Polygamy is a bad idea

Our African renaissance movement has seen a lot of us speaking passionately about our cultural revival. We speak of bringing back initiation schools, dikgafela, traditional games and/or restore our traditional practices in general.

Some of these ideas have been received well by some of our tribal groupings in Botswana, leading to the revival of bojale and bogwera, cultural events where traditional cuisine and beverages are served to the public and promotion of traditional dress.  While generally appreciated, opponents of such revival calls have argued, even cautioned that the practices could potentially resuscitate tribalism in our country.  Rightfully so, some call for respect of dikgosi, on grounds that they were the custodians of our foundations as a nation. It is however, disturbing that whilst it is important to preserve our culture, we sometimes call for some practices that were never on the tapestry of our culture. Just over the weekend, one traditional leader, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele of Manyana, called on the revival and legalisation of polygamy.  While in the past we hear it was, in modern Botswana polygamy is not part of mainstream culture. It is therefore unfair for any individual, including members of Bogosi institution to call for this practice on the grounds that it was part of our culture. Again, while other cultural practices can, and have been, justified, polygamy however is a personal thing that touches on the core of family and individual rights and values. It is a sensitive matter that troubles the mind and challenges the progressiveness of gender equality. Polygamy demeans women. We do not, therefore, believe polygamy has a space in modern Botswana, which is part of a global village. In the past, we were not signatories or appreciated international conventions, or treaties espousing human rights and personal liberties, gender equality, and other protocols and laws on the freedoms, protection and emancipation of all citizens. In the past, probably 40 to100 years ago, the furthest many of us could go was between two villages or towns.  While we may reminisce about ‘the good old days…’ those are long gone and we live in communities and nations whose governing laws, practices and customs that are fair to all genders. We are no longer isolated tribes or nations. We live in the global village that has developed and/or are developing common practices and cultures.  We travel between countries and continents in the space of hours. We sell our goods and services to the outer world; we dine and wine world communities. It would, therefore, be naïve of us want to go back to our old practices, that in many ways oppressed half the population, women.  It is with this backdrop that we are against some of our old practices, polygamy in particular. We urge our traditional leaders to accept that time will never allow Batswana to go back to their olden divisive ways that would bring anything but disharmony in the family, the community and the nation at large. We also urge out traditional leaders to be careful on what they say in public as their word carries weight and had the potential to divide the nation. We must caution as we remember the xenophobic attacks that were unleashed on African national in South African recently following the public utterances of the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Today’s thought

Editor's Comment
Happy Independence!

We are 56 years old and what do we have to show for it? Looking at where Botswana started and where it is today, there are a lot of developments, but whether the developments match the number of years we have enjoyed as a country is a topic for another day.The fact that cannot be denied is we have seen major developments, but we are still lacking in several pertinent areas.Our beautiful country imports almost everything. We import fuel, food,...

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