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On papgeld child maintenance and ATM fathers

Keletso Thobega

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My dear reader, the other day I was at a certain store minding my own business when a man and woman nearby exchanged verbal missiles. I suspect that if the situation permitted, the lady would have shoved the hem of her dress into her knickers and plummeted that man with angry fists. I understand that the man was with a le-14 and this other woman who is his baby mama, cornered him and asked why he was gallivanting with a youngling when his own child did not have nappies and milk.

We can laugh about that but that is a common situation in Botswana. There are some men who do not want to take responsibility and seem to think children grow like trees. We all know at least one man who is an occasional father or has apparently denied paternity. I once heard from the grapevine that some chap had denied paternity and went on with his life as if nothing had happened. I still shudder when I see this chap and wonder if he knows what kind of bad luck he is attracting. Men who own up to their responsibilities are not foolish. The thing with a child is that you are either in or out. You cannot be a parent when and if it suits you. It is simple; if you don’t want a child, keep your legs closed or use contraceptive. Gone are the days when siring offspring in every corner showed that someone is a “real man”. In actual fact that shows being irresponsible and immature.

Papgeld (child maintenance) issues are often contentious. Ke raa, gatwe makau a nna hela a sekisiwa mo spacing mo. Some of them don’t want to cough up maintenance or even claim to be earning less to avoid paying the required amount. I don’t understand where some men think women get money. Perhaps it is the frustrations of single-handedly raising a child that leads to some women denying their baby daddies the right to see their children. Why would you want to see and spend time with a child whose upkeep you do not contribute towards?
Funny enough, some men often accuse their baby mamas of using the money meant for their children for their own personal stuff like their hair, make-up and nice time. If that is the case, why don’t these men apply for custody and take care of the children themselves?

Strangely, absent or irresponsible fathers often “miraculously” remember that they have children when the child is grown up; or when the mother gets married and he comes and spoils the mood arguing that he “wants his child.” Sadly, it is often the children who suffer when parents fight through the courts. The problem with this culture of paying maintenance is that it creates the idea that a child needs only money to grow. Not true. While money is an important part of raising a child, love, affection as well as emotional and physical support are also important. There is no compensation for adequate care, attention, affirmation and love.

Money alone is not enough. I find it strange that some men need to be reminded to and taught how to take care of their children. Surely if you conceive a child you should be in a position to take responsibility. Gatwe motho wa teng fa a dira ngwana, o tla bo a ja monate e ka re o palame pitse, a herola matlho a bo a kua e ka re podi. Fa gotwe ngwana ke oo motho wa teng o shadikanya matlho e ka re tshwene e kgamilwe ke mmupudi. Tlerere!

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Times a changeling’

Ernest Moloi

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Botswana is gradually reclaiming herself – not necessarily her innocence; we know she has been battered, raped, abused and dumped! Perhaps in her reawakening, she will learn to cherish the hard won values of national cohesion, which for a fleeting moment, were at risk of slipping right through her fingers.

Batswana are better off – they have the best and worst experiences of the peoples of the world to learn from. For example, we know pretty well that the atrocities, carnage, calamity and mayhem of 1994 in Rwanda in which Hutus and Tutsis tore at each other were not a spontaneous mass action.

Neither were the Holocaust in which Jews were slaughtered not the Nakba, which continues to this day with the every day dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs by the Israeli occupation.
In fact we can deduce a clear pattern from all these heinous experiences that they were borne of wilful actions of men and women – despots of the first order who think nothing about nation building but are puffed up with arrogance and self-aggrandisement.

If we profess love for our country, which is often referred to as ‘Patriotism’, we must jealously guard the founding principles bequeathed us by our patriarchs, the same with which they laid the foundations of this republic – and if need be, we must be prepared to die for these principles. True independence is a hard fought battle – independence is not served on a silver platter; it is earned by a people with a fighting spirit, a people ready to become martyrs if only to safeguard posterity and the future of their children!

This nation has for a very long time been deeply divided – the healing process will be gradual, just as the systemic oppression has been. We were divided into pockets of tribes; and through an inherent desire to belong; to have an identity, we clasped on to these tribal fixations to the extent of subverting our new found republicanism with monarchical demagoguery. And every time real politics challenges our moral foundation we find refuge in these fixations in our search for answers. We must however, thank God, for He has never forsaken us – He has always provided a guidepost when it was required, and this He will continue doing until we come unto a common understanding of His purpose for mankind.

