Bogadi or bride’s price is not part of the Setswana culture according to former Bakwena regent also former president of the Customary Court of Appeal KgosiKwena Sebele. Reacting to The Midweek Sun article BOGADI MUST FALL, that appeared on the September 26, 2018 edition, Kgosi Sebele told this publication in a telephone call:
“I always tell people that Bogadi does not feature anywhere in our culture. You guys should stop consulting wrong people about this issue. Look at how people don’t marry these days over Bogadi which has got nothing to do with us!” he said, and invited The Midweek Sun for an interview on the matter. When The Midweek Sun team visited him at his homestead in Molepolole, the traditionalist was very straight-forward. “I want someone to come forward and challenge me after reading what I’m about to tell you now. People have been ripped off, it’s enough. Bogadi ga se Setswana,” said the free-spirit.
The 73-year-old man says that growing up, he made use of his forefathers and parents and learnt Setswana history from them. He states that Kgosi KgariSechele I should be blamed for the introduction of Bogadi. “He had many wives, possibly more than five and concubines, something that did not sit well with missionaries around 1885. They told him it was a taboo and that as a Christian convert, he had to abandon all the women and remain with only one. Other believers followed suit and renounced polygamy,” he says.
He adds that according to the Setswana culture, when a young man shows signs of puberty and an interest in a young woman, arrangements are made for the two to be kept inside a hut where they are supposed to have sex and it is done to check whether they will conceive. He calls this the “Fencing period” or Engagement in the modern English. He says that if during that fencing period, the couple manages to have a child, when the elder goes to ask for “Sego”, or for the girl’s hand in marriage, her family would be thanked with a cow.
The tribal leader says that the number of cows is determined by the number of children. “The charging of eight cows and whatever is happening is not our culture but selfishness. “In our culture, men go first to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage and then women saying baya go kopa metsi. From there, the family would say to us, ‘ke ao a nweng mme lo re gadimeng kantata ya gore go na le ngwana kana bana.’ From there, they come with the cow or cows based on the number of children. Then the couple is married. What is lawful, he says, is Patlo ya banna le basadi.
His take is that Batswana have lost their culture. “That’s why there are two contracts. People do both the Common Law and Customary Law marriages, which is total confusion. It’s like getting married twice. “Choose the one you want, and decide as a couple not external influence. Weddings are done to show off. Couples are in debts because of demands like Bogadi. Girls will remain single for a long time,” he warns, adding that Bogadi has even turned into business.
Citing a case he once handled, he says a woman from Ramotswa once said she was divorcing her husband because he wanted too much sex from her. “The man in turn said he wanted his cows back because monna yo o nkgang o nkga le ditsagagwe, and I endorsed his request,” he says. His advice is that Batswana should go back to the crossroads. “Molao sekhutlo, morwa mmoelwa yo o sa boelweng ke maleng,” he says.
Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments
Young people representing Botswana at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) in Nairobi, Kenya last week have expressed disappointment at the slow pace at which governments are moving towards achieving ICPD25 ideals.
Trevor Oahile, a youth advocate and student at the University of Botswana participated at the Nairobi Summit to highlight on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of men and boys.
Oahile hosts a radio show sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Don’t Get It Twisted on Yarona FM. The show deals with issues that affect boys and men. Oahile participated in a panel discussion at the Summit on the involvement of men and boys in accelerating the ICPD promise.
He is of the view that countries needs to work together to end violence that is perpetuated by harmful gender norms that are antagonistic to progress towards the ideals of the ICPD agenda. “Botswana government and private sector are still challenged to invest a lot of money into implementing their commitments,” Oahile said, adding that Comprehensive Sexual Education on the other hand has to be rolled out to every school in the country.
“We also acknowledge that it is important to avoid stereotypes that impact decisions that people make. Men and boys often avoid certain services because they are known to be for girls and women,” Oahile said. Millicent Sethaile was at the Summit as a youth ambassador from an organisation called Her Voice, which funds and offers grants to smaller organisations that advocate for SRHR in communities. In her view the summit was significant because it was an opportunity for countries including Botswana to make commitments to fulfill the unfinished business of the ICPD made 25 years ago.
