In 1981, 44.4 percent of males and 41.5 percent of females were reported to be married, while in 2001 it was only 17.1 percent of males and 17.9 percent of females.
While Kgosi Seboko admitted that high costs of bogadi are a contributing factor, she said Batswana are also predisposed to extravagance during weddings with non-traditional items like draped marquees, white wedding dresses worn for a single day only and expensive wedding rings.
Kgosi Seboko was speaking in Gaborone at a national conference on marriage patterns and trends in Botswana.
She said she was against suggestions that bogadi should be abolished, saying, traditionally, bogadi was a pledge between two families showing a commitment of coming together.
Further, she said traditionally there were arrangements that could be made if a groom was financially unable to give the bogadi. She said modern life has distorted the real meaning of bogadi.
"In Ga-Malete we have something called serufo, where a groom can give just one cow as a sign of his intention to marry and he is thereafter recognised as a husband. Also if a husband had not paid his own bogadi, if his daughter got married, her
bogadi was then passed on to his wife's parents," she said.
She decried that modern life has distorted bogadi, saying most parents are using it to get rich and make up for their inability to make money elsewhere. This, she said, does not augur well for the newlyweds.
"The huge amounts of money or property that parents ask for may play a role in the domestic abuses that visit marital homes," she said.
The Balete Kgosi also spoke out against cohabitation, saying that although many now see it as an alternative way of living, it is not a positive family trend.
"Cohabiting unions tend to weaken the institution of marriage and pose clear dangers for women and children," she said.
For her part, Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Gloria Somolekae said the promotion of marriage needed a change of mindset and attitudes of individuals and communities towards the institution.
The conference was organised by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, through its National Council on Population and Development.
The conference sought to determine the factors contributing to changing marriage levels and trends, and finding ways to promote marriage in Botswana.