We are the Choppies generation!

02nd December 2016
The Fireplace


By Matshediso Fologang -

This Sunday I was sitting under the Motswere tree. It is the same tree under which I sat with my age mates sometime in the 1960s.

We were waiting for the ploughing season. The mood was quite high as we all wanted to be part of the process and practice of food production. Not that we really understood how important our presence was. We had just left the village for masimo. Our being here was part of growing up and socialisation then. We the children were expected to be fully involved in all the chores. We had to wake up quite early in the morning to graze the oxen before the ploughing session every morning without fail. It was not always guaranteed that you could be home for Christmas.

As I sat here on Sunday I realised things have changed tremendously. There is very little ploughing at masimo. Unlike in my youthful days, the rains have come very late and very few people are at masimo. Unlike in the past there are hardly any oxen being prepared/trained for the ploughing season.
Here and there I hear sounds of tractors and the accompanying light truck carrying seed sand fuel. I take a trip around the neighbouring fields. Here also, only parents and few young children sit under the shades awaiting their turn to be ploughed for. Able-bodied youth are no longer part of the team involved in ploughing and related activities.

Some don’t even know what it involves and have absolutely no interest here. They are the Choppies generation.   In those days, the ploughing season normally followed the announcement from Bogosi, Whereby the Kgosi would sometimes around early September tell the morafe that “letsema le re buletswe” (ploughing season has begun). All would go and wait for the rain at the fields, and simultaneously all marriage rituals and ceremonies would be suspended until after harvest. Concentration would only be on food production. Yes, the village in unison carried the order graciously and with respect. It was part of our being. Society was organised around the institution of Bogosi and there was never any coercion to do things together. May be this was what our founding fathers relied on when they chose the path to Independence. 

This Sunday as I came back to the village, on all the roads there were processions of vehicles with colourful decorations with each procession trying to outdo the othefr in blowing their horns. In almost all the seven major dikgoro there was at least one wedding ceremony in each. The crème la crème of able-bodied men and women were here sitting in big marquees and or in their own private vehicles playing music loudly. The eating and drinking was conspicuous. I began to understand why my friends who have read the big books in economics talk of us as a consumer society.

We live to eat only and never bother where this food comes from.Despite all warning that we have food insecurity we still shun producing our food. We have abandoned our simple methods of joining hands within the various clans to produce food. We are the Choppies generation. Is it not time we heeded the cry that Africa faces a food crisis and return to masimo? Yes, not all of us are farmers but let us not discard all our traditions. Imagine the day our neighbours close their gates and stop food exports to BW. Not out of malice but due to insufficient production in their ecoonomu????   

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