Friday, March 5, 2021

Buying condoms needs more courage than you think

It’s late at night, Mooketsi walks into a shop and looks around. There are people everywhere, by the tills, the bakery, the vegetable section, the toiletry section; everywhere. He breaks into a sweat and beats a hasty retreat without buying anything
He gets into his car and drives off.

He finally decides that he would rather opt for a quick shop, especially a secluded one that does not attract a lot of customers. With furtive glances around the shop, he idles around and finally conjures enough courage to approach the old woman at the till, who seems to have a permanent scowl on her face and conjures up images of his strict mother back home. But he has no option; it’s either he braves it or fails.

“Can I help you?” asks the old woman cashier.
“C-c-condoms,” he stammers.
“Excuse me? Speak up young man,” she says.

“May I please have a packet of condoms,” he repeats with confidence he did not feel.

Her frown deepens; she gives him a disapproving look. He suddenly regrets deciding to buy at this particular tuck shop, and seriously contemplates making a run for it.
“What flavour?” she asks.

“Moods,” he answers.

“What are moods, young man? I don’t think we have them.”

“Yes you do, they are behind you.”

By this time, a long queue has built up behind him. A young lady smiles amusingly as he glances back, but all the elders seem to be frowning at him.

“What are condoms, mummy?”asks a little girl who is also in the queue with mom. The young lady breaks into uncontrollable laughter. He bolts out of the shop, having completely given up any hope of buying condoms.

Mooketsi’s problem is very common in Botswana. With HIV so prevalent in the country, and the continued insistence on condom use, one would think that Batswana men would by now be comfortable, and even proud of using condoms. But, alas, that is not the case. In fact, while sex is a very common practice in the country, many people are not comfortable with publicly discussing sexual matters, or issues that concern sex.

It has been realized that in African societies, including Botswana, men are in control of sexual matters. By extension, they are responsible for buying condoms. Shop assistants have also been accused of making customers feel uncomfortable when they buy condoms because they give them attitude.

“Shop assistants make us feel like perverts. So the best option is to stock up with the ones provided at work. The only problem is that some people prefer certain brands that are only available in retail shops,” said one connoisseur.


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