Trouble in the Big House

Trouble in the Big House

Polygamy is African, in fact, the feminist view holds the view that polygamy is a patriarchal practice that subjugates women and infringes on their rights. There is a more simplistic view that the crew playing moraba-raba hold: there are more women than men and those ones that form the extension should not be left to languish alone and lonely, stuck in spinsterhood till death. They too need to be married to someone, even if it is ‘their’ someone that they share.

I am not against both views, I am against the idea of divorce where one spouse is left for a new ‘babe’ and the children from the first marriage are abandoned by the father. Drunk in the clutches and embraces of a new marriage, many divorced men have the tendency to leave their exes stuck with the load of taking care of the children begot from the once happy union. The poor women have to then deal with the arduous task of caring for children that miss their father that has gone into the arms of the new woman and totally forgotten about them.

It is a painful experience for a child to long for what cannot be got, even more painful for the child to yearn for the love of a parent that has forgotten about them. We have the so-called democratic systems of rule and clear laws on the rights of the child with regard to the maintenance of good relations between the parent and the child. Where such laws are flawed is at the point where they draw the line between what constitutes a minor and an adult. The simple logic lies in the fact that one never stops being a child to their parent, even beyond the legal age. Father stays father till death, and this in essence means that one can consult their father as a child should at any point in their lives.

It is escapism legalised that one is considered an adult at a certain point in their lives, and this means that the chain of continuity in terms of morals and family principles is broken as the parent moves on into other relationships and the child walks on into adulthood. One can safely assume that the laws regarding childhood and adulthood should be reviewed. There are far too many runaway parents, and it is at the expense of the poor children and the processes related to social cohesion.

It is in a democratic state of the present times where one sees practices that threaten the stability of the social structure being allowed to go on unchecked. Usually clustered under the guise of progress, new age practices that have their platform on social media websites are slowly but steadily eroding the very fabric of society that keeps the basic unit that the family is together.

Minors have access to material that is not suitable for their eyes and minds on the now relatively uncontrolled World Wide Web. Individuals air dangerous opinions and views at the expense of social peace and stability, there just seems to be no control against the airing of dangerous views and opinions on social media. This has bred a culture of callouts that are in simple terms meant to shame one side for the aggrandisement of another.

It could well be right that people are granted the basic right to freedom of expression; but what if such freedom of expression is outright abused? What if details that could prove dangerous to the general stability of society and state are aired without apparent concern for the ears and minds of other citizens? The peace of the general public should in an ideal environment come before the interests of the individual. It should be understood that I am only making mention of the ‘ideal’ and know that sometimes the ideal is not easily attained.

This is where personal refrain should take the fore and anyone that feels they cannot restrain their emotion should resort to the more honourable method of personal confrontation before resorting to the bullhorn tactics of social media callouts. It is not right to use the loudhailer if one could have addressed a private issue in private. Using the loudspeaker to address a domestic affair labels the speaker as a rabble-rouser. Being demagogic about issues shall never get the individual that needs to sort a domestic matter the desired result, all it will beget is more trouble if the party being called chooses to respond in silence.

The public as aforementioned in an earlier post is basically a coward willing to follow anyone that stands out or takes the first step towards some goal or stands up against what they perceive as an injustice. Social-media has given birth to a callout culture that thrives on shaming individuals considered to have committed offences with the primary goal being to punish them. We have had such incidences in the new regime heading the Lesotho government with the last spat being in the form of voice recordings of someone supposed to be the First Daughter haranguing the current First Lady.

The accusations such an individual laid bare on social media are of a nature so serious that they threaten the peace of the state. The basic threat is in the integrity of the family she is a part of as the daughter. It is not a wise move to besmirch the image of a family that is by right meant to be the model and image of the state, for doing so may lead to the common man and woman losing their bearing in terms of how to behave in a manner that is prudent.

We are a society whose origin lies in the extended family model and this means that there are a thousand other family members to consult when there is a glitch in the machine that is the family. There are a thousand uncles, a thousand aunties, a few hundred family elders, cousins, brothers and sisters that can be asked for help when the immediate family is in feud. A series of troubles or unfortunate events can be dealt with if the family is put first, but it seems that we have become victims to a type of progress that leans more on external cultural influences than the tried and tested ways of old.

