Saturday, September 25, 2021

Botswana’s vaccination drive runs into culture clash

Scores of Batswana women dressed up in pants and men without jackets showing up at the Kgotla to take their Covid-19 jabs are being turned back because they offend the country’s traditional council’s dress code.

Village Kgotlas or traditional community council have been identified as vaccination sites in Botswana’s current vaccine mass roll out programme. Traditional leaders however are refusing to relax the Kgotla’s traditional dress code to facilitate the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

Kgosi Malope Gaseitsewe ll of Bangwaketse told Sunday Standard  that he will not give up kgotla traditions to accommodate the Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Gaseitsewe said recipients of vaccines have a choice to either adhere to traditional values set up for the kgotla or vaccinate elsewhere.

“We have chased away people dressed up in attires that do not comply with the kgotla dress code and I must say that I will not entertain anyone coming into in this kgotla dressed in whatever they pleases them,” said Kgosi Gaseitsewe ll.

He said the community should always observe the kgotla decorum and sense of decency.

“Woman for instance know very well that they should dress in a skirt  to a kgotla , and now because there is a vaccination process going on, people expect us to desecrate our long held traditions. That we cannot allow,” said an adamant Kgosi Gaseitsewe ll.

Bakgatla regent, Kgosi Bana Sekai said although his kgotla was not identified as a vaccination site, he would not allow anyone to vaccinate dressed in anything that offends kgotla tradition.

“I am sure people know what is expected of them when coming to a kgotla, so the notion that people want traditional leaders to waive protocol for them is not going to work,” said Kgosi Sekai. He said people should respect to kgotla traditions in order to avoid any inconvenience.

“Kgotla just like any other place has its own traditions and we cannot be expected to dishonour tradition just because people want to vaccinate. If at any given point government decides to use our kgotla as a vaccination site, then it should be clear that we will not allow women dressed in pants or men dressed in skirts,” said Kgosi Sekai.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Grace Muzila said she was aware of reports that some people are being turned away at kgotla for not complying with the dress code.She the ministry would engage with relevant partners to address the matter.

“The Ministry is aware of the issue.  Kgotlas have their regulations including dress codes.  We will therefore engage with relevant partners to address the matter,” said Muzila.

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