Real Alternative Party
The fact that the House of Chiefs delegation failed in the principal objective of the motion of Kgosi Gobuamang Mosielele, the intention of which was to motivate for the mainstreaming of Bojale and Bogwera in the public education system for its role to preserve social order, has invited us to contrast this with the supposed traditional role of chiefs as guardians of indigenous culture. There is serious irony in this failure by those Chiefs who rejected Kgosi Mosielele`s motion. The disregard of the motion has certainly provoked anxiety and discomfort with what can be construed as implied criticism of an indigenous institution by House of Chiefs. The House of Chiefs has tended to avoid getting too closely involved with the institution of Bogwera and Bojale and the role it may play in moving a country forward. It would seem by rejecting Kgosi Mosielele`s motion, Chiefs as the commanders of the field of culture, are themselves confused about the impact and meaning of African culture. What is difficult to understand is that Chiefs as essential symbols of culture are not self-confident enough to recognize the superiority of Bogwera and Bojale but rather they find it perfectly satisfying to shy away from framing the motion as a particular incentive to save Botswana`s culture which has been devastated by colonialism.
The motion of Kgosi Mosielele has exposed the depth of how alienated majority of Botswana Chiefs are from their culture to which through their origins they really belong. The motion has demonstrated that majority of our chiefs are still steeped in attitudes and concepts which reflect the socio-political climate of the colonial period. To perceive Bogwera and Bojale as ‘shame culture’ by House of Chiefs is an attitude that stinks of hypocrisy. It is an attitude cloaked with colonial missionary virtue and has its roots in embryonic elements of neocolonialism. The rejection of the motion by majority of Dikgosi clearly shows how they have been won over and defeated by the deluge of capitalist propaganda and bogus concepts and theories poured out by the imperialists, neocolonialists and reactionary mass communications media. There is an immediate danger of attributing Bogwera and Bojale as the wrong sort of culture as this is bound to cause further injury to identity and self-esteem of Batswana. It is rather more helpful to confront the initiation practices by asking “how can we set bogwera and bojale right?” than “to condemn them as ‘shame culture’. Rather than rejecting the motion outright the House of Chiefs should have debated the challenge to ensure the creative and peaceful coexistence of the global culture, with local values, beliefs and attitudes in a way that allows Botswana to be Botswana as an embracive member of the global economy, but also being true to its essential traditions and values.
Bogwera and Bojale culture possess substantial historical records. Its common traits include: bodily adornment, calendar, cleanliness training, community organization, cooking, cooperative labor, cosmology, courtship, dancing, decorative art, athletic sports, division of labor, dream interpretation, education, eschatology, ethics, ethnobotany, etiquette, family, feasting, fire making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gift giving, greetings, hair styles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, kinship nomenclature, language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, modesty concerning natural functions, mourning, music, mythology, numerals, penal sanctions, personal names, postnatal care, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, religious ritual, residence rules, sexual restrictions, soul concepts, status differentiation, surgery, tool making, and trade and so on.
The topic of Bogwera and Bojale culture and development is also related with the field of behavioral economics, which focuses on the role of psychological and social factors in improving rural living conditions such as roads, housing, water supply, sewage and irrigation. It is therefore no doubt true to say that “culture matters” or to claim, that “culture makes almost all the difference” as kgosi Mosielele qualified. To state that “culture matters” is to state an important truth in the sense of a nation’s genetic endowment. Cultural traits are important as key drivers of positive consequences such as the study of ethics and the idea to nurture patriotism and discipline of oneself in daily life, help keep good order in one’s family, and fully discharge one’s responsibility on the job. Its teachings can affect preferences, by inducing “specific behaviors such as self-regarding. In essence Bogwera and Bojale can help explain how individuals think, interact with each other, and how they make economic decisions. The African culture like all other cultures is imbued with a modicum of intellectual integrity. Bogwera and Bojale are one such distinctive culture.
The initiation ceremonies (Bogwera and Bojale) are a product of acting social beings trying to make sense of the world in which they find themselves. It consists of human relationships. It is not some abstractly ordered system. Its logic derives from the logic or organization of action, from people operating within certain institutional orders, interpreting their situations in order to act coherently within them”. It is intrinsically no different than values, beliefs, attitudes, practices, symbols of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and all other world religions. For this reason, Bogwera and Bojale should be considered as an incentive that “shapes a repertoire or ‘tool kit’ of habits, skills, and styles from which people construct ‘strategies of action’”. Bogwera and Bojale should be re-casted as forward looking for the future. They should be permitted in as far as the ordering of life in ways that expose citizens to more successful behaviors. They must have a role in guiding a population along a particular development path and used to effect a major impact on productivity. It is indeed a fact that the very notion of productivity is a by-product of the Bogwera and Bojale initiations.
The thing that makes Bogwera and Bojale difficult to operationalize, and even more problematic in this era is its process of “cultural homogenization” and its hierarchical and inflexible phenomenon. The secret undertaking of the initiation ceremonies makes them unpopular and unappealing to the broader population. What is needed to make a big difference is to make Bogwera and Bojale a particular culture that is forward looking and not unduly focused on the past. The caretakers of the Bogwera and Bojale institution therefore need to alter its homogenization preferences and expand its menu of choice through the process of cultural integration and multiculturalism. The frontrunners of Bogwera and Bojale would have to confront the fact that cultural identity is not fixed and that it interacts with history. They need to come to the understanding that culture is ever evolving hence, it is affected by the process of development itself, and is surely shaped in many ways by the rise and dissemination of technology and scientific ideas. Thus for Bogwera and Bojale to endure and be progressive its guardians ought to adapt the collective habits of human societies progressively over time to the changing conditions of existence. The initiation practices must be advanced as the product of learning, not of heredity. As an institution it must be turned into a cumulative product of mass learning under diverse geographic and social conditions.
To attract broader participation Bogwera and Bojale ought to be reviewed and constructed like all cultures i.e. (particularly Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) according to a single fundamental plan—the ‘universal cultural pattern’” a concept based on the “psychic unity of mankind”, the assumption that “all peoples now living irrespective of differences in geography and physique, are essentially alike in their basic psychological equipment and mechanism, and that the cultural differences between them reflect only the differential responses of essentially similar organisms to unlike stimuli or conditions.” However harsh it may appear to the custodians of Bogwera and Bojale, they must stomach the truth that cultural change is inevitable hence they must affirm cross-cultural exchanges.