Friday, June 21, 2024

In defence of UB academics against Duma Boko

The University of Botswana (UB) academics have recently come under fire from Mr Duma Boko, the president of the Botswana National Front (BNF). Boko accuses us of publishing in obscure journals, providing very little scholarship drawn from poor research.

He said we are non-existent when it comes to the forefront of the survival of the battles of ordinary people (Gazette, 18-24 July 2012). These are not the first attacks and accusations the man has made about UB academics, ever since he resigned from the University he has never said anything positive about UB, its academics and students alike.

Boko has been an academic himself for a decade, 1993-2003, which makes him a man we know very well; in fact, probably more than any other group of people in society would know him.

Of course we know more than anyone that when he was with UB, academically or otherwise he has contributed very little indeed. He knows that we know his strengths and weakness (vide infra), therefore it is so shocking that a man in his position, as President of the BNF, can engage in such a dangerous crusade concerning his former colleagues, who on the other hand have so much dangerous information about him. This man has been itching for war with academics for a very long time but for reasons best known to him alone.

As a former academic himself, he knows very well that we have shown respect to him in terms of the language we use in our analysis of him, his leadership and his party, be it academically, political or just in intellectual intercourse. I cannot imagine how our former colleague could just go on rampage, with such virulent language for so long without applying any brakes, despite the much respect we have shown him so far, even as we differed with him.

When the man left UB, in 2003, he pronounced that the famous institution is going to the dogs. Ao bathong, an Institution that gave you the same LLB that you used to go to Harvard, and UB was also ready to take you wherever you wanted in the world, to pursue your PhD studies! It is common knowledge here that when he left he was overdue for PhD training and also for promotion, but the fact that he did not pick any of the two remains mystery, and nobody ever bothered to ask him why. Why should a man be so bitter about his former employers and colleagues, who did not chase him away?

One wonders what had gone wrong with the big man, who would have loved to have a PhD and become a professor of Jurisprudence. He has always despised some of his promoted colleagues while still at UB for reasons best known to himself, but he himself was not being promoted despite his self-acclaim that he is the best scholar in the land. Colleagues at the revolutionary table have many answers to that effect but I won’t delve into those rumours now.

In my view, back then promotion was very easy, to be promoted to the rank of senior lecturer one needed to satisfy the three assessable areas for academic progress, that is, teaching, research and service. UB normally takes research articles more seriously because at the time UB was beginning to drive towards being a research intensive University, so if you didn’t have the said number of articles it was impossible to progress. But still, only four articles were needed for progress. I don’t think our man failed to acquire just that in the decade he has been with UB, that will be below standard really, to say the least, given the diatribes he constantly throws at us.
Remember that many times our man reminds us that he has numerous scholarly articles archived in reputable world class journals, by that demonstrating that he was an academic of repute, and that he delivered the right quality and has set the bar for his colleagues in Law and UB academics in general. Kae re ye teng?

I took time to consult search engines such as Google and also academic search engines such as Google scholar, and more serious and specialised ones such as web of knowledge and web of science. Google scholar could only show one article by our man, in an obscure Law journal in my view, and the rest showed zero results when the words Duma Boko are typed in as author. No further comment here because anyone can do the searching for themselves using any search engine of choice. You many use words such as David Sebudubudu, Zibani Maudeni or the names of the author of this piece for practice.

In academia, it is not the eloquence and English grammar that makes a rigorous scholar, but publishing researched work. And it is not easy. It takes patience, diligence, foresight, character, attracting funding and many other attributes in addition to intellectualism. It is more than public speaking and mastering the queen’s language, it is serious. We are in the world of publish or perish and in that regard, probably, our man knew exactly his fate, that he will perish and thus took the first flight out of academia. It is an assumption.


Read this week's paper