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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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BUSHIRI HELPED US

Yvonne Mooka

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The torment that Keloneilwe family in Goo Kodisa had been subjected to for over a year is now a thing of the past.This is thanks to the intervention of Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, if what Kgosi Moalakwena Keloneilwe says is anything to go by.

He told The Midweek Sun that he went to see Prophet Shepherd Bushiri in Pretoria on April 12 and was told by Major One, as Bushiri is known, that all is well. “When I arrived at his church, I met him and showed him The Midweek Sun article about the incident and he laid hands on it and said ‘It is done.’ “He didn’t say much,” said Keloneilwe. He said that the Enlightened Christian Gathering leader also gave him anointing oil.

“He also preached that when we pray in tongues, the anointing oil changes into the Holy Spirit and that it can do anything that we ask it to do. “He warned that if we don’t use it properly, it can be dangerous. But again, the prophet taught us that anybody can perform miracles,” said the tribal leader, who is also a cousin to the family that was tormented by the evil creature.

Kgosi Keloneilwe said that he was speechless when he arrived back home to find that government through social workers had instructed that the family move to Moshupa into a Village Development Committee house. “That same Monday, they moved to Moshupa which makes sense concerning what the prophet was saying that it is done.

The children have even gone back to school,” he said. He said that he did not tell his cousins that he was going to see Bushiri and only told them when he came back. The family has been tormented by an unknown creature, believed to appear in the form of a snake, a monkey the next minute and also a dirty doll.

In a previous interview with this reporter, the headman revealed that the children had been away from school for a year because the creature has torn their school uniforms into pieces. He also said that efforts to take them to school were made difficult by the fact that the creature throws stones at any car that takes them to school. It was also said that it threw stones at the children and slapped them if they dared go to school.

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World telecoms day commemoration in Sefhare

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President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi will join the ministry of transport and communications to commemorate the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (WTISD) in Sefhare this coming Friday.

The event will be held at Sefhare Primary School grounds starting at 0900hrs. This year the commemorations will be celebrated under the theme ‘Bridging the Standardization gap’. Bridging the Standardization gap is one of the strategic goals of the International and Communication Union’s (ITU) standardisation sector. The purpose of WTISD is help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of internet and other Information and Communication Technologies (ITCs) can bring to societies and economies as well as ways to bridge the digital divide.

The day marks the founding of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).On the 17th May 1865 when the first International telegraph Convention was signed in Paris. This year we celebrate 50th Anniversary of World Telecommunications and Information Society Day which has been celebrated annually since 1969.

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