Kaone Mmereki* was in her late twenties when she met her husband at a music festival. He had all the makings of an ideal 21st century man to fall for: kind, intelligent, wealthy and caring. She fell in love with him quickly and felt he was the one for her when she saw how much he loved her two daughters from a previous relationship. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, Mmereki stated how she overlooked some red flags before their wedding seven years ago. “He abused alcohol and took offense when I complained.
He told me it was his money and not mine, yet when I asked for money to do my hair, he would drag,” she said. Nonetheless, she went ahead and married him. She would later fall pregnant, and had twins, and this is when her husband now became openly abusive. “He called me fat, complained about my stretch-marks and said he was no longer feeling me sexually. He said I had got too big down there,” she said, adding that he also started sleeping outside home. During their marriage, he regularly abused her. And here is the kicker: She did not know he was doing it.
Because no hitting was involved, she simply did not have a name for the behaviour that made her feel diseased in his presence: the subtle put-downs, the physical avoidance and the mocking. Experts do, though. They call it emotional abuse, and it is as widespread in romantic relationships as it is misunderstood. In the simplest terms, emotional abuse is behaviour and language designed to degrade or humiliate someone by attacking their self-value or personality. While a normal couple may disagree about how to spend money, for example, an emotional abuser will make his partner feel as though she is too stupid to understand the intricacies of finances. It can range from verbal abuse — yelling, blaming, shaming, and name-calling — to isolation, intimidation, and threats. It also commonly shows up as stonewalling and dismissing, behaviours that make victims feel alone and unimportant.
University of Botswana graduate Matildah Montsho says the emotional abuser gets a feeling of achievement. “It’s either he is insecure or downright weak. Men who generally abuse women, especially women, have something to hide. Sometimes they had it tough growing up without someone to look up to and therefore lacked guidance,” she says, adding that a man who swears at a woman is a weak man. From Women’s Shelter Women are emotionally abused in their relationships, according to Kagisano Women’s Shelter director Lorato Moalosi.
The highest numbers of women they accommodate are those that have been made to feel worthless by their partners, married or single. These, she says, include, being an absent partner or father, use of harsh words, being threatened to be dumped or divorced or even killed. “Being told you are nothing, or when he doesn’t take care of you and/or the children, being called a useless bitch are just examples of what our clients go through,” she says. However, Moalosi does not dispute the fact that men also get abused but she says women experience it a lot more, and even daily. A 2010 situational analysis on Gender Based Violence in Botswana shows that more than half of women are forced to have sex without protection. Half of the women in the country have experienced GBV and are more likely to be infected with HIV.
Twenty-three percent of pregnant women experience violence during pregnancy. Experts say that its effects can be devastating: depression, anxiety, and destroyed self-esteem. “It’s very erosive,” says Marti Loring, Ph.D., author of Emotional Abuse. “Whether it’s overt or covert, the abuse negates a woman’s very being.” Kenanao Mmusi, 30, had a boyfriend who would accuse her of being promiscuous for having dated one man he knew. He would even discredit her ex-boyfriend and call him ‘useless.’ “When any family members or friends called her, he said they were stealing time from him, even though they were living together”. Psychology graduate Montsho says that women should always look out for warning signs that include blaming, a sense of entitlement, jealousy and a feeling of dominance. *Kaone Mmereki is not the interviewee’s real name
Kgosi Bokamoso Radipitse of Bakhurutshe ba Tonota got married to Mohumagadi Koontse nee Batsweleng of the same village in a colourful ceremony befitting royalty on Saturday in Tonota. The special occasion was held at the spacious main Tonota Kgotla, which boasts two permanent all-weather shelters fitted with public address system, chairs and free WI-Fi.
As with his installation two years ago, the wedding once again united the tribe as all members participated. Most impressive was the active involvement of the elegantly dressed Bazezuru women who formed part of the ushering team.
The royal couple arrived at the main Tonota Kgotla riding on a white chariot pulled by a horse. This was after parading in the main streets of the village for the villagers who could not make it to the main Kgotla. The chariot was escorted by a convoy of Honda Fit vehicles mostly owned by members of the Tonota Taxi Association and well wishers led by area MP and Minister of Tertiary Education, Thapelo Olopeng. There was also a convoy of V-8 engine Land- Rovers.
