abide by them, one needs a certain degree of discipline and self-control; therefore the most important characteristic of a believer is that of having the inner discipline to follow the injunctions.

This discipline and self-control is the distinguishing feature and is the defining line between belief and unbelief. Whereas a true believer will try his utmost to obey and follow those Commands, the unbeliever will live by his own dictates and desires.

Discipline / self-control: Discipline is the ability to exercise restraint and control of one’s emotions, actions or thoughts, and at times the will to follow what is right rather than follow what may be considered to be the ‘fashionable’ thing to do.

It is not something we are born with but it is the one personality trait that needs to be nurtured and developed within ourselves. It comes from our own inner belief and conviction that says to us that there are certain standards of behaviour and action that we abide by and conform to. This is the foundation and building block that we have to build upon so that we lead our lives in the true spirit of our beliefs in the injunctions of our Lord.

Discipline plays a major role in the life of a Muslim. For example, Muslims have to offer compulsory five times daily prayers (Salaah/Namaaz) that are interspaced at specified times throughout the day – starting with the pre-dawn prayer and ending with the evening prayer at about 8 pm. Prior to offering these prayers we have to be in a state of purity by undergoing the necessary ablutions (wudhu) without which we will not be able to offer prayers.

‘Be steadfast in prayer and regular charity’ Quran 2:110. ‘Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong…..’ Quran 31: 17

This is a form of discipline which teaches us that even in the conduct of our daily lives there is a time for our normal daily activities but there is also a time for our Creator, Allah. Believers will where possible drop everything they are doing to answer the call to prayer.

If they are able to they will join the congregation at the Mosque, otherwise they will offer their prayers individually at a suitable location. These five times daily prayers are where the true test of discipline comes in because, we have to place our obligations to Allah before the routine of our own daily lives.

If I recall the Bible also echoes the same message when it says ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and unto God what belongs to God’. Basically this means that there is a time for everything, be it our daily chores or the time for our Lord. It is in the same spirit that Muslims will interrupt their daily routines to give to Allah the worship that belongs to Him.

Fasting is a practice common to many religions – Islam has prescribed obligatory fasting (the month of Ramadan) in the form of a month-long period of abstinence accompanied by intensive devotional activity. The fasting involves the total abstinence from all food, drink and marital relations throughout the daylight hours; not even water may be taken, and no don’t even think about smoking either! The fast is broken at sunset each day and resumed the next day before the sun rises.

‘O ye who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may learn self-restraint’ Quran 2:183.

It goes without saying that the fasting is test of discipline and one that trains a Muslim in self-control. Fasting makes a Muslim disciplined, steadfast and resilient and this also trains him to be flexible and adaptable in his habits, thus capable of enduring hardship. It also brings to mind the hardships that our fellow humans suffer especially those who are poor and needy and have no food to eat.

Fasting does not necessarily mean abstinence from food and drink alone, but from all the major vices and sins. For example he must refrain from quarrelling, speaking lies, slandering and other such deeds. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘Allah has no need for him to go without food or drink who cannot shun evil and falsehood even during a fast’ and also ‘Many are there among you who fast and yet gain nothing from it except thirst and hunger’.

Whilst fasting may appear difficult to some, in practice it is generally tolerable and is relatively easy for many people, the benefits are that it brings about a feeling of intense spirituality. Some of my non-Muslim friends are at times taken aback at what they see as ‘impossible and very difficult’ obligations of Islam, but to a practicing Muslim these come as second nature.

The daily prayers and the month long fasting are part and parcel of some of the building blocks that nurture and build that discipline within the character of a Muslim. The world has many temptations and these desires come in different guises on a daily basis; yet despite us claiming to be God fearing, how many of us easily fall into the trap of lying, cheating, stealing, being unfaithful – in word deed, action and even to our partners, adultery, envy, and all the daily temptations/ challenges that come our way? ‘….true but you led yourself into temptation….your false desires deceived you’ Quran 57:14

To be a true believer we have to abide by our religious beliefs, one needs a certain degree of discipline and self-control to suppress our humanly urges and desire so as to follow the straight path, but importantly it must be a lesson that teaches us not to take the bounties of Allah for granted and to be ever thankful for them.

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Government Should Restrict State Lottery Participation To Citizens

30th June 2020

The announcement on June 5 that Botswana finally had a national lottery was received with a fair amount of fanfare. There was no frenzied fist pumping or some such joyous acclamation or ululation but the mood of anticipatory excitement was palpable, more so on social media.

The euphoria, albeit a muted one, is understandable: we have at long last come to the party too, when many of our fellow African countries have had state lotteries for decades now. Zambia’s, for example, has been in existence since the early 70s. As the all-too-familiar but counter-productive adage goes, there’s no hurry in Botswana, with some people adding the rather hollow and vainglorious boast, “We are very rich”, which certainly is a side-splitting stretch of the truth.

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Moses was Joseph’s Grandson

30th June 2020

… and he was not encountered on a water course

Exactly how did Joseph (Yuya to the Egyptians) look like, General Atiku? The answer is not a difficult one as his well-preserved mummy, along with that of his wife Tuya, was found in a tomb of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in 1905.

He does not remotely look like the Egyptians of the day, General, who were Negroid, but comes across as a white Jew. One description characterises him thus: “He was a person of commanding presence, whose powerful character showed itself in his face.

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The case against COVID-19 mass community testing

30th June 2020

There is a school of thought which holds the view that mass community testing is a necessity if we are to win the war against the COVID-19 pandemic. Another holds the view that targeted testing is sufficient. I subscribe to the latter view for reasons I shall discuss herein.

