Sunday, September 27, 2020

Having children out of wedlock no longer a taboo

A senior lecturer at the University of Botswana, Dr Segomotso Keakopa, who was raised by both her mother and father could have liked the upbringing of her children to be the same as hers.

Nevertheless that never happened as she had to raise her two children as a single mother.

A trend of children born out of wedlock has proved that the notion “family forms” are equally as helpful or healthy for children is not relevant in Tswana culture today.

“As a teenager I had my first born. I had expected that the father would take care of the child. He would sometime come to visit but then suddenly vanished. When I had my second child, it was cantered around marriage. When I went oversees for further studies I was expecting my second born child who was born there,” says Keakopa. “I gave up and told myself that I would raise my children alone when, upon my return, I discovered that the man had moved in with another woman.”

As a woman, Keakopa was able to raise her children as a single parent, performing the motherly and fatherly duties for them.

Luckily, their uncles were present and they were always there to provide the fatherly support.
She still holds that she could have loved her children to be raised by both parents.

Dr Onalenna Selolwane, a senior lecturer at the University of Botswana in the Department of Sociology, argues that the trend of children born out of wedlock is a result of males who went to mines in large numbers.

Selolwane explains that it was taboo to have a child out of wedlock.

Selolwane explained that the scenario was a result of males who went to ply their trade in mines during the apartheid era in 1940’s.

“Almost 40 percent of males aged 16 to 40 years left the country to go and work in the mines in South Africa. A good number of women were left behind,” she added.

She emphasized that the number of males shrunk dramatically while that of females remained high. Selolwane said that marriage also declined because most of the productive man had left the country.
She added that some left their women behind only to find that their wives had children when they came back.

“That was when the culture of having children out of wedlock started. The society started appreciating and entertaining the culture of bearing children out of wedlock. It became something that is normal in our culture,” she added.

In her research work, she found that bearing children out of wedlock was becoming a societal norm in tswana culture.

Selolwane said she was shocked when she leant that parents were advising their children that they should have children if they were not lucky to tie the knot in rural villages, adding that the trend of children born out of wedlock keeps growing due to irresponsible man who are afraid to raise their children.

According to Selolwane bearing children out of wedlock has disadvantages to children.
However, in today’s society where professional women abound, it is no longer taboo to have children out of wedlock since some women choose just to have kids without the overbearing man around the house.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.