Shame on us men!

23rd January 2017
The Fireplace


By Matshediso Fologang -

Has our society reached the lowest point in the moral decay? Have we as a people come to a stage whereby we totally disregard our societal values? This past festive period I had ample time to interact with the elderly men of the society that I lived with. More of these were casual and I actually went through cultural shock. Each and every adult I sat around with seemed to have given up on the fact that our morality was at its worst level.

The recent media reports that Kgosi Mosielele of Manyana had said that women were in some cases to blame for the gender based violence or something to that effect, surprised me. Coming from Rara to me it meant that we should seriously introspect. I was however shocked by what I learnt from some of Magosana ba Gamalete during the festive period, In a traditional set-up we rejoice when we live within the context of peace and freedom Lelapa (homestead) is the primary institution which consists of man and woman with offsprings (bana). Both man and woman have definite responsibilities as malome/rakgadi, rangwane/mmangwane, Rre/Mme and Rremogolo/Mmegogolo (Nkuku)

In the Setswana society these are considered parents to all the children within the family. Each adult’s responsibility is to ensure that children (bana) receive love, eat well, learn culture and a communal history and heritage. The lelapa is the institution in which the children receive the understanding that “motho ke motho ka batho ba bangwe” It is here that the spirit of botho is nurtured and grown as it drilled into the children to prepare them for life.In our society the father and the other complement each other in the disciplinary processes of the children. The father is expected to lead the discipline and the mother to impart the experience of passion and love.

They jointly impart issues of culture, respect, humility, and practising of these. Every elderly sibling takes full responsibility for the young ones to behave, to be honest and through practice. Generally the manner and behaviour inside and outside lelapa is guided by rules of the community that have been passed from one generation to the next. It is through our socialisation process that men are taught that “mosadi gaa betswe.”. No way in our society, do we have room for violence against women. In traditional counselling men talk of woman as a child and this should not be taken literally. It clearly means that men should treat women (wives) like they were taught to handle children.

Batswana men go into adulthood expected to treat women with passion and love. Batswana women on the other hand are counselled to be mothers to their men. This is about sharing familial chores as partners of equal standing. There is need to accept that traditionally, even though men were heads of family, it never gave exclusive rights to be bullies in their families. Men were brought to order by support system provided through mephato, malapa and kgotla systems.This then brings me back to the interaction I had with magosana over the festive season. These traditionally are custodians of cultural value systems and norms.

They are expected to assist in promoting harmonious relationships within the families and their dikgotla. In our discussions, these leaders told me in their work they strongly felt women provoked men to an extent that men became violent and abusive. I learnt from these men that a number of abused men in Ramotswa had started extramarital relationships with younger women. Unashamedly they told of the young girls who called themselves “ditamati” residing in one part of Ramotswa, who were actually commercial sex workers.

The so-called abused men sought sexual comfort from these “ ditamati”.As parents, fathers and traditional leaders they used the false stories of women provoking and abusing men to justify cross generational relationships and male promiscuity. I am angry with these men and I just think Kgosi Mosielele didn’t mean that men should run around to engage in this. Remember Motswana says, “Ya morago e gata ha ya pele e gatileng teng”. Shame on us men.

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