“What struck me the most is that I realised that Botswana has a long way to go to achieve the commitments she set for herself.”Sethaile also observed that the four commitments including to strengthen access to family planning, the reduction of maternal deaths, reduction of Gender Based Violence, provision of quality, timely and disaggregated data are activities that were already in the pipeline and have been discussed before. “I believe we now have to come up with actionable items that we can work on so that we can effectively deal with current challenges.”
For 18 year old University student Michelle Simon, the Nairobi Summit was a reality check, an opportunity to reflect and map the way forward.
“I realised that there are so many challenges, especially in Africa concerning SRHR,” Simon said. She also realised that Botswana has a lot of catching up to do to implement the commitments of the ICPD. “I also realised that issues including youth in power were left out.” Botho Mahlunge on the other hand comes back from the Summit with a conclusion that there are a lot of predicaments that young people find themseles in across the African continent including GBV and teenage pregnancy.
Programmes need to be intensified to ensure implementation. Mahlunge is also of the view that there is minimum youth engagement on issues that affet them the most. “Young people are tired of always convening about the same issues. It’s time to see the outcomes of Summits and Conferences,” Mahlunge said. She advised the youth to also be willing to engage when the oppotunity avails itself and to take up programmes that have been set to help them. Mahlunge said that failure to educate our young people on sexuality “is the reason so many girls are getting pregnant and infected with HIV.”
She said the continued exclusion of young people in rural areas from sexual and reproductive health and rights discussion is also to blame for the prevailing state of affairs. “Young people in rural areas are completely vulnerable. They are so far removed from the little information and services available to young people in urban areas,” Mahlunge observed.
Safe communities for our women and girls – Moalosi
Gender Based Violence (GBV) has been identified as one of the critical issues that impede women, girls and men from fully enjoying their human rights and unleashing their potential. Delivering his State of the National Address (SONA) on Monday, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the rising statistics of those affected.
The National Relationship Study of 2018 revealed that 37 percent of women and 21 percent of men have suffered some form of violence in their lifetime, which occurred within Intimate Partner Relationships.
To address this problem, President Masisi says government will intensify the implementation of the National Strategy Towards Ending GBV. The Strategy focuses on the comprehensive care and support of GBV survivors; the Prevention of new GBV incidences; Strengthening national capacity to address GBV; Improving efficiency and effectiveness of the coordination and management of the national GBV response; and Strategic information and knowledge management on GBV.
Just last week, Botswana Non-Governmental Organisations represented at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, committed to ensuring that all is done to end GBV.CEO of Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre, Lorato Moalosi who was presenting on behalf of Botswana NGOs said having reflected on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda since 1994 and on what has changed on Sexual GBV, they are equally disturbed by increasing levels of SGBV in Botswana communities.
Her desire is to empower communities to come up with their own solutions to end SGBV. Moalosi told participants at the Summit that NGOs in Botswana commit to contracting and ensuring robust community engagement, including starting indigenous and disability movements on SGBV to galvanise and mobilise communities to prevent and respond to SGBV. Their plan is to also develop sustained gender transformative programmes that mainstream HIV and GBV, as well as to expand reach and coverage of services and create community safe spaces for the hard to reach, as well as improve services in urban areas.
“We commit to utilising social contracting and ensure NGOs lead in the prevention of SGBV and in the response to ending SGBV at community level,” Moalosi said, adding that they also commit to mainstreaming gender equality conversations and break the silence on SGBV.
“We can no longer hold back. Our communities have to be safe for our women and girls,” she said. The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 that concluded hursday last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi represents a renewed, re-energised vision and community working together to act and deliver.
“Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results for women and girls, keeping their rights and choices at the centre of everything we do,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.
Denmark’s Special Envoy for the ICPD25, Ambassador Ib Petersen said there will be no ICPD50 because women and girls around the world have waited long enough to have rights and choices.