Freedom Comes With Responsibility #NoToXenophobia

These statues, mounted at the National Heritage Project’s offices yesterday couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

When our country is this volatile, it is important to reflect on where we come from…

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Cissie Gool and Abdullah Abdurrahman

Zainunnisa “Cissie” Gool was an anti-apartheid political and civil rights leader in South Africa. She was the daughter of prominent physician and politician Abdullah Abdurahman.

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According to the South African History Resource, Chief Langalibalele was “known as ‘Long Belly’ by Sir Garnet Wolesley, who could ‘never spell his infernal barbarian cognomen’. Langalibalele’s rebellion caused a crisis in Natal. It was described as ‘the most wonderful case of blunders for men past infancy to have made’ and strengthened Carnarvon’s case for confederation.”

Chief Langalibalele

Lest we forget what it took to attain our freedom; the liberties we enjoy today are indeed the culmination of collective efforts in and outside our national borders. Until we free ourselves from our mental chains and truly begin to see the world as a place that holds infinite possibilities through collaboration, then we will never be truly “free”.

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Seyantlo: For Better or Worse?

In between the entire hullabaloo that surrounded the so-called “Braai Day” and its shameless upstaging of National Heritage Day, I’d like to humbly give my two cents’ worth…then maybe we can call it a truce? Perhaps if we could all step back for a minute, find our inner selves; regroup and finally take one helluva deep breath we can sort out this whole sordid and completely fruitless exercise, yeah?

Let’s just be grateful that some of you have come out of Heritage Day particularly unscathed by the braai meat you had. On the other hand, perhaps we should congratulate those who boycotted the darn charcoal and pieces of meat- South Africans are quickly tipping the obesity scale. It ain’t pretty, people!

A recent conversation about the age old cross-cousin marriage tradition of the Batswana got me thinking hard about another, more controversial tradition. One cannot help but breathe a sigh of relief that some of us are fortunate enough not to have lived in periods and places that were (are) strict in the observation of such cultural practices.

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In Tabane, E. M.’s research report titled “Influences of Cultural Practices of the Batswana on the Transmission of HIV/AIDS in Botswana” he describes Seyantlo as a “common” practice where a widow is traditionally obliged to marry her brother-in-law and “therefore can only have sex with [him].” It is also stated that this can also occur with a widower. (2004: 189)

The rationale behind this is the same one that underpins many of our traditions. Any African will tell you how important maintaining lineage (tshika) is. This encompasses, primarily, considerations around the welfare of the children as well as the protection of the assets of the deceased. It is also about “keeping it in the family” as lobola doesn’t have to be paid twice for the same person. After doing some digging, I also discovered that in Seyantlo’s purest form, neither the widow nor her brother-in-law will be consulted on the matter. Instead, the families of the two will meet and have an agreement of their own and, in a show of respect for culture, the two people will oblige. My foot!

The first thing that comes to mind is what about love? Somehow the rationale that some people in arranged marriages provide about the possibility of learning to love someone in the course of the union somehow doesn’t make any logical sense to me. Secondly, how narcissistic is our culture sometimes? I say Seyantlo is a cruel joke. In some instances, the very thing that it seeks to promote –family bonds- is the very same thing that it disintegrates; could there be anything worse than being stuck in a loveless and awkward marriage?

The unintended consequences of this evident marriage of convenience include tension and obvious resentment. Extra-marital affairs are culturally sanctioned in any case, and in the event of this happening the (traditional) wife knows better than to ask questions.

I mean, if Thabo were seeing Ntombi and they had long-term plans that included marriage, would he be particularly chuffed that he has to warm his widowed sister-in-law’s bed and play happy family? How does that affect the very children this practice is intended to protect?

In this age, society views Seyantlo with equal scorn and appreciation. While some people say they would take comfort in their sibling stepping in to hold the fort, others view it as completely immoral-something they reckon would be entered into by someone who had already had their sights set on their sibling’s partner.

I do not know much, ke monnye mo dikganyeng, however I do know that it is a burden that I would never carry nor one I would expect my sister to either. I simply want to marry someone I love and that’s that.