In Setswana, there is the maxim; ‘Go kgoberega ga metsi ke go itsheka ga one’ meaning that conflicts are not permanent features but passing phenomena in human existence. There is a time for everything and indeed there is nothing new under the sun! The greatest lesson we can ever learn is that the human race must love one another and live together. It does not matter what skin pigmentation you or I bear – we are all human/ homo sapiens; that is why we are able to breed across the colour divide.

Therefore this imagined barrier that separates one against the other on the basis of skin pigmentation is a farce for the worst ignoramus. Likewise, we are none the wiser if we allow material wealth to define our human relationships. We must transcend these worldly possessions because they cannot satiate the hunger that the soul yearns for companionship and fellowship with a kindred spirit.

Therefore, we can only hope that Mma V will find it in her motherly heart to let bygones be bygones, to bury the hatchet with her nemesis, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and let sleeping dogs lie in the best interest of the country at this critical juncture. She has it within her power to end this fight. It’s really flabbergasting and incomprehensible that delegates can attend a regional congress; make nominations for presidential candidates and later claim they did not know about the election that followed and in which they were active participants.

This is a classical joke. It gets out of hand when tribal elders then call a political meeting outside the sanction of their party to try and undo the electoral process of a political party. In one word, such meeting is tribal and has nothing whatsoever with political affiliation.

In any case when a ward, cell or branch of a party feels aggrieved it does not seek recourse from the village elders, but instead uses the laid down party structures to resolve the differences. What we witnessed this past weekend was the worst form of tribal politics; a last ditch effort by a vanquished faction that risks becoming irrelevant, to seek public sympathy. Mma V; Ian Khama, Moyo Guma and all the other BaNgwato tribesmen must pick up the pieces and throw their weight behind the leader of the BDP and the nation for both their own good and the good of the country at large.

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On public displays of affection and kissing babies

Keletso Thobega

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I was listening to Kim’s show on DumaFM a few weeks ago when she was discussing public displays of affection, commonly referred to as PDA.

I found her views and those of her guest and listeners quite interesting. It is one of those topics that people won’t always agree on. In traditional Botswana, public displays of affection such as kissing and hugging are not common. A handshake or slight touch is as far as it goes. Although things are changing in modern times, Batswana are still not the most affectionate or romantic people, and often refer to certain practices, public affection included as “dilo tsa makgoa.”

I personally don’t mind occasional affection but I am not the ‘touchy huggy’ type. I’m conscious of people getting too close to me because I relish my “space”. I prefer to be affectionate with my loved ones, a few close family and friends. Affection is OK and even research indicates that it is good for one’s mental and psychological well-being. But while a simple hug, pat on the back, slight touch or holding hands is fine; some people take it to different levels and their affection borders on intimacy.

There are people with silly tendencies who seemingly use affection as an opportunity to flirt and entice others sexually. You know those people who are a bit too affectionate, and even if they don’t know someone they’ll be all over them like a rash, motho wa teng a batla go go tlamuka o ipotsa gore o ire jang tota! Motho wa teng o tla bo a susumela, a gagamatsa mmele a nnetse go shenama e ka re o tla re: “A ga re potele ka kwa?”

These random “hugs” are controversial. When the person steps in for a hug, the crotch comes before the body and they hold on tightly, sometimes with their eyes closed and you wonder, is this a hug or foreplay?  Hugging or touching people in a civilised manner is fine if they have no problem with it but there are boundaries. This brings me to the point that we have a social habit of picking up, playing with and kissing babies.

There are ways to amuse or play with a child without kissing them. If the child is not yours… e se wa ko ga lona, please, don’t kiss them. No offence but we don’t know where your lips have been. Children have weaker immune systems so a touch of germs and bacteria can spur illness. I recall this one time I was travelling on a bus and one young lady next to me was seated with her daughter, who was probably two-years old or so. The energetic tot kept the passengers amused with her antics and baby talk. She later got restless and started crying.

Her mother struggled to calm her down. Then this one middle-aged man seated on the opposite seat reached out for the child and started hugging her. He then exclaimed: “Suna papa!” and proceeded to put his dark nicotine-stained mouth to the child’s lips!

He lifted the child and made her wiggle before planting yet another wet kiss on her lips and coddling her. I was horrified! All I could see was a paedophile. The mother was also clearly uncomfortable as she grabbed the child from the man. Look, maybe he meant well… or not.

But his behaviour was the modus operandi of a paedophile – he was too affectionate. Kana these people start off kissing people’s children and then next they start touching them inappropriately ba itekanya a mmitsa mosadi wa gagwe. A re, Suna papa…Heedu, tlerere!

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