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Is it witchcraft or other non-related health conditions

Matshediso Fologang

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This weekend I went to spend the weekend with my cousins at my maternal ancestral masimo. As we always did we sat over a calabash of traditional brew. In the ensuing discussion we raise the issue of witchcraft and the general belief amongst our people.

When we grew up we knew that all female adults were witches. Witchcraft activities were nocturnal and as such all old women in our neighbourhood were to us practicing witches. I carefully listened to stories that we reminisced about and I started wondering if really the stories of these elderly ladies being witches were true? I just wondered why it was just women who were prominently practicing witchcraft. If there were men ever identified as wizards such number was very insignificant. I wonder if this wasn’t also influenced by the patriarchal nature of our traditional society. Our society has and remains biased against women. Why should all the bad cultural traits and social ills be attributed to our mothers?

What is even interesting was that while the general understanding was that old ladies and grandmothers were witches, none of us the youth ever believed his/her mother or granny was a practicing witch. As I sat here amongst my cousin I again in deep thought began to question the practice of witchcraft, if really older women could risk nocturnal risks to visit other homesteads to “lowa”.

Were these just innocent people sleepwalking? I am still to be convinced that these elderly women didn’t suffer from sleep disorder and suffered what is called parasomnia. According to Wikipeadia this is “a category of sleep disorder that involve abnormal movements, behavior, emotions, perceptions and dreams that occur while falling asleep”. According to the Arlington, Virginia (US) based National Sleep Foundation, sleepwalking, formally known as somnambulism, is a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while asleep.

“Sleep walking sufferers may simply sit up in bed, walk around the house, or even leave the house” and in some extreme cases try to drive or partake in other activities that could endanger their lives. It is clear that sleepwalker’s eyes in the process would be open though not necessarily that the things they see appear similar to when they are awake. Studies reveal that they are inclined to think they are in a different environment.

A study reviewed by the Foundation’s Mark Maholwald show that sleepwalkers tend to go back to bed on their own and “they don’t remember what happened in the morning”. As I listened to my age-mate cousins vehemently argue that there were witches when we grew up, I have this mind boggling desperate thinking. Were these so-called witches not sleepwalkers? At the time we grew up our medical system was still rudimentary such that other deadly conditions like dementia and /or Alzheimer’s were generally not known amongst us. I sat there disturbed and worried that may be all the old women were innocent sleepwalker and could have been falsely or wrongly accused of some art they were never exposed to.

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Bureaucracy impedes youth empowerment – Tshekedi

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama said government’s bureaucracy hinders youth participation in economic development.

Speaking during the Youth Awards on Saturday, Khama explained that the society has adopted the word bureaucracy and they live with it. “This word has contradicting terms with the way the youth think, this confirms the space between the youth and how we deliver. The honour is on us to deliver an enabling environment, we talk so much, we have had discussions in pitsos,”

He pointed out that, financial institutions have difficult regulations that hinder youth to access funding for their respective businesses. “When a youth approaches a financial institution, the first question would be where is your pay slip?, secondly, what security do you have? And they will say it’s bank regulations. We live in the bureaucracies of these regulations and it has become our DNA,” said Khama.

Over the years, government has introduced programmes that promote youth entrepreneurship, which include financing, capacity building, market access and marketing an outreach. Currently, the ministry is reviewing the Youth Development Fund to improve training of beneficiaries and encourage consortia and cooperatives.

Recently, when presenting the budget for the Ministry, Khama highlighted that the youth cohort constitutes the majority of the population and this is supposed to present the country with an opportunity to harness the demographic dividend. “Their energy, educational level and technology skills should be exploited to propel our country forward,” he said.

He also indicated that the youth is faced with socio-economic challenges including unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. “Therefore we must intervene to give them the best possible opportunities to achieve their dreams and help our country realize the ideals of vision 2036.”

Meanwhile, government disburses P120 million yearly as funding to youth enterprises and about 919 businesses have been funded in the last financial year. The youth have raised a lot of challenges in doing business, including high rentals for operating space, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities.

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Have a clear succession plan for peaceful transition

Matshediso Fologang

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How have we as a people treated succession? Though in our society succession has always been determined along patriarchal lineage, traditional leadership succession has not always been smooth.

There are known stories where families broke up in a battle for succession. Immediately in my mind comes the last split of the Ba-ga-Malete in 1892. The succession was based on the bravery and not on the strength being the first born child. Throughout Botswana many merafe have a history of succession that didn’t follow the rigidity of patriarchy.

Batswana as a people believe that talk is far better than war. Ntwakgolo ke ya molomo. We are a people who would spend a whole lot of time openly discussing a matter before a decision could be reached. Discussions on any matter put before a gathering of family, clan and morafe was never finalised without thorough discussion. All present regardless of their economic strength participated fully without hindrance. Decisions thereat were reached through consensus. Traditional leaders would skilfully announce the collective decision arrived at.

The good thing about this method of allowing all to participate – Mafoko a kgotla mantle otlhe and the Mmualebe bua gore monalentle a tswe lagwe – was basically premised on the principle of what our current crop of men and women who have read big books would call “participatory democracy.” Democracy therefore has never been an imported phenomenon amongst Batswana. Democracy has always been in our DNA. Regarding succession therefore it has always been based on the consensus of the majority.

The leader though selected among the royal family, his character also played an important role in determining his suitability. As we embraced western type democracy we have in our different political homes defined our succession plans. As a nation we have defined our processes of succession. In the age and era where, unlike in our tradition, we have written these, we do not therefore rely on memories. Our forebears relied on memories and nothing was ever in black and white.

However, our forebears knew succession if not properly handled could bring strife and instability amongst morafe. We were then not part of a collective of nations and therefore what transpired in our little morafe did not necessarily impact our relations with other merafe that much. If not handled well it could create a loophole for other merafe to wage a war against the morafe .

If any such person who had been overlooked for whatever reason felt strongly about such decision, he would either remain part of the morafe as a junior leader or migrate with his supporters. Peace would prevail. Even those who had held fort for their younger siblings would want to hand over a united morafe to his successor.

In modern society, a predecessor takes pride in the performance of his choice of successor. Travelling through history one envies the succession of Kgosi Ketshwerebothata Ikaneng and Mokgosi III and that of Kgosi Mmusi and Linchwe II. Such were Batswana leaders who worked together for the better interest of the merafe they led. What now and whither peace and love for the downtrodden?

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