With all its seemingly noble intentions, Seyantlo is nevertheless a narrow-minded practice. It ignores the basic tenet that mutual love and respect (neė compliance) are a crucial foundation of any relationship.

Children aren’t only raised on pap and vleis but on witnessing the love and respect being shared between their parents. It’s the only way they can learn self-respect and respect for others. Growing up within a house with someone with the same last name simply is no guarantee for the welfare of children.Shouldn’t we be thinking differently in an era where sexual, physical and emotional abuse emanates from familiar places as it does from strange ones?

 

Ke Motswana, wena?

Ga gona selo se se kileng sa ntlhabisa ditlhong jaaka go batlisisa mo interneteng gore September ka loleme lwa ga mme, loleme lwa me ke eng. Ka fa letsogong le lengwe ke ne ka ikutlwa ke le motlotlo gore bo-Google ba bo ba na le Setswana mo mananeong a bona a maleme. Mme gona go a swabisa gore ke ne ka ipona ke okometse ka fa technoliging go batla le lengwe la mareo a ka tshwanelo ke a itseng. Barutabana ba me botlhe ba ba nthutileng ba ka tloga ba mpotsa gore ruri ke wa ga mang ngwana-ke ya ke labile kae. Nnete fela ke gore ke feleditse go bitsa dikgwedi ka loleme lwa me ga ke ne ke le kwa sekolong.

Le fa go le jaalo, kgwedi e e fetileng ya Lwetse e ne ya beelwa thoko go nna ya keteko ya Ngwaoboswa. Ka sejatlhapi, we celebrated Heritage month. Ka maswabi, bangwe ba rona ga re a ke ra ipona re apere makgabe kana motoisa, e ka sa rona setso e leng moaparo oo tshwanetseng. Le fa go le jaalo motho o ne wa bona merafe e mengwe e kgabile, e kgatlhisa mo moaparong wa bona wa setso.

Ga ke itse gore a ke nna fela ke bonang se, mme kea tle ke bone rona BaTswana re sa itse fa re welang teng. O kare re latlhegile, re palelwa ke go ikgantsha mo go bonalang ka setso sa badimo ba rona. Mme o kile a umaka gore mo nakong  ya kgale ke rona BaTswana  re neng re sotla merafe e mengwe, re sa senye nako go bitsa ba bangwe maThosa kana maTebele. O ka gopola mokgwa o moporesidente wa metlheng wa Bophuthatsana Rre Lucas Mangope a neng a sa bone bo-Mandela ka sepe. Gongwe se se ne se dirwa ke gore Mangope e ne e le monwana le lenala le bao ba neng ba busa ka kgethololo mo malobeng. E ka tswe ene e le maemo go gogiwa ka nko ke basweu, re tla itse jaang ?

Sengwe se se santseng  se tshwenya mokwadi fa kgwedi ya Ngwaoboswa e setse e ile fifing, ke mokgwa o o tla fitlhelang re fetotse batho ba rona setshego fa ba sa bue sejatlhapi ka tsela  e rebonang e ‘siame’. Go a makatsa e le ruri go utlwa bath oba tshwaretse yo mongwe kwa sekhutlhwaneng, ba bua ka mokgwa o a buang “broken English”ka teng. Nyaa ruri, go a swabisa gonne gantsi fa basweu ba leka go bua maleme a rona, o tla bona batho ba kgatlhega-ba tshwara fale le fale.

Bothata ba rona batho bam mala o sebilo ke go tlhola re kgobana ka borona; re tseela setso sa rona kwa tlase mme re ntse re tshoiletsa tsa merafe e mengwe kwa godimo. Re sa lemoge gore re a iphetsa, re a inyatsa, e bile re tshwanetse ra swabisiwa ke seo. Re ka se gane gore loleme lwa sejatlhapi ga ntsi go dira lona kwa mafelong a mantsi fela re tshwanetse ra ipela ka se re leng sona, gore re itse go ka ruta bana ba rona go dira fela jaalo. E seng jaalo, lefatshe le tla ba tlhatsa, ba iphitlhela e se bag a mang.

Wa me molaetsa wa Heritage month ke gore, ikitse o kgone go iphapotsa mo monaganong wa gore o tshwanetse go nna se o seng sona go bonwa ke batho. Pula!