Can the Past Heal the Present? [opinion]

| June 5, 2015

What can modern society learn from the past? Can the past constitute a key part of modern society and how can it be infused in a post-modern society without upsetting the jigsaw that is today’s generations?

Ask Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele of Manyana about polygamy and he will tell you that if it has worked in the past it can work today. A g proponent of rarely heard polygamous families, he contends such can, to large extent, avert today’s social ills.

“In customary law polygamy is legal, it only requires us to formalise it. We know that in the past polygamy was a part of our culture and we rarely heard of such things as divorce, abortion, drug abuse, HIVAIDS and many other social ills happening today, polygamy can be the answer to these problems,” he says.

He says given the nature of the position he occupies as Senior Chiefs Representative in the area, his office is inundated with cases of divorce.

“In a month we can hear about three or four cases of divorce. A woman can testify that, rre yo ke lemogile gore o na le dinyatsi, o tlhokomologile lelwapa a nna kwa nyatsing, ga a sa tlhole a tlhokomela lelwapa ,” reasoning that “mme fa a ka bo a nyetse nyatsi e go ne go ka nna botoka,” he adds.

He attributes the death of polygamy to Western culture which he says eroded Batswana’s cultures in the 1800s.

“Re e tlogedisitswe ke di missionary bo Dr David Livingstone, Dr Robert Moffatt ba ba neng ba re convert to Christianity. Ba re tlogedisitse bogwera le bojale.

They convinced us to do away with our culture ba re ga e a siama. Maxhosa le Mazulu bone ba santse ba tshegeditse ngwao ya bone,” says Kgosi Mosielele.

He says in the past polygamy had its own aantages for the reason women who had no partners could be married under polygamy and their children had chance to have a father figure unlike today where there are single headed households which breeds other problems.

The traditional leader posits that in the past the family unit was g on account of solid extended family ties and the polygamous marriage was done after reaching agreement with the elder wife.

“However, not every man could marry but only those who were in a befitting economic standing were permitted to go into polygamous marriages.

“Gompieno go na le mathata Banna ba nna le dinyatsi tse dintsi mme gatwe re kgaole chain, o ya go kgaola chain jang mo lefifing?” he asks.

On the contrary, Emang Basadi project officer, Segametsi Modisaotsile, says “we cannot reverse things now. Polygamy belongs in the past, and it is natural that culture should change for better.

We should embrace change. Who said if we introduce polygamy this prevalent infidelity of small houses will stop, even these married women are still being asked out although they are in marriage,” she says.

Modisaotsile says polygamy is a controversial issue which must be carefully treaded upon reasoning that times have changed and the world is moving forward.

She says should one partner contract HIV in a polygamous home this can reverse the gains Botswana made on HIVAIDS and erode the polygamous family’s economy and ultimately the country’s economy.

Further, she says the cost of living is higher today which can make it difficult for a male to adequately service his home, adding that chances of causing tension in the home are higher.

Modisaotsile says human beings are by nature emotional beings and when a man charts another woman could become emotionally straining.

“Women enjoy male attention, if it is not there, or it is not enough this can cause them stress which can lead to physical illnesses.”

She adds “the way we were socialised and wired now if we switch to polygamy now this can greatly affect us.

For example, when a couple is married under customary law and has accumulated property together and wealth together over the years it won’t seat well with the wife because this wealth will now be used for marrying a younger woman and sustaining her.

It will be unfair on her and it has the potential of socially and emotionally denting her”.

The Emang Basadi aocate says polygamy is not the solution to the current social ills and suggests that more research should be done to ascertain solutions to today’s social ills.

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Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Medical/Health Care

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