Mohumagadi Koontse is the daughter of Mme Kerotse Batsweleng in Mmandunyane. Batsweleng was born in Kanye at Ruele ward. The couple first met in 2011 during the population census where the Kgosi was absolutely smitten by the gorgeous damsel. The couple is blessed with two sons, Theriso and Seabo. Mohumagadi Koontse is still employed by government as a teacher at Makolojwane in Serowe.
The guest list included Magosi of different tribes amongst them Bamangwato regent, Sediegeng Kgamane, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele of Bahurutshe ba Manyana, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo, Ministers Olopeng and Kgotla Autlweetse. Although Kgosi Radipitse is a fully fledged Kgosi, he has however not been draped with a leopard skin in line with the custom.
The simple reason is that his father, Kgosi Ramosinyi who retired, is still alive. Tonota chieftainship succession is clearly defined. No one has ever challenged the lineage.
FROM GRASS TO GRACE
On March 2, Katso Kaone Tlhobogang decided to go to a Red Tie gala dinner at Boatle, only to be ridiculed by social media users for her outfit a few days later.The 22 year-old Ramotswa woman had opted for a vintage look, with a loose peach skirt and green blouse that set tongues wagging.
When The Midweek Sun visited her, she explained the incident. “I hate tight clothes. I love colour blocking and I love pleated skirts. Before the event, I went to a store in Gaborone and honestly, when I saw the skirt, I felt it was long and big. The shop assistant however wanted me to buy it. I left and tried other stores but there was nothing for me. So I went back for the peach skirt and I remembered I had a green blouse to match it, so I bought it,” she says.
At home, her aunt Caroline Molefi-Jamieson asked her how she was going to dance wearing such a long skirt but she was having none of it. The aunt tells The Midweek Sun: “She actually danced for me in the skirt and she was feeling so free and happy.” Tlhobogang says that when she arrived at the event, people gave her some funny stares, something she says indicated to her immediately that her outfit was out of place. She however says she cared less and went ahead and danced. The event had a red-carpet and an official photographer and Tlhobogang did not hesitate to have her pictures taken as well.
“The photographer called me and I enjoyed the moment as I posed like crazy! Like Tyra Banks and them!” says the model, who is also a Certificate in Banking and Finance holder. She is currently assisting her aunt with running her pre-school. According to her aunt, last Thursday they had taken their pupils to Lion Park for recreational activities when she found 64 missed calls on her phone. Tlhobogang had left her phone at home. She says that when they got back to school around 4pm, Tlhobogang’s cousin called her saying people were ridiculing her on Facebook over her outfit. “I kept quiet and did not tell her anything. When the rest of the staff was gone, I then told her that her cousin was saying she was trending on Facebook.
But she took it lightly till we got home when she got hold of her phone and checked Facebook,” she says. She reveals that on that day, her niece could not eat and was weak. Her face was swollen, she says. “I even moved from my bedroom to hers because I was afraid she was suicidal. I had to force her to eat by taking her to Nandos the following night around 10,” she says.
Tlhobogang admits she was angry and sad. She states that out of 156 pictures shared from the event, hers was mocked because she was not wearing a skimpy outfit that exposes breasts and butts like other women. “They probably thought I didn’t qualify for the event. That I was a misfit,” she says. Next to her, Phenyo Molefi, her cousin, shared that he too had been taken aback by the Facebook posts. “Actually, on Thursday, I saw the pictures before she and her mom could, and I kept quiet but I was fuming.
If I had the means, I would have gone and dealt with everyone who insulted her. I spent the whole day sleeping because I couldn’t handle it,” he says. As fate would have it, the people that attacked and ridiculed Tlhobogang now have to eat humble pie as she is receiving love from all over the world – not just locally. People are calling her to give her vouchers for clothes. Others are simply sending her messages asking for her shoe size and clothing size.
She has received an offer to go to Turkey by a local minister’s wife for a shopping spree. Others have offered to take her to Johannesburg, Okavango Deltas, among others. “I have close to 80 clothing offers from people calling from locally, outside and countries such as China and Morocco. My tears have turned into joy. It’s so unbelievable how it has worked out to my favour,” she says.
Tomorrow (Thursday), a local designer Theo Bree Khumo is hosting a re-makeover session for her at Grand Palm. “I’ll be wearing the same skirt but she says they are going to change it here and there. Other ladies will come wearing a similar skirt but in flair designs,” she says.
FROM GRASS TO GRACE
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