A film starts with a montage of various locations, roads and common buildings of Gaborone.
A meeting of serious-faced, evidently disturbed women follows. The leader of the group speaks about how a lot is happening to them as women-flock, and the importance of keeping the discussions indoors.
That in turn ushers in a narrative by Lebogang Mpofu, affectionately known as Letty, a young woman among the group, married to a man who works as a driver in the government’s Central Transport Organisation. He married her while she had three children, only for them to add more to the number.
A flashback presentation analyses the woman’s marriage life. The first matrimonial stages show a happy family. As the union grows with years, challenges set in. Relocation to Mogoditshane by the family and the increase in number of children means resources become limited.
“Where are we going to spend these forthcoming holidays?” asks Letty looking at herself in the mirror.
“We are not going anywhere,” responds the husband, Joseph Seitei lying on the bed. He does not give a reason why there would be no trip.
“I have been thinking. How could it be if I go and find employment? Money is never enough in this family. If I earn something then I can help you with means of providing a living for our family,” says Letty.
That does not go down well with the husband. He cautions the wife never to think of going to “those” farms to seek employment. His expressions sound like those of a man who feels belittled by his wife.
He does not take kindly to the suggestion that a family man can accept a wife’s genuine support of the family economically.
Nevertheless, the man’s ego negatively impacts on the children’s lives both socially and academically. The P200 he considers enough for the family’s three months welfare leaves them with no sufficient relish, school wear and, worse still, health care.
Children get so bored by having soup and vegetables as relish that one of them even finds it pointless praying for the meals pointless. The husband threatens to ‘add salt’ to her for preparing soup and vegetables daily as relish. He shoots down all questions seeking explanations as to where ATM cards or savings books are.
One of the sons complains of not having school wear, something that leads to a drop his in academic performance. The youngest son tells daddy how fellow pupils laugh at him because his shoes are oversize.
The cowardly, irresponsible dad blames the poor wife for this, accusing her of spending family resources entirely on hairdos.
The same man explodes and puts the blame on the poor wife, yet again for “not holding a knife by the blade”, as mothers do when he comes home to find their daughter down with fever.
He accuses her of irresponsibility since she did not take her to the clinic, inconsiderate of the fact that there are no funds for that. He is infuriated by the wife’s enquiry on why, despite his tenure in the civil service for decades, he still did not have medical aid through which his children could get medical attention.
All odds continue to confront the unstable family, with climax happening when the poor woman has to spend lonely, chilly nights, not knowing the husband’s whereabouts.
The poor woman continues to have hardships piled on her body; and one-day children and neighbours get the insight of her misfortunes when she collapses while doing laundry in the husband’s absence.
The situation cannot be helped by Letty’s visit to her mother-in-law who dismisses her queries as petty; and created to belittle her son.
This episode analyzes the type of Gender Based Violence known as ‘Economic abuse’.
The episode is the first of the 26 ‘Pelokgale’ series.
Titled, ‘Nobody prepared me for this’ the episode can indeed be mistaken for a series called, ‘Ekasi, our stories’ a South African drama series aired on eBotswana every Monday at 2100hrs.
Alas and behold, it is locally brewed by Botswana’s Dee-Zone Productions in collaboration with Kagisano Society Women’s Centre (KSWC), and directed by Thabiso Maretlwaneng.
It was sponsored by the European Union and was launched in a fascinating event at Masa cinemas together with three other projects in KSWC new logo, GBV Training Manual and ‘On her shoes’ training kit Wednesday night.