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Communal duties have become a thing of the past

Matshediso Fologang

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Our society has moved on and has adopted all western values. Or is it a situation where we have partly remained traditional and partly a confused society? What has happened to our traditional communal character? We have become so westernised that we are no longer bothered by anything happening away from our immediate families.

This past two weeks I witnessed activities that left me outright confused. I still have no right explanation for these. In the villages where I grew up, social cohesion amongst the people was part of our being. People shared all the emerging chores and duties. This was more pronounced particularly in times of bereavement and weddings where the whole family clan and the village had a role to play. These roles and duties included sharing the costs of funerals and weddings, and this included each member of the family, clan and to some extent the whole village. In case of death, once such was announced, the entire village would gather at the homestead of the family of the departed.

This was during the days when we had no mortuaries in our villages, and the funeral would take place immediately. As part of the obligation, relatives and clan members would bring grain and other food stuffs to cater for those who would be engaged in different chores at the bereaved family home. This same response was also extended to weddings as the family would contribute towards the feast.

In each of these two ceremonies, it was a given that all family members and the clan were duty bound to somehow assist. For the bereaved, these duties included grave digging, providing firewood, and preparation of the homestead and all the foodstuffs. Both funerals and weddings were not expensive and families never had to worry about the financial strains endured in the modern era.
But now things have changed, and with our society becoming part of the so-called global village, we are witnessing a complete change in the involvement of people and relatives.

In the days where there were no mortuaries as indicated earlier, the expenses related to death were generally minimal. With the introduction of the service, funerals have become highly costly. It is not cheap to keep a corpse in the mortuary and the cost of coffins/caskets are just high. What is even more costly is the catering during the time leading to the actual funeral. I hear Kgosi Kgari III of Bakwena once tried to put control over this. The expenses are normally the responsibility of the immediate family members.

It is sad that all expectations are that one family must outclass another, and this doesn’t come cheap. What is even becoming emotionally burdensome is that even the insurance industries have joined in the fray with somewhat curious funeral covers that enhance the competition. We have actually been drawn into the business of thinking of death and not old age safety networks. People would rather take a funeral cover than a health plan. Traditional burial societies that were started by tribesman and women at the height of the migrant labour system away from home have also died a slow death.

The said communal responsibilities have become a thing of the past and the extended family and village moral fibre is dead. We have reached a level where we even don’t attend funerals that are supposedly not well-endowed (maso a sa nonang).Ceremonies have become the responsibility of the affected families while the rest wait at a distance for the final day where there is attendant food. We have copied the ways of the west but we are not doing it right, but we have also abandoned our own ways. So, in essence, we are a confused lot. We are neither traditional nor a western people. We are just a confused and lost lot!

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God hates divorce but He hates abuse more

Yvonne Mooka

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‘I have never recommended or prescribed divorce. How could I as a minister of the Gospel? The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce. I have on more than one occasion counseled and aided women in leaving an abusive husband. – Paige Patterson, Southern Baptist Church

There is more to the scriptural picture behind ‘I hate divorce.’ I grew up as a Baptist, actually a member of Berean Baptist Church in Kanye. Although I respect Dr. Patterson’s right to disagree, I doubt that this is the presiding opinion among all Baptist pastors. Patterson’s refusal to acknowledge abuse as a legitimate breach of the marriage covenant convinces a battered wife to stay in an abusive home. Domestic abuse is cyclical. Even when pastors, counselors, and victim’s advocates intentionally intervene, abused women often find the fear of isolation, financial struggle, single parenting, violent retribution, and a host of other factors to be a hill too steep to climb. They feel all alone, rejected and lose themselves in the process.

Women and children are being oppressed by their husbands and fathers. According to the Gender-based violence indicator study conducted in 2012, more than 67 in every 100 women in Botswana have experienced some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime. A high proportion of men (44 percent) admitted to perpetrating violence against women. Nearly one third (29 percent) experienced Intimate Partner Violence in the 12 months to the prevalence survey that formed the flagship research in this study. In contrast, only 1.2 percent of Batswana women reported cases of gender-based violence to the police in the same period.

