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Batswana’s sorry lives

Keletso Thobega

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For scores of Batswana, life is a mundane routine of trying to make ends meet. An economist once indicated that many Batswana are a meal away from poverty.

In fact the 2016/17 report of Botswana Statistics indicates that most Batswana in urban areas live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, unemployment among youth stands at 23%. The report also indicates that a great number of Batswana earn on average of P4000 while a lot more still live in one-room dwellings. The gap between the poor and the rich is ever widening and incomes are not enough to cover the high cost of living while prospects are few and wide apart.

Thabiso Makatse came to Gaborone in search of greener pastures but has been disappointed. “After two years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs, I decided to move to Gabs from my home village. I did odd jobs – from store cashier to petrol attendant. I also dabbled in entrepreneurship, selling car parts and clothes.”

Faced with taking care of his younger siblings, parents and child, he had to try everything to make ends meet and he is still riding that boat. Makatse says that the stress of being anxious about an income and being unemployed with nothing stable in the horizon had a negative effect on him. “In the world we live in, you only make sense when you have money. Even in relationships it is difficult because women don’t like broke men who cannot take them out or give them money. It can be stressful when a woman expects money for nails, hair or clothes while you are worried about where your next meal will come from.”

Depression brought on by socio-economic stress is widespread in the country. A source at the Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital in Lobatse says that in the past decade, the hospital has registered a higher number of patients, most of who come with stresses related to money, work and other issues affecting their socio-economic status. “Issues such as retrenchment, debt and bad financial decisions in business can land one on their back. We see more people struggling to keep in the socio-economic landscape, and it affects their psychological well-being and brings on mental illness brought on by compounded stress.”

Psychologist Thelma Tlhaselo-Majela concedes that unemployment or inability to generate an income can have a negative effect on individuals. “The most significant is the realisation that one may have all it takes to find a job including wishes and desires to do so nonetheless are unable to work because of circumstances beyond their control. In some instances, the situation may push one to opt for jobs that are far below one’s qualifications thus compromising potential and inner capacity simply because they want to be engaged.

When one realises that they cannot get meaningfully engaged, this may provoke residual effects because employment has some invaluable benefits in balancing the equilibrium for quality life.” She further says that it is crucial to recognise that gainful and fulfilling employment contributes to shaping the foundational state of the socio-psychological and economic well-being at individual, familial and national level.

“It is in our work, job or occupation that we willingly spend long hours of our time and this grounds structural patterns for daily routine hence people deriving corresponding fulfilment for purpose and existence. The disruption of this patterned routine has potential to throw one in a state of chaos and disorientation especially if one is not well-prepared to adjust and handle the situation well.”

Majela explains that when these stressors set on, no matter the existing savings, the financial resources are bound to witness a gradual decline and depletion. The struggle begins in meeting basic needs while lifestyle orientation demands corresponding alterations. The key indicator in the family lifestyle change often impacts on children because some may not fully comprehend what is going on. Lifestyle reorientation may demand moving from large to smaller houses, private to public schools, smaller cost effective cars, humble meals and clothing and these new dynamics may shake the familial structure into diverse difficulties and conflicts.”

Majela explains that our occupations and work spaces constitute the inseparable nature of our psychological identities due to the intra-inter-personal development that happens especially if one loves and enjoys what they do.

“The psychological identity connects with the socialisation processes where we received messages, positive or negative, early in life from people around us. In our daily social activities, the purpose and meaning of life is then shaped by and through the communication we internalise through our social space.” She further points out that being ‘judged’ can worsen the situation in people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

“Anyone who receives verbal and non-verbal communication that undermines their inner worth contributes to the onset of anxiety and depression. The psychological state of rejection, discouragement, coupled with deterioration in hope, pride and self-esteem impacts on mental well-being.” Majela points out that a deep sense of depression expressed through hopelessness and helplessness can throw one into psychological damage expressed through self-harming behavioural patterns such as self-cutting, hair pulling, addiction to alcohol and drugs, sexual and eating disorders to mention just a few. “The loss of employment on the other hand provokes psychological pain leading to grief and bereavement, which can be just as real and actual as loss of death of a loved one.”

She adds that it is not uncommon for people to begin to experience mental health issues because often their thought patterns may become irrational and distorted and may dig into suicidal ideation.
Majela suggests several ways that people with depression related to their socio-economic situation can be assisted that include acceptance of situation. “When people are thrown into chaotic states of life, they unconsciously engage psychological defence mechanisms which often work on short term basis and can be detrimental when applied on long term basis.

