But as this is the time of year when resolutions are made, I have boldly decided to put aside my misgivings and share with you this extraordinary tale that cannot simply be dismissed as dilotsagompieno (things of today).
Halima had received a tip off from a jealous lover concerning a relationship his wife was allegedly having with a colleague.
Initially he dismissed the persistent allegation as crazy because the colleague was a female friend of his wife.
But so intent was his informer at ‘opening his eyes’ that he eventually agreed to take action.
It came on the day when his wife was supposed to be on a business trip some 700km away from home.
The informer plotted with Halima to take him to a place just 40km away that she claimed was the hide out of the two women.
Hoping that the whole affair was just a malicious lie he travelled to the place and was shown the house where the forbidden affair was apparently taking place.
He nervously knocked on the door not knowing what to expect and waited during the endless silence that followed.
Eventually a voice from inside enquired as to who the knocker was and he identified himself.
This was followed by another deathly silence until the door was finally opened.
It was Peo.
The couple stood there transfixed, lost for words.
Gone was the traditional hug and kiss as the two stared at each other as if looking at a ghost.
Halima was the first to recover, anger replacing shock as he barked instructions that they should go home.
Peo obediently followed like a trained puppy.
Once in the car shewas subjected to physical aggression and verbal abuse as the man, who claimed he had never touched her in his life, continued his vicious interrogation.
Jabbing his finger at her he demanded to know what Peo was doing in the house, how long she had been there, and what plans she had for their marriage and small child.
The arguments raged for days with Halima even threatening to involve the police, but backing down out of his own embarrassment at disclosing such sensitive information.
The couple had tried to involve the parents who simply trivialized the whole saga by asking,‘gorilengfamosadiaetetsetsalayagagwe’ – meaning what is wrong with a woman visiting another woman?
This reaction drove Halima to despair and he finally found his way to the Kgotla, presenting me with one of the most unnerving cases I had ever had to deal with.
Halima arrived in the company of his petite but pretty, elegantand well-groomed wife.
She carried a sweet and gentle spirit – her angelic outlook seeming to suggest that this was a woman who could not hurt anyone.
After exchanging greetings, Halima launched into his tirade against his wife, barely stopping for breath as he denounced what he termed her ‘demonic’ behaviour.
Although Peo looked like a scared rabbit, when she opened her mouth to speak it was with amazing strength and courage. She asked a few questions.
Peo: Why do you think an adult like me tells a lie about where she is?
Hlima: O ishabamokgwa-meaning you are insecure about your character.
Peo: What was I doing when you found me?
Halima: You were sleeping with another woman in Tonota when you told me you were in Johannesburg.
Peo: Is there anything wrong with sleeping with another woman?
Halima got visibly agitated and raised his eyebrows in dismay as he looked towards me for explanation.
I gently urged him to answer the question.
Halima: A lot is wrong when a married woman who is supposed to be doing a project 700km away is suddenly ambushed in another woman’s house less than 30 minutes away from her husband and child.
Peo took time to adjust her hairpiece and renew her lipstick before declaring that she only had a few words to say.
She stated that although she was a wife and mother she had not surrendered her personal liberty when she married Halima.
She described how she felt suffocated by matrimonial rules to the extent that there were times when she just wanted to be her own person minus husband and child.
She requested Halima to be man enough to handle the matter with dignity.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE?
Halima had made numerous conclusions concerning the matter especially with the aid of the bitter informer, who in her anger, frustration and jealousy had left no stone unturned in exposing explicit facts about the nature of Peo’s relationship.
He in turn felt violated first by the lies and by finding his wife with another woman.
For her part Peo had crossed the boundaries of acceptable behaviour to enter a place her husband could only dismiss as the devil’s terrain by boldly asking the question:
“What is wrong with being with another woman?”
In conclusion I shared with the couple a chart that identifiedthe core values of a healthy relationship and asked them to use it to evaluate their marriage.
The fact that they scored below 50%simply confirmed that theirs was a relationship in desperate need of resuscitation.
The lesson here is that modern society has acquired new freedoms that challenges and often breaktraditionally known values.
Over the years I have encountered several such cases and have had to deal with the prejudices that accompany them whilst recognising that elements in our society aredesperately crying for help.
As the vision of 2016 approaches Botswana is asking all to acknowledge the robustness of its growth and prepare a response system that will help the younger generation cope.
Society may choose to label some things sinful, unlawful and forbidden, but they are realities that have the potential to hurt and destroy the motherland we so cherish.
In the absence of professional and knowledge-based interventions, individuals may out of desperation resort to violence to themselves and others.
Simply expressing disgust or disapproval does not make them go away, nor does it do credit to a nation that prides itself as compassionate and caring.
As the New Year unfolds with all its hopes and expectations we have all to face the challenges that lie ahead with courage and humanity.
Wishing you Peace and Love in 2014.Goledzwa.