As we embark on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls, allow me to challenge a popular Scripture often used by church leaders. Malachi 2:16a—“‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel …” This is true because it is what God is saying. However, from my reporting, hardly a week passes by without a case of abuse against women and girls. Rape. Murder. Domestic violence. Abuse is ugly. And sadly, it happens to women even in the church. This includes pastors’ wives. I have had the privilege of interviewing some sheltered at one of the centres in Botswana. These are women who were told ‘God hates divorce.’ Some are not necessarily bommamoruti but ordinary Christian women married to Christian men.

The guy is prayerful at church but a monster at home. His wife and children fear him, yet he shakes ceilings and moves mountains with his prayers at church. His wife is a punching bag. The church leadership is aware but she is hopeless and helpless because ‘God hates divorce.’ The same God who hates divorce also strongly hates abuse. Abuse is when a marriage crosses the line from relationship to enslavement. Marriage is meant to reflect Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32). However, when the picture begins to look like Pharaoh and the Israelites, there is a serious problem. A woman beaten, verbally assaulted, cut off from friends, and/or financially isolated is no longer a wife but a slave.

The defining act of the Old Testament is the Exodus: a deliverance from oppression. The fearful plagues that befell Egypt were in direct response to the ruthless enslavement Pharaoh inflicted on the people of Israel (Ex. 1:13). We even see the hardhearted cycle of abuse as Pharaoh feels remorse and promises reform, only to tighten his grip. Ultimately, God crushed Pharaoh and his army between the walls of his judgment. If abusers want to know how God feels about them, they need only look at Pharaoh’s fate. Let’s discuss this further next week.

I am praying for you that your faith will not fail.
Facebook/Instagram: Yvonne Tshepang Mooka
Twitter: @yvonnemooka
Email: yvonnequeen2003@gmail.com

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Eating “stoko” in the name of Jesus

Keletso Thobega

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We have all heard wild stories of pastors who are apparently “chowing” female congregants like cows enjoying cud. These supposed pastors, some who are married, are practising adultery, infidelity and promiscuity in the name of the Lord.

How do you stand in front of people and preach the word of God when you yourself are tainted? But it turns out that some of us have been in the dark. All this stuff about fornication and sexual molestation conducted by “men of God” is not news. Apparently these “men of God” have been having extra marital and illicit affairs in the house of the Lord for quite a while. We have heard about some priests scandals relating to rape, homosexual acts and other forms of violation. Some of these relations are allegedly even consensual. They are enjoying the forbidden fruit with careless abandon.

I now understand why so many young men are tripping over themselves to be pastors. Kana macheri a mangwe fa ba ka re ‘a God fearing man’ ga o ka ke wa ba re sepe. Ba ba tshwarela gone hoo!
I also always thought that some of these young women who go to church dressed to the nines in sometimes provocative outfits are just moving with the times but I understand that some are there to hunt for men. Others even flirt with and throw themselves at pastors and other men of God. It can be tempting when a woman is begging to be had. It is like a piece of marinated and braaied chicken being placed before you. How can you say ‘no’? My dear reader, the crotch has no conscience.

Temptation of the flesh is truly man’s biggest downfall. There are women who throw themselves at men who they believe are powerful, rich or handsome. Gatwe ba dira ‘tsaa o utlwe.’ Sadly, some of these women seemingly use the wrong methods to get what they want and when things don’t go their way, they then cry foul. With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that some men are uncomfortable with their girlfriends or wives spending too much time at church or with pastors. The suspicions and insecurities are well placed. There are men out there who have broken up happy homes under the pretext of “helping” women in the congregation, promising them all sorts of enticing spiritual and material rewards. And who can trust a woman who seemingly loves a man of God more than her husband? She abandons domestic duties and servicing conjugal rights to go and shout: “Go deeper man of God!”

I recall a few years ago, a particular pastor from one of these fly by night churches sent word out that he wanted to meet me. I have a church I was raised in where I was baptised and confirmed, which I remain loyal to. If I have problems, I will take them to my priests there.

I just did not understand what this pastor wanted. Gape batho ba e ka re dingaka tsa Setswana, ba ka go okeletsa stress ka dikgang tse di deep. I admit that I might have read too much into it. After all, it is not every pastor who is deceitful and corrupt; there are many good pastors out there. But I have heard enough stories about women who are molested by or coerced into sexual relations with pastors. Gatwe man of God o tla bo a baa letsogo mo tlhogong a go rapella, le lengwe letsogo a le bintsha bintsha mo seropeng. Tlhe bathun’ kgalemelang bo Daddy ba ba corrupt ba tla hetsa bana. Itjakg!

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