Often when the subject of promiscuity is brought up in this country it is more from the perspective of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Maybe emphasis should rather be on how it potentially degrades and emotionally affects those concerned.
Batswana could rank highly in world statistics of promiscuity. With no intention of tampering with feelings, Batswana are mostly in very unfaithful relationships and marriages.
This is something that anybody who has spent time inside the country’s borders for long enough does not need statistics to prove. They just have to look around them to see the sad reality.
It is as though the country has caught some infectious ‘can’t make my mind up on who I want to be with’ bug.
A couple that monogamously remains with each other in Botswana seems a rare occurrence.
“We all know the health risks that come with living this way; a song that is being sung everyday, more than the national anthem itself! Yet we seem to go out looking for opportunities to be unfaithful to each other,” complains Mariam Motlhagodi, a midwife at Phase 2 clinic.
She says most of the pregnant women she attends to daily are highly stressed out by their partners’ multiple relations and lack of concern for the unborn child. Her worry is the high blood pressure that these expectant mothers have to live with which could be fatal to the innocent lives in their wombs.
The common argument is that Africans have a polygamist history and therefore can only follow in the footsteps of ancestors.
Polygamy though is an arrangement where a man is allowed to marry more than one wife but remain faithful to all his wives.
“What happens these days is far from polygamy. People casually get involved with an embarrassingly long list of people at the same time as if one keeps a log book,” remarks 89-year-old Moilwa Morupisi, a well respected elderly man in Mogobane village.
He is disgusted by how Batswana even go to the extent of labelling one person a ‘permanent’ girlfriend or boyfriend while they carry on cheating and seemingly agreeing with their concubines to respect ‘boundaries’ like no phone calls at certain times.
“Cheating has become so condoned it is sickening, it is no longer a valid reason to end a relationship simply because everyone is doing it and the chances of being with someone who doesn’t have become so miniscule,” he says.
One may wonder if the country has lost its bone of compassion towards one another.
Sadly actions do affect people in relationships.
The saying ‘no man is an island’ has proven its reality through the ages. There is a generation of young children who are made vulnerable as they watch what their older brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts get up to every day.
It should not be underestimated how diligently observant the little ones are, who could in turn end up continuing the hideous trend as they age.
Apart from worrying about the children, men and women need to worry about each other as couples.
Even though cheating is commonplace, hearts get bruised on discovering this ill as a reality they are expected to live with. It really should not take that much to respect one another and have the same respect for relationships.
“I think we should not just love the people we have in our lives but we should also have a lot of love for the relationships we have too and cherish them. Policing each other should really not be necessary because we must just be expected to have self discipline period!” exclaims Gaone Seakgosing, a second year Law Student at University of Botswana.
She says there are people elsewhere in the world who find all fulfilment from one partner in one relationship and fails to understand why it cannot happen in Botswana.
“We seem to be refusing to learn lessons from all the passion killings that are spreading in this country,” cautions Gaone.
So many times people kill each other and investigations show that promiscuity was the root cause. She believes Batswana have set a trend on themselves that leads them into slaying each other.
“These days we have enough psychologists, psychiatrics, Social Workers you name it, to go around. I really think if there was ever a good time to start putting them to good use in as far as tackling our relationship issues is concerned, now is the time,” says Seakgosing.
Monogamy is not far-fetched. The challenge could be channelling hearts and minds in that direction. Everyone needs a lot of stability in their relationship and it is up to the individual to turn their life around and bring in that stability.
“We can all start learning to devote our hearts to one person today. Besides, we just need to take that first step and it can’t be that difficult. How are we going to become what we want to become as a nation by remaining what we are? Is it not time for us as a people to change how we live and treat each other?” asked a concerned Gaone.