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Is the Church under siege?

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Once perceived as a haven for lost souls, the Church is losing its allure and authority as several religious leaders continue to make all the wrong headlines, from sexual misconduct, financial mismanagement and murder. This begets the question: Is religion still relevant in the modern world, and is the role of the Church being eroded by the very individuals expected to uphold positive principles and values in order to inspire and guide their communities? Religious leaders, by definition, are interlocutors between communities and other leaders, as well as followers of other faiths.

They are ambassadors of goodwill. What we can realistically expect from dialogue between leaders and followers of different faiths is to create an environment conducive to peaceful coexistence, an articulation of common values and the ability to work together to address niggling issues in society like moral decay, poverty reduction, assisting those who are less privileged, fighting drug abuse among young people, fighting domestic abuse, maintaining the institution of family and also having an input in issues related to the promotion and protection of social justice, and fighting against all forms of discrimination and prejudice because religion is at the core of the ethical, moral and spiritual fabric of most societies.

This past weekend, the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (U.C.C.S.A) held a choir festival at Ditshupo Hall where choirs from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe shared music under the theme, ‘Singing Glory to God, The Lights To Shine.’ The spiritual leaders of the church noted that despite the trying times that we live in, the church can still make a positive difference in the lives of people to ensure they are closer to God, reject sin and do good for others. What is the role of religion in the modern world?

An excerpt from an academic paper by Centre for Islam and Public Policy, explains that the role of religious leaders in the modern world is to help people grapple with the changes in life. “The modern world has presented us with issues that were inconceivable for humanity a century ago: economic and cultural globalisation, new technologies, the emergence of social media, global warming and environmental decay, introduction of the weapons of mass destruction in warfare, which can all lead to moral decay. Religious leaders today are called upon to respond to these issues and also provide leadership to their followers on how to cope with them.”

What is the role of religion and Churches in Botswana society? In an interview, Reverend James McKeran of the Anglican Church said that Botswana has always accorded religious leaders respect and honour that is not always observed in other parts of the world. McKeran, who served as a Dean at the Anglican Cathedral Church between 2012 and 2015, explained that he appreciates how priests and pastors are culturally given respect and engaged on issues of relevance and importance to society in Botswana.

“Religious leaders are engaged in diplomatic circles and included with civic leaders. We were engaged on different issues and sometimes travelled with leaders, where we would be expected to give a spiritual view of issues. “Unlike in other parts of the world, Batswana have always enjoyed access to thought leaders, community and religious leaders.” He said that different religions are respected and accorded economic and spiritual privileges in our society, adding that in the 150 years that the Church has existed in Botswana, it has cemented a relationship of service and love with the community and leaders, and not one of status and wealth.

He said that churches and religious leaders should be part of the conversation relating to the changes in our society, from technology to morality. “The church has historically played an important role in calling out unacceptable behaviour and practice; this should continue. “You would remember for one that the Church was against the ills of colonialism and had a voice throughout to most African countries gaining independence.” McKeran shied away from commenting on the undesirable behaviours of certain religious leaders, but emphasised that Churches and religion as a whole, play a crucial role in society that can never be overlooked. Should sin be tolerated?

A church leader who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that the deeds of certain individuals should not reflect on religious bodies. “We cannot disregard the fact that religious leaders are also human and just as susceptible to sin but this of course does not mean that it is tolerated. We should send a strong warning to these individuals and ensure that they dance to the music. “However, the ethics and morals of religion should be upheld regardless of the next person. Each individual is going to face the music for their deeds one day.” The past week has been awash with the debate on men of God who indulge in immoral activities. This is so because of late, Botswana has been hit by one scandal after the other, involving pastors, priests, preachers and prophets.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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