We have become disrespectful to our leaders

25th April 2018
THE FIRE PLACE
Column

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By Matshidiso Fologang


Have we become so angry as a society that we no longer care about what we say about and to each other? Isn’t there a way we could address this nasty and equally demeaning disease?  Could our traditional mephato system of yesteryears that dominated our socialisation process be a solution to our rampant moral decay? How did our society mould us, the old guard, into a more balanced and morally up-right people? What role did these mephato play in social upbringing of children then?  In the traditional society we had what the well-read people who read the big books of Karl Marx would classify as a classless society. But I still want to believe in the then society where we respected each other.

We always knew our station in society as individuals and in our collective. We respected the elderly and those older than us and those who held position of authority. I have been brought up to understand that Kgosi and malome irrespective of their age, were and deserved to respected and revered. A Kgosi or malome was always held in high esteem and awe even by people much older than him. This distinguished us from other societies and in particular from the western societies. Yes, we have moved on and advanced as a modern society. We are told we are part of the global village. Yes we all believe that culture and tradition are dynamic and accommodative of outside influences.

However should we embrace all even those practices that make us immoral and less respectful of our elders and leaders within our homes and society? Of late both traditional and social media have been awash with nasty comments on the leadership across the political divide. What was even awful were rude remarks made to and on the First Family.  We are a democracy and a good, respectable one for that matter. We are proud of this. But we have become so angry and no longer care what we say about those in leadership roles. We are all out to say whatever about whoever because we are angry. Anger should not be used to lower our respect for others even if they are younger than ourselves. In our modern politics we have abandoned our respect for others to an extent where we hurl all sorts of unpalatable words to those we don’t consider as sharing our views.

Recent comments directed at those in leadership reflect a society that has abandoned its Botho value. How can we avoid this? In my village tradition, the leadership had very little input in bringing to order those with wayward behavior but the social structures like the age mates in the form of mephato. Such structures played a critical part in bringing into line those whose behavior was considered wayward. If an individual did things out of line, his age mates were expected to counsel or admonish him. We have abandoned the systems and have become individualistic. We don’t have such support from our age mates. If our society had maintained our traditional mephato we could resort to them to admonish members from making such unpalatable comments on our leaders.




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