When TV picks partners for Batswana


The practice of arranged marriages in Setswana culture has long vanished and now people can use their tastes to pick partners. After shaming and dumping the tradition for years in Botswana, this matchmaking is making a comeback albeit through reality television programme rather than by parents, writes Correspondent AME MOTIMANE

Let’s be clear, it’s not everyone who is fortunate enough to find love on their own and some have even resorted to dating websites like Tagged, Badoo and Zopia for help.

While some have given up, others still believe that their lifetime partner is out there. In the advent of reality television, dating has become even more interesting that one can find their other half on TV.

South Africa, Botswana’s neighbour and source hippy sub-culture, for many had already hit the ground running with their hit reality television show Date My Family. The popular programme aims to help singletons find love by sending them on dates with their potential partner’s family.

Now that Zambezi Magic, or channel 160 on DStv had invited local production houses to put in pitches to produce Botswana’s version of the dating show, Batswana will now welcome strangers in their own homes in the hope of finding a suitable life partner for their family members.

The Date My Family crew takes their bachelors or bachelorettes to share a meal with three different families while the other contestant watches how everything unfolds from a monitor in a separate room.

The bachelor or bachelorette later chooses which family they would like to date from depending on how well their families represented them. After meeting on the first date, the couples then decide whether to go on the second date and even spend the rest of their lives together.

In the past the individual’s parents or older family members had to screen for and find prospective mates for further consideration through their social circle. Culturally in Botswana elders believed in arranged marriages, they would set up for their children to get married at a certain age and this was morally right and accepted. Elders chose whom their children should marry or get married to usually looking at the background of the family and how well they raise their children. Usually an uncle was usually given this task hence the often recurring phrase, ‘malome mpatlela mosadi.’

As the years went by this cultural practice slowly but surely disappeared, as less of these arranged marriages were seen as now people felt it was better for them to choose lifetime partners for themselves.

This cultural practice is now being brought back into practice, but in a more modernised way. People sometimes love to refresh their own culture and presenting it differently to the same people who had shamed it.

In countries like India, arranged marriages are still widely practised and even Bazezuru tribe in Botswana continue to arrange marriage for their children.

Batswana on social media gave their opinion on how they feel about the show coming to Botswana, so most of them felt it wouldn’t work mainly because they do not want to go wave their singleness on national television. 

Some have even expressed that they would not mind such a show because they like to give love a chance in more exciting way.

However, most Batswana are not so keen about having Date My Family come to Botswana.  “Akanya hela Date My Family in a one room house” one Motswana commented on Facebook.

“It won’t work here, aba tsise shows programme tse di serious like cheaters, another Motswana added. Although people still doubt the relevance of the show here, Date My Botswana is happening and when it comes here some wont help but participate.

The hit reality dating show Date My Family South Africa may be packed with drama and epic dating fails every week, but occasionally the show gets it right so hopefully Botswana will get this right too and make it a hit show.

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