These defence mechanisms include denial, repression, reaction formation and intellectualization. The quick psychological acceptance helps to propel one to shift into being open to seeking, receiving and committing to the necessary and available intervention support.” She also recommends seeking counselling and psycho-social support. Majela also suggests transformational thinking with cognitive reordering.

“Any new life orientation bringing change in our lives tends to provoke discomfort and often people are tempted to resist the change. It is necessary for people to challenge their thinking patterns by redirecting, refocusing and re-establishing new ways of processing information. Transformational thinking influences us in relooking at situations sometimes with the ability to let go and forgive which requires a new mindset in looking at situations of life,” she said. She also recommends regular physical exercise, journaling, and spiritual connection.

Majela notes that a stress free life may not be a reality hence it is necessary to have a proactive, systemic and holistic approach to managing socio-economic landscape and its associated challenges to reduce the bumpy impact of life stressors.

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BDP to crack whip on dissidents

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Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is poised to crack the whip on members that attended last month’s “illegal” Serowe meeting that was allegedly called by the Central Region party elders.

The meeting was to discuss what transpired during the regional congress where President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi was endorsed as the preferred candidate to lead the party against the recommended name of Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

The party has since scheduled disciplinary hearings for the affected members following a complaint letter from Steady Sethaba – Chairman of Serowe West Branch dated March 1st 2019.
About 28 people have been listed in the complaint letter as some of the attendants. Dr Khama and Dr Venson-Moitoi have not been listed in the complaint letter, although they were present as well as Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma who is also vying for the party’s Secretary General position.

BDP National Disciplinary Committee Vice Chairman Yame Tshepo Kebabonye has since written to the affected BDP members that the hearings are scheduled for the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19 of April 2019 in the morning at party head office. Through the letter dated 6th March 2019 Kebabonye has called on those appearing to have availed their statements of defence within 14 days of receipt of the summons. In the complaint letter Sethaba had indicated that the meeting was in violation of the party constitution because it was not called by an established organ of the party.

“The speakers also deliberately misled and incited the meeting attendants by speaking in a way that was aimed at leaving them believing that the regional congress led the delegates to do what was unconstitutional. “Of late there has been an emergence of unruly behaviour by some members of Serowe constituencies which necessitate for appropriate remedial action before it gets out of control,” Sethaba said in the complaint letter.

The Serowe “illegal”meeting was held on the 24th of February 2019 and was attended by among others former President Dr Ian Khama, Dr Venson-Moitoi, Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma and Roseline Panzirah-Matshome who is vying for Deputy Secretary General post ahead of the party’s elective congress in July this year. Also, in attendance were most of Central District BDP councillors. Following this meeting party Secretary General Mpho Balopi revealed that disciplinary action would be taken against those members who attended the ‘illegal meeting.’

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I BUY NO POWERS

Yvonne Mooka

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Many will remember Apostle Joel Keitumele as Ntsoro the comedian who would leave people in stitches with his rib-cracking jokes.

Now an apostle who leads Heavenly International Soul church with his wife Amo Keitumele, he confided in The Midweek Sun that he has never bought powers to make himself and his church powerful as it is often alleged by members of the public.

Two years ago, there were allegations that he had lost his mind after he failed to honour an agreement with a seller of powers in Ghana. “They were saying I was mentally disturbed and that I was being tormented by a snake because I dishonoured an agreement from a seller of powers in Ghana. I have never been to Ghana and the rumours were baseless,” he said, adding that someone even lied that his aunt works at Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital and had seen Keitumele at the hospital.

He also recalled the time he was invited at Btv with now born again Shumba Ratshega. He was wearing two rings. “One was my wedding ring and the other on my right hand was a Versace. A caller asked why I was wearing the other one and there were talks that it’s for powers.” He said he took it off and gave it to the presenter to wear and that nothing happened to him.

Lately, there are allegations that he wears an eagle belt, known in street lingo as ‘Prophetic belt’and purpoted to have powers to increase miracles in church and to attract more people. It is won by several other pastors and prophets among them, Shepherd Bushiri, Alph Lukau, Passion Java and Eubert Angel. He confirmed that he has it. He however said there is nothing like a prophetic belt or prophetic shoes.

“Of recent, God released a cloud of young prophets and these like their older mentors or spiritual fathers are stylish and they like fashion. “We have tapped into that. So most of us have Versace shoes, Eagle belts because we like looking good. People refer to them as ‘Prophetic this and that’ but there is nothing prophetic about them.

It’s just that we like them but we don’t need them for powers,” he said. Keitumele confirmed that he sells the trending shoes and belts at his store in Gaborone. “We just like our belts. Nothing more. The power is in the price. Monna ke monna ka setlhako le lebante,” he said.

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