Many, if not all foreigners, who visit our country either as tourists or on business as well as asylum seekers have always been full of praise for Batswana for being such a principled people.
From the way we greet when passing each other on the streets, to the cashier at the local store till serving you with a smile, Batswana are known to be a caring and compassionate nation.
Though this may amaze them, many Batswana believe our nation is faced with major cultural erosion and this can be blamed mainly on the infusion of western cultures.
This has not gone down well with many of our elders who accuse the youth of having lost their principles, especially that of Botho.
This principle plays an important role in the way Batswana interact in society.
Botho is Botswana’s fifth National Principle and it defines a process of earning respect by first giving it, and to gain empowerment by empowering others. It includes positive attributes, such as respect, good manners, compassion, helpfulness, politeness and humility, expected from a human being.
Sixty-five-year-old Silas Tengawarima says Batswana youth, especially those living in urban areas, have totally ignored their culture. “We have lost direction and no longer respect our elders.
Unlike back in the day when a youngster would gladly make way, stop and greet any approaching elder, these days it’s not surprising to find a youngster occupying a seat while there is an elder standing up. When one tries to advise them, they tell you about their rights.
According to Silas, society is also to blame for all these cultural mishaps.
“Look at the number of women dressed in pants all in the name of fashion. These days one can no longer tell between a man and a woman because we all dress alike. Now how do we expect our kids to listen to us when we can’t lead by example?”
MmaGaone of Mogoditshane says we have lost our principles as Batswana.
“In the good old days, it was better because the system allowed for disobedient children to be punished at the kgotla or by any of the village elders,” she said. “These days it’s not surprising to find a child answering back to their parents. We are scared to send our kids to the shops because either they take the whole day or they never come back with your money. They know we cannot beat them lest they report us to the police.”
She blames urbanisation saying the situation is not as bad in the villages as it is in towns.
“When our children go to the towns and cities they start misbehaving knowing they have left their parents at home. But it is also up to us as elders and parents to lead by example, we need to stop hanging out and having intimate relationships with our children for them to respect us,” she said quoting the Setswana proverb that goes “susu ilela suswana…”