The smart-phone or device has become a platform on which those whose anger gets the better of air their dirty laundry, and the danger in the long run lies in the fact that it will wash off onto the younger generation. A disaster awaits the society that does not consider the influence of their deeds and words on the younger children who may or may not adopt the attitudes and practices of their elders. We have let technology take advantage of us not the other way round where we use technology for our benefit.
I honestly am not impressed by the expensive smart-phones Africans tote around like sceptres because the honest fact of the matter is that they are used for cheap purposes. Slander and gossip are cheap, so cheap that the high official’s daughter sees no wrong in airing dirty laundry in public with the lame defence that such audio-clips as those we heard were ‘leaked’.

The simple piece of advice I give to such an individual is that they should not be speaking private matters on a public platform because the recipients may not be as prudent about keeping such spoken secrets private, leading to the disaster one heard in the past week being sent from phone to phone via social media. The reputation of one takes a very long time to build, but it takes a second to destroy it to a point where it may prove unsalvageable.

There was an internet media platform a few years ago on which Basotho would use the most vile language to discuss issues. Similar platforms on the same website from other countries had serious issues related to economic, political and social progress to discuss. It made me wonder why a bunch of graduates (I could tell from the campus beer-hall speak that they were graduates, being a graduate myself) could find speaking about the types of private parts interesting on a public platform.

This means that our entry into the world of social media was wrong from the onset. We have seen video clips that shame individuals being shared, have heard clips that are nothing more than slander being broadcast and still, we keep silent when we should address the issue of appropriate manners and etiquette when it comes to the use of social media as a tool for courteous communication and conversation.

It is hard to get off the phone, it takes some time to see the real danger that comes with just jumping onto the social media craze gripping a large part of the general public that possess android phones and devices. The temptation is to speak one’s mind without refrain, and in a moment of passion words one may later regret may be spoken or typed. This means that one should ensure that they are in the right frame of mind before even daring to type a single word or speaking a single note on the social media platforms available. Being careful is the expected behaviour of the ruling classes, but etiquette has been lost to a large extent where campaign speeches carry on from the days of the pre-election right through the years of governance.

The usual attitude of the Lesotho politician is to discredit the next party, and the real concerns of the people come in only to pepper the verbal fisticuffs that carry on throughout the term of rule. The undemocratic manner in which our politicians have so far behaved has trickled down to the common masses where their children and their followers feel it is right to speak as they wish because of their position.

A quote from a previous article states that John Dewey (1859-1952) deems democracy a political form and method of conducting government and administration that is much broader and deeper than it is usually conceived of as; it is a way of life adopted for:
…the participation of every mature human being in formation of the values that regulate the living of men together: which is necessary from the standpoint of both the general social welfare and the full development of human beings as individuals.

Democracy grants all the individuals in society equal rights and freedoms which should be used to promote the harmonious living of all individuals living within society. One of the basic rights the mature individual has is the right to be involved in the decision-making processes that affect him or her and the community within which they live.

They in my opinion have this right by virtue of being citizens in a state where the decisions of the government they voted or did not vote into office have a direct or indirect effect on their lives. Attached to these rights, therefore, are responsibilities attached; like the responsibility to ensure and to value the safety and well-being of other members of society and their property as much as one would value their own.

It is not right that what is considered right acts in a manner that is wrong, that is, the expectation of the larger part of the citizenry should not be insulted for the aggrandisement of the humour of one individual. There has been no concern for the rights of the larger part of the population for a long time, and it has gotten to the point where all control has been lost.

It is sure to become even more popular to insult those that anger one than to discuss private matters in private. Armed with the phone, the ordinary citizen is soon to become a creature that randomly and without refrain insults anyone they feel wronged them instead of resorting to the more amicable way of discussion. Public figures fail to understand the impact they have on the ordinary folk, there needs to be lessons on proper public etiquette.

Trouble in the house on top of the hill is carried to the valley and village and the town by gravity, the Lesotho politician needs to understand this before letting go of words that could prove fatal to the stability of the land. We cannot have a country where public callouts and heckling, and harassment should be given free rein because they will at the end of the day destroy us. Apologies should be made to the public for the harrowing words they are forced to listen to.

Words that pertain to murder, adultery, and related offences should be spoken with due care in advance, otherwise the trouble at the big house may end up disturbing the peace of the commoner in the villages and towns of this here land. We have become unfeeling, apathetic, and to a large extent condescending towards the welfare and rights of others. It is a monster that we can beat if we stop believing in the new dangerous social media we recklessly use without considering the repercussions.

Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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