We are a dead society with no morals

21st February 2018
The Fireplace
Column

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By Matshediso Fologang -


Is sea-ntlo still possible? In the true Setswana set up there was no child who could ever be vulnerable and orphan. The extended family network ensured that the children who for some reason had lost their parents were a responsibility of those remaining. In case either of the spouses left, arrangements were made within the confines of the family to allow a sibling of the deceased to enter the house of the departed brother or sister. Such arrangement allowed the remaining sibling to provide for and to protect the spouse and the children from hardships.

The society expected only the younger brother to step up in his elder brother’s house to assume all conjugal rights over his sister in law. It was taboo for the elder brother to go into his younger brother’s house. In case it was the wife who had passed on, her younger sister would be expected to move in to her sister’s home. Like their male counterparts, the arrangement meant that she becomes the wife to her brother in law. We should not concentrate on the conjugal relations but ask ourselves how this arrangement benefitted the child and the mother.

This was an arrangement that in most cases made sure that both the children were not dispossessed or disinherited. Society expected a brother who had been asked to take his late brother’s wife to fully assume the husband and father role over the family. He assumed all the responsibilities. Likewise, the younger sister who went into her elder sister’s home was to become a wife and mother to the husband and her sister’s children. This arrangement ensured that the question of vulnerability was escaped and was not as rampant as we witness lately. Is this still possible? We have moved away from the confines of extended family and therefore lost all the good things it taught us.

We have become a society that has nothing to do with the extended family. We only relate with our nuclear families. We have always become very greedy. Who hasn’t heard of some families fighting the wife of a deceased relative over the property that he meant to bequeath his wife and children? At the height of the Aids pandemic, who has not heard of families battling it out for the property left by the dead parents. In these battles the poor children (orphans) are rendered vulnerable. We have fought over corpses not for anything than the money, the cattle, the houses and many such material things much at the expense of the very people who mourn for their deceased husband, wife, father and mother..

Our traditional society was made of caring and loving people, not the greedy ones of today. Step mothers and fathers with blood relations to the deceased rarely abused their nephews and nieces because they had blood bonds. In our modern sophisticated society, we hear of step fathers who not only disinherit but abuse their step children. We live in an era where step mothers hate the children from the husband’s previous marriage. We are a dead society with no morals.




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