First is the issue of the cost of the tests as opposed to their value. Unfortunately, I am not aware of the cost per test in Botswana. I shall use the case of South Africa for two reasons.

Firstly, at the beginning of the pandemic, our samples were taken there for testing. Secondly, though the Botswana Pula is stronger than the South African Rand, the cost of the COVID-19 test is unlikely to vary much because of the proximity of the two countries.

According to Dr. Nathi Mdladla, Associate Professor and Head of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Sefako Makgatho University, the cost of a COVID-19 test in South Africa per capita is ZAR 1 200.00. This is equivalent to BWP 811.63.

To put the issue of cost into perspective, we need to consider Botswana’s COVID-19 statistics. As at 23rd June 2020, Botswana had 33919 tests performed and resulted; 33830 negative cases; 89 confirmed cases; 10 new confirmed cases; 1 death and 25 recoveries.

If we use the amount of BWP 811.63 per test, it means we spent BWP 27, 529,677.97 on tests out of which there were only 89 confirmed cases and the rest were negative. From these 89 confirmed cases, only 1 died.

If we had been conducting mass community testing as some people suggest, we could have tested, say, 120,000 people by now at a staggering cost of BWP 97, 395,600.00.

According to Dr. Mdladla, when embarking on a medical test of any sort regard must be had to, inter alia, the indication of the test, that is is there any value derived from testing? Here, the question is: are you testing for a particular value or you are testing for the sake of testing?

It is common cause that COVID-19 neither has a vaccine nor a cure. If you take HIV/AIDS for instance, though it has no cure, it has treatment in the form of Anti-Retroviral (ARVs) drugs.

So, if there were to be mass community testing for HIV/AIDS, for instance, one of the values of such tests would be to enrol those who test positive on ARV treatment.

The fact is, due to resource constraints, the hundreds or thousands who may test positive for COVID-19 from mass community testing cannot even all be put in quarantine or isolation even if they are symptomatic. No country can have such capacity.

In my view, the only benefit that can be derived from mass community testing is awareness of the prevalence of the pandemic, and perhaps the most affected areas. The question is: what further value can be derived from that?

Proponents of mass community testing argue that this information is useful for the country to decide on its allocation of resources for procurement of ventilators, PPE equipment and hospital beds.

In my view, a country does not need to spend millions in mass community testing for such a purpose. The same result can be achieved through scenario planning and modelling, something which all countries have done or ought to have done.

In my view, instead of spending millions in mass community testing, the country should assume the worst-case scenario and use such money to procure ventilators, PPE equipment and hospital beds. In any case, even if the worst case scenario does not materialise, such resources can be used for future medical eventualities.

The other consideration which Dr. Mdladla says should be taken into account when conducting medical tests is accuracy of a test . That is, the test must have a high specificity and high sensitivity. It must have very low false negatives and low false positives.

In early April, the President, Vice President, some cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and some journalists were put in quarantine following a case involving a nurse who had contact with them, which some argue may have been a false positive.

About one week ago, the Greater Gaborone COVID-19 zone was put on lock down because of false positive results at a private hospital.

In my view, given the possible false COVID-19 results, it would not be prudent to conduct mass community testing. Imagine if the tests return thousands of false positives!

The other consideration which Dr. Mdladla says should be taken into account when conducting medical tests is that the test must be meaningful for wide-spread use, for instance, if a cure exists and where knowing the status has impact on disease/population management then the test is useful.

We have already argued that since COVID-19 has no cure, mass community testing would be of little value, if any. Dr. Mdladla argues that knowing that one’s status is positive does not change anything for the majority of patients who are not sick as the disease is self-limiting, but it is useful in those presenting with moderate to severe symptoms.

He also argues that even if one tests negative there is a possibility that this could be wrong and one need not drop their guard. In his view, therefore, it is better to assume that everyone is positive and to test only those who are symptomatic for focused management. I agree.

He posits the question: if 80% of the population has mild disease that does not require admission, what is the value of knowing that people are positive when they can’t be treated, especially in the face of high false negatives?

In his view, it would be cost effective to assume that everyone is positive and continue practices aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. I agree. This is where our resources should go to, not to mass community testing.

The other consideration which Dr. Mdladla says should be taken into account when conducting medical tests is that they must be cheap and easy to perform and interpret.

In my view, if a single COVID-19 test can cost about BWP 811.63, it is not cheap. Some people earn that much as a monthly salary which takes care of an entire household. The fact that the test is so costly suggests that it is not easy to perform and interpret.

The other consideration which Dr. Mdladla says should be taken into account when conducting medical tests is that they should require minimal expertise in the remote population settings.

Clearly, considering the cost of a COVID-19 test, and the fact that the tests can only be conducted by experts using specialised equipment, it can be safely concluded that the test requires high expertise, making it difficult to conduct in remote population settings.

It is common cause that Botswana’s population is mainly based in rural and remote arears, posing a challenge for mass community testing if it were ever to be government policy.

The other consideration which Dr. Mdladla says should be taken into account when conducting medical tests is that they should be less invasive, giving an example of a pregnancy test which one can conduct on their own. It appears to me that the COVID-19 test fails this test since it must be conducted by an expert.

The other consideration which Dr. Mdladla says should be taken into account when conducting medical tests is that they should entail short processing time to allow an appropriate intervention in the shortest time.

It appears to me that the COVID-19 test passes this test since the results can be available within 48 hours though a second test must be made about two days apart to confirm the initial result.

In view of the aforegoing, I conclude that government of Botswana’s decision to conduct targeted COVID-19 testing as opposed to mass community testing is well advised.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or

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