In an event filled celebration, the Tlokweng Men Sector held a Father’s Day commemoration this past Sunday at Tlamelong Rehabilitation Centre under the theme: “Be Part Of The Inclusion Of Safe Male Circumcision As A Preventive Measure Against HIV Infection”.
Welcoming the attendants to his village, the paramount chief of Batlokwa, Kgosi Puso Gaborone, said, while he appreciated the good work done so far by Men Sector from national level to district level in bringing HIV/AIDS education and counselling, it is worth “to face the challenges of combating HIV AIDS together as children, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons,” adding that the country needs men who are committed to bringing change to the country.
Giving the keynote address, the Deputy Commissioner of Botswana Police and the National Chairperson of Men Sector, Mr. Ikwatlhaeng G. Bagopi, emphasized the importance of marriage as a measure of reducing the spread of HIV/ AIDS. He said men have an obligation to raise the nation by abandoning bachelorhood and being well-meaning and exemplary husbands, adding that “one can still be a man and still fail ‘the test of a father’”.
The chairperson also strongly condemned intergenerational sexes and multiple sexual partners, which some men are proud of to the extent that they say “mathe a basimane ga a ilane,” saying that in this era of HIV/ AIDS the opposite is the case.
He urged males to be part of the solution to the problem and not be the problem, confidently saying that “our forefathers faced other epidemics of their times which they tirelessly prevented from reaching today’s generation, therefore if we trust that we can defeat HIV/AIDS, we can succeed and our grandchildren will find it gone.”
Giving key objectives of Men Sector, the Vice Chairperson, Mr. Serve Bowane, said since men determine a lot of decisions in relationships, Men Sector saw it relevant to have them leading in the fight against AIDS. He said “those who are HIV negative should remain so and those who are positive should carry it to the grave without infecting anyone else and in doing so we will have no one with HIV/AIDS at the end of the day”.
An HIV positive activist and counselor from the Botswana Network of People Living With AIDS (BONEPWA), Mr. Unankone Moalosi, said we are all either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; therefore, we should lead positive lives.
Moalosi said during the time he tested HIV positive, it was difficult because there were few counselors but today it’s much better because of multiple organizations and centers that offer support and counseling. He said men “should guard against being secretive of their sexually transmitted diseases as that can further put them and others in danger of dying prematurely while there is a way out”.
The District AIDS Coordinator and member of Men Sector, Mrs. Mosihe-Sichoongwe, said it is important to forgive oneself so as to forgive others because “if you don’t forgive you will live in the past and the past will haunt you”.
Dr. Farai Masukame spoke about Safe Male Circumcision (S.M.C) which has been proved to reduce chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, stating that so far since last year there have been hundred males in Tlokweng alone who have come forward. He said S.M.C complements the old hymn of ABC.
A representative of the National Coordinating Agency (NACA), Mr. Neo Motimedi, said if the nation allows itself to be caught up in long chains of multiple and concurrent relationships then it has to ask itself “whether the ARV program will be sustainable”.
The Tlokweng College of Education offered drama, poetry and guitar performances. The day was summed up by honouring those who had made contributions in the Batlokwa tribe and the nation at large. Tlokweng businessman and philanthropist, Mr.
Robert Masitara, received an honour in appreciation of his contribution to children’s health. The Botswana Network of Retired Nurses (BORNUS) also received one for caring for the needy and Mr. Bagopi for his dedication to addressing issues affecting men.