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A fatherless nation

83.8 percent of 2019 births were to single mothers

The population has not increased significantly in the last 11 years – an unimpressive 15.9 percent growth – from 2,024,904 in 2011 to 2,346,179 this year.

This is according to the preliminary results of the 2022 Population and Housing Census released by Statistics Botswana this week, “The first in Botswana to use digital technology”. Statistician General, Dr Burton Mguni, remarked: “At the current rate of growth, Botswana’s population will take approximately 58 years to reach double the current figure.”

Meanwhile, on Mother’s Day, the official Statistics Botswana Facebook page celebrated mothers with further depressing details: “Did you know that births that occurred in 2019 were born to 83.8 percent single mothers?” Voice Woman speaks to women about the report.

Bareedi Darlington, 35

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I gave birth in 2020, and I recall just how many mothers in my hospital ward seemed to be struggling.

I could tell they were single mothers. In fact, some did disclose that their baby daddies had since bolted; do they ever stay really?

The new mums seemed so needy that some of us who had the means had to share with them basic stuff like nappies, methylated spirit and sanitary pads.

So, I’m not entirely surprised by this revelation even though it’s a depressing number.

Nowadays, women make the decision to have children knowing full well that they are likely to raise them on their own.

What can we do? Every woman wants a child regardless. The only solution to this problem is for government and employers in general to give priority to single mothers and women when hiring so as to improve their financial status during these tough economic times.

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Besides, women nowadays also take care of men.

Bathusi Molulwane, 33

This 83.8% is a major concern. Children deserve to be brought up by 2 parents.

What kind of generation are we raising? Single mothers carry the financial burden of raising children alone as daily budget gets tighter; imagine food, particularly, is so expensive.

BATHUSI MOLULWANE

Later, they are confronted with the difficult task of having to explain to their children where their fathers disappeared.

In the case of boy children, they grow up without immediate male role models who help shape their character.

The National Assembly should pass stricter laws to make sure no child grows up without a father.

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I’ve heard that a law exists that ensures a father’s name is included in the child’s birth certificate; I don’t think it has resulted in any positive change.

Keneilwe Lethosa, 39

It’s a shame, considering that for a child to come into this world, it takes two humans: a woman and a man.

These figures are telling a different story. As a people, we need some serious introspection.

We need to carefully reassess our way of life because our actions will, in the long run, affect the emotional development of our children.

However, you cannot force a man to raise or have a relationship with a child because that may endanger the very life of that child.

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KENEILWE LETHOSA

We have read of such cases where men killed their children to avoid paying maintenance.

One would think that because today Batswana are generally more educated or ‘civilised’ than before, we wouldn’t still have illegitimate children.

Lesego Madubeko, 32

The shocking statistics paints a grim picture of our fractured society.

You can say I’m just that statistic; though I had my child in 2018.

This next generation of children who grow up with absent-fathers is going to be very bitter and angry.

Our men a sense of lack commitment and responsibility.

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My hope is that men would learn to put issues with baby mamas aside and instead focus on the best interests of children they’ve sired.

Tumisang Oaitse Ramphala, 28

Most of us young women end up with illegitimate children because men leave after impregnating us.

Most young men spend a lot of their free time hanging out with friends drinking; they have no time for kids.

They easily abandon their responsibilities; even those who can afford to take care of children.

Lebo Mncedisi, 26

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I’m not at all surprised by this report. It’s not unusual for men to disappear after siring children, then move on to the next woman who is younger or ‘fresher’.
Women’s bodies change after pregnancy, but men don’t seem to accept this and that’s why some of them dump their baby mamas for more childfree women.

I am fortunate that I’m married but these issues exist in my extended family.

Anna Lekolwane, 43

The problem is that there’s fewer men compared to women. In most cases, one man will have children with about 5 different women, and what’s even worse is some men will commit to one of five women hence we end up with a lot of mothers with illegitimate children.

Married men are usually the culprits.

They leave women at home and start chasing ma-14. These are my observations.

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Anonymous, 30

It’s a concern. The thing is, we cannot advice people against relationships or having children just because of this report, as people still want to have offsprings; it’s human nature to desire that.

It is a tricky matter because our population is not growing satisfactorily.

Women are cautious after disappointment from previous relationships thus a lot of single women stop at one child, because once bitten twice shy.

KAGISO HAWTHORNE

As studies show, children thrive socially, emotionally, and academically when they are raised in a healthy two-parent family.

The high numbers of single-parent families in Botswana are worrisome.

When Covid-19 hit us, we lost so many to the pandemic and that led to the skyrocketing numbers of children being orphaned.

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When a country goes through inflation, the first to feel the impact are the single mothers who have to raise children on their own.

We are raising a generation of children whose basic needs are not being met due to the current socio-economic situation the country is in.

Single mothers have to work long hours just so to make ends meet.

That means more and more children are being left home alone without adult supervision.

This tends to lead to children being “out on the streets”, which has led to high incidences of drug use, crime, and different kinds of abuse and neglect.

The declining population will have a major impact on the economic growth of Botswana.

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How will the country compete with neighboring countries? How will the provision of services and a provision of a variety of goods be impacted? … full cycle where once again the children of single mothers will be most impacted.

Kagiso B. Hawthorne

(Bachelors of Social Work (U.B.), Masters of Education in Counselling (University of Hull, UK), Masters of Science in Special Education (Shenandoah University, USA).

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