Mochudi — In his pledge to transform Botswana's economy into a knowledge-based economy, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has on multiple occasions vowed to make this a reality with everything at his disposal and as he looks to achieve this; what is it that we can do as a nation to re-enforce the President's efforts?
Botswana has always been touted as a beacon of hope and a shining example of what a democratic state should be; and it comes as no surprise that her people are at the centre of this amazing peace and tranquility that has reigned.
It has always been said charity begins at home and for one to change the world, you have to change your ways first, and for that to happen the family structure needs to be secure and grounded in love.
It is no secret that the family structure in Botswana has for years deteriorated to a point where divorce rates are high, gender based violence cases are ever increasing, cheating has been normalised, children are suffering from depression due to family stress and consequently struggling to excel at school, substance abuse is common and the list goes on and on.
Most, if not all of such social ills that afflict the society at large can be traced back to unhealthy families and the effects are so tremendous such that if not adequately addressed, they will continue to reverberate at every level of society and generations to come, will be dealt a very difficult hand and navigating life will be extremely hard.
To this end, Ashley and Percy Thaba decided to speak out and be the change that President Masisi has on many occasions called on Batswana to exhibit.
The Thabas have been married for over 30 years and have intentionally decided to assist, advice and guide and be exemplary in contributing to Batswana with various works aimed at strengthening the family unit.
One such initiative is their self-sponsored and popular show, which airs weekly on BTV, Talking with the Thabas and it has revolutionised many families across the nation.
Currently BTV is running the entire season one for a second time, and what is different this time is that families around the country have started speaking up and using the show to improve their communities, which is a campaign the Thabas have started.
A group of over 1 000 families from across the country from areas like Gumare, Rakops, Maun, Tutume, Takotokwane, Bobonong, Borolong, Jwaneng, Orapa, Francistown, Mahalapye, Gaborone, Metsimotlhabe, Lobatse and other areas have decided to commit to watching the Thabas' show each Sunday night at 7:30pm on BTV and form discussion groups afterwards.
The groups around the country meet to discuss the practical tips the Thabas give and the idea is that if groups gather and discuss topics that are normally deemed secretive, communities can support one another with the real issues that every family was facing.
Many exclaim that what they find so attractive about the show was the Thaba's honesty about their marital issues.
Speaking in an interview, Nnyaladzi Madzikigwa, one of the many group leaders across the country, based in Rakops said the Thabas' advice to tackle issues head on before they build up was refreshing, especially because their show offers practical advice with their own lives on exactly what this can look like on a day to day basis.
"In our culture, it is common for many issues to be swept under the rug in an attempt to avoid conflict," she said.
She said since they started a group discussion in Rakops, the traditional village leadership had also come on board to support their efforts.
"Kgosi Diane Jacob sent his subordinate Kgosi Seane Tatolo to meet with us and hear how discussions have been going and he has also instructed our entire village to go through the books that we have been given by the Thabas," she continued.
Madzikigwa further indicated that Kgosi Jacob had also told dikgosana in all the wards to teach six men and six women about the book on a weekly basis.
"There are 12 wards in Rakops, so each kgosana will bring six men for discussions and mmakgosi invites six women, so that is our 72/72 family life campaign in Rakops," said Madzikigwa.
She said they were looking to invite the Thaba family to Rakops so they could appreciate what their efforts had started and they hope by the time they come, the entire village would have been trained on family and marriage.
Another group leader, a youth in Gaborone, Olebogeng Maswabi said the initiative by the Thabas had taught him and others a lot.
"What is refreshing about it is that it helps us singles and married people alike," he said.
He said the tv show and the work book prepares one for marriage and every aspect about relationships is addressed.
Beyond the campaign, Maswabi said they hope to host a youth seminar as they look to bridge the gap between generations for a better relationship across generations.
He said one particular lesson on conflict resolution helped him deal with a troubled relationship he had with his cousin.
For her part, Ashley Thaba said they had written a workbook that goes along with the show, which groups could use to get more out of the campaign.
"This workbook is an in depth relationship guide helping with most of the problem areas any couple may face.
Botswana National Youth Council has come on board to help sponsor this campaign and provide these books to the youth to use as a training resource," she said.
Thaba said the idea was to teach youth before they get married about healthy communication, conflict resolution, how to prepare for a healthy marriage, what to look for in a spouse, how to deal with drivers of gender based violence and substance abuse among other things.
Thaba said they believe if people could invest into youth so that they build a healthy foundation, then the homes they would eventually build once they start their own families, would be stronger.
"Offense is the best defense. This campaign is impacting families across the nation as over 1 000 families meet weekly for 13 weeks and are testifying that their lives are being improved by the tips they are getting out of watching the shows, discussing in their groups and reading the workbooks," she said.
"We would love to be able to do more to encourage Botswana at its most foundational aspect; the family.
Stronger families for a stronger nation," she concluded.
Source : BOPA