Sunday, April 21, 2024

Mothoosele’s family conceives initiative during Christmas

The socio-economic challenges that engulfed the world from the dawn of the twenty-first century brought extended family break down as but one of their abject consequences. Without appropriate precautionary measures, their end results leave some relatives paupers, some criminals. And at times cousins, unaware, marry cousins.

The extreme, long-term corollary of this vice is the burdening of governments with ensuring provision of destitute hand outs (of food baskets and other basic amenities) to relatives of millionaires. In the past, Botswana tradition, this was unheard of, as boipelego (self sustenance) united communities from family level. Including extended.

Cautious of the impending negative occurrences of such ills within their family, the grand children of Mothoosele and Motshwari Paulus of GooMoeng in Gabane Village (popularly known as boora Molapong) celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ in grand style. The former was a retired Second World War veteran while the latter was a house wife and farmer. The former was born in 1900 while the latter was born in 1914. Both are no more.

Just like everybody else, the big family spent money, dined and wined together. A total of P15 950 was raised by the children and great grand children specifically for the event. This excluded beasts that were slaughtered for the same. A white tent was pitched to protect merry makers from Christmas scotching sun. Loud music punctuated speeches here and there. Poems, ululations, whistles and jokes spiced them all.

They did it all, with a motive-to know each other as children of eleven (yes, 11) children of Mothoosele and Motshwari Paulus.
The family tree indicates that the eleven children bore 44 children. The 44 grand children, the eldest of who was born in 1961; thus still fertile and productive, bore 55 known children. It therefore appears self-explanatory, why those grand children organised such a ‘come together’. Doesn’t it? There is a bigger picture to that.

For one of the organisers of the event, one of the grand children, highlighted something that sharpened the curiosity of any inquisitive being; joining the celebration. He was informing friends and relatives who attended what the objective of the event was.

“Our intention is not just to show off to our friends. We do not want to boast that we are a big family of 11 children, though one is no more, 44 grand children and 55 great grand children. There could be families with more than that. All we are trying to do is show the importance of family unity. Not that we are the best. We wish to, after this celebration, come up with something that will ensure our unity is kept for future generations. Something that would indicate to those who wish to join this family through matrimony that they are uniting with members of a united, supportive, big family,” narrated Moemedi Mokgachane to deafening ululations and whistles.

To this writer, such expressions as ‘something’, said between smiles to such gatherings, said in such context; and attracting such ululations won’t go unquestioned.

And so some days after the celebration the man revealed what the ‘something’ was. It is a ‘Family Fund’ concept. It will go by the name ‘Motho-Motshwari’. A committee was in existence to see to it that the Fund materialises. And he chaired it. It consists of first borne children of the eleven children. Where the first borne has died, their first borne, and not their siblings take their place.

A constitution is drawn for the fund, which will operate like Society. The Paulus grand and great grand children would like to change the purpose of Society from being solely a funeral initiative. They want to prove that it can be used to give support even in marriage as well. That way, those of their members who could still be unwed owing to lack of funds would be encouraged to marry.

“The constitution we are drawing is intended to be unique. No one should blame us for copying their idea. We are documenting everything so that future generations do not lose track. We want to inculcate our Setswana’s boipelego (self sustenance) where relatives felt mandated to take care of one another. Our fund will be a Society for a start while we are still thinking of other better ideas. This initiative will solely for the children, grand children great grand children and future generations of Mothoosele and Motshwari Paulus. It does not include friends or relatives,” said Moemedi Mokgachane who chairs the committee though he is not the first borne. It is merely for the fact that the Fund idea is his brain child.

Interestingly, the 11 children had all along been contributing P1000 per family when one of them lost a family member. This meant P10000 had to be popped out immediately someone died. This was somehow strenuous since families do not have equal economic status. This meant that some struggled to fulfil this agreement. With the fund, envisaged to be operational by May 2013, a bank account is to be opened. The ten children, since one passed away last year, will not be contributing on the account.
This will be a thank you gesture to the parents for their parenting.

Then the contribution by the grand and great grand children will be structured according to the family tree structure. The grand children will contribute P100 per month. The great grand children will contribute P50 each.

Between smiles, Mokgachane calculates how much the contributions will make per month and per year if all abide by the rule of the constitution. The grand children will raise P85000 and the great grand children will raise P33000.

“All these funds are affordable. I mean even someone who is not employed can afford to raise P100 and P50. We will discuss the amount that will be used to help those getting married. There also will be amount for those celebrating such things as anniversaries. The withdrawals will also be made to aid according to the family tree structure. The variance will be determined by the family tree structure as well. What is still giving us headaches is how our in-laws are going to be helped. Next is how the children will be helped as the family tree gets lower. There is another challenge-that of children borne out of wedlock. That is why we encourage marriage,” he said.

He firmly believes that the Fund will help unite the family financially. He said, “Whether family members are fighting each other or hate each other, the fund will unite them financially. It will curb situations where a well off family member is always looked up to whenever there was financial need. Some of such members tend to be arrogant and dictate terms to the less gifted. It will even reduce the burden the government is forced to endure, providing for people whose relatives could be assisting.”

Was it easy selling the idea and ultimately bringing together such a large family, some of whose members live out of the original village?

“It was very difficult. It was a challenge. But I am one person who is driven by challenges. I spent time thinking about it. Then I started making calls to individuals, inviting meetings without mentioning the agenda. I ensured the venue was at our great grand parents’ place. This worked for members knew only serious matters could be discussed there. One step followed another until the first phase- come together- materialised, then the committee formation. So it is now a resolution of the whole family for this year. ” he concluded.

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