As Alice settles down in her seat, “Beep! Beep!” goes her Nokia cell phone, as it announces P10 worth of airtime that’s been sent by a man she had been talking at less than 5 minutes before.
The man had only asked for her phone number.
“Did he just send airtime!” she exclaims, quickly dialling a friend’s number for an impromptu chat.
“I don’t see anything wrong with go bechediwa,” she says nonchalantly, “I can do with or without being given money or gifts in a relationship.”
A few minutes later, “Ring! Ring!” goes her cell phone, she answers, “Yes, I got the airtime. Thank you,” she smiles sweetly at her suitor, on the other side.
Ironically, I had contacted Alice to ask her a woman’s view of the practice of go becha, (giving prospective/current partners money gifts). Or, as one of my colleagues calls it, ‘go romensa ka coin.’
Go becha is a practice that is commonly practiced by men on women and a thirty-something year old army officer, who insists on being referred to as Sunday, says: “I see it as willingly helping her along. I, however, take offence when she expects me to.”
Sunday says warily, “She could be taking money from you and spending it on other men. I have, on many occasions, given my girl at the time as much as P2000. Once the money or cheque is in her bag, you can forget it!”
“Eight of her friends will miraculously appear during your romantic date. They will all start talking in English and drinking red wine. Your lady will then look at you and rudely ask, ‘Do you have a problem?’ between sips of wine. That’s when you can stand up and go home with you tail between your legs.”
Sunday warms up to the subject, “As for airtime,” he laughs bitterly, “I have bought thousands of Pula worth of airtime and all I ever gotten in return is a text message saying ‘thanx’ and a ‘Please Call me back’ a couple of days later.”
While Sunday insists that he will give his partner money to ‘help her along,’ out of the goodness of his heart, he insists, “I only part with money if the sex is constant. No sex, no cash.”
Another fellow, a music producer, who also seeks anonymity, laughs, “E bile ntse ke betsha. We do it to impress and for the sex,” he says bluntly. “Once a woman accepts money from you, she is somewhat obligated to have sex with you.
“It’s always been that way, that’s what women want,” another man shrugs. Offering his theory, the forty-something-year-old freelance photographer says, “In olden days, women stayed at home and men went to the mines.
“With the man being the sole bread winner, he would earn the family income, and bring gifts for his wife, that’s where go becha started.” He reckons. “However with today’s equality, both sexes are working, the definition is not the same. Why should I give woman money? This is more or less buying her affection.”
Recounting an episode when, after giving his new lady friend money for transport, ‘out of the goodness of his heart’, she called him shortly after parting with him, asking, “And what am I to give my children when I get home?”
He says shaking his head, “I was dismayed.”
While many men relate their horror stories, they insist they simply must comply or never will they get willing partners.
Monei Motswetla, who is a counsellor, commented, “Men and women need each other. They care for each other in different ways.”
She says, “In historical times, man hunted and brought home food. And woman tended to the household and cooked for him.
“They compliment each other,” she says.
With the change in lifestyle and currency, man no longer bring home a guinea fowl he has hunted, but gives items of monetary value.
Says Monei, “There is nothing wrong with this practise in a relationship.”
She, however, says when either party gets selfish then the results are dire. If a woman gets greedy, often being with numerous men just for their monetary value and when men give women gifts expecting ‘something’ in return, then there is bound to be problems.
She acknowledges the shift, where older independent women are dating younger men.
Monei says, “With the woman being the financially independent one, she assumes the traditionally male act ya go becha and female role too which then translates to mothering the younger man, who laps it all up.”
A male graphic designer recalls a similar relationship he had with an older woman. “She was 10 years older than I,” he says, evidently holding fond memories. “When we went out, she footed the bill.”
The 28-year-old graphic designer insists that because he was living on a student income during the relationship, he could afford to respond in kind.
“The problem we had was that she was controlling, wanting to know where I was at every moment, and demanding too much sex all the time.” A challenge of such a relationship, he says, though it may be fun, you never know where you stand. You could wake up and find that she has moved on.
Today he maintains that he does not give women money or expensive gifts though he admits bashfully to buying the odd P10 worth of airtime for his lady friends.
A female journalist reckons relationship such as this one, are her undoing, since “our men are now accustomed to being taken care of. Men will now siphon money off you one way or the other. They will spend time at your house, and have you believe they’re in love but in time you realise it’s only to have a hot meal every night, while you spend twice as much on groceries.”
If they do not steal the money, they will ‘loan’ it never to return it. “Le go becha gaba beche, ba okisa hela.” she retorts. “Though I never was big on a man who gives me money, this new breed is burning holes in our pockets.”