Driving from work one evening, I noticed a few middle-aged women pushing branded shopping trolleys loaded with stock and equipment on the hard shoulder of the road that leads to the Old Naledi rail crossing from Game city.
It is a common sight in these parts and while I used to frown upon these seemingly guilt-free practices, on this particular evening, I couldn’t bring myself to pass judgment on the saleswomen because although unethical behaviour is absolutely reprehensible and certainly damnable, I accepted, in that moment, that for those on the margins of society, survival instincts – and not natural law – are the order of the day.
So, In light of recent widely reported incidents of suicides, drug trafficking, heists and other crimes that sparked debates across social media, where many argued that the real cause of rising crime is unemployment, Voice Woman speaks to 3 unemployed youths on the pain of joblessness and the potential disasters resulting from societal and peer pressure.
Thelma Banyana Molome, 26, Mahalapye
Yes, I feel a whole lot of pressure as I’m currently doing nothing to survive.
I was planning to venture into business but business needs capital, which I currently don’t have.
I worked as a Health and Safety Officer on contract in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Gaborone DHMT.
My contract ended last year, August, and we were told that our contracts would be renewed.
Even up to now, there’s no word from the ministry; these last seven months have been hell because I have rent and bills to pay.
Jobs are scarce, I applied and am still applying for jobs but to no avail. Sometimes I feel like taking my life to end it all.
It pains me to always ask for money and help from people because they feel like you’re burdening them with your problems.
Some even go to the extent of thinking that you don’t want to work or you are not looking for a job.
Michelle Gaborekwe, 22, Mochudi
I have been unemployed since 2018. Look, my parents expect me to be working or engaged in some income generating activity and that, of course, is a huge amount of pressure!
The youth of this country are unhappy because of the stark reality of economic hardships caused by joblessness.
The wealth of this country is in the hands of foreign investors, and that makes me sad.
The Covid-19 pandemic has uncovered the inequalities in our society.
People can no longer endure unemployment and this is a sign that our generation will be rebellious towards the leadership of this country if they continue to ignore our situation.
I have observed that our government has failed to commit to its promises.
Good leadership is seen in the state of its nation, it has to have the best interests of people at heart.
One wonders why the continent/country has the richest resources yet is unable to satisfy the needs of its people.
Our government talks FDI all the time yet they forget that the very investors they are luring into the country are only here for their own benefit hence they take advantage of government’s weak policies to maximise profits.
We are in the fourth industrial revolution, many people are unemployed because machines and artificial intelligence have taken over yet government has done very little to combat this.
They need to shift their focus from academic to vocational education and also invest heavily in the arts and innovation to boost the youth’s financial strength – but there’s lack of support and infrastructure; they forget that not everyone is academically brilliant.
Gofaone Botsang, 29, Francistown
I graduated from GUC in 2020 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Occupational Health and Safety.
I am currently studying a few courses online under Coursera; I have a total of 6 certificates.
I applied for financial aid, which was approved. I advise fellow youth to study under Coursera since it provides financial aid.
I struggle a bit with data bundles and a laptop but I keep pushing. Studying makes me happy and it reduces my stress levels.
Honestly, I felt the effects of joblessness right from 2020, being unable to help in the family weighed heavily on me.
I have two children whose father hasn’t been helping much; he would go months without sending money and, when he does, it is so little.
All I can say is that it’s hard for us graduates; we apply for any job and internships, but there are no vacancies, especially in Francistown where I’m based.
Society is degrading us; you will hear people say, “Gatwe o na le degree mme o ntse haatshe o tshwana le ba ba sa tsenang sekolo. O ne a ithaya a re ke mang a ya skolong? Ke yo ga bereke.”
You might be tempted to do abominable things because of the pressure society places on you, or become suicidal.
There were times I would be so close to choosing prostitution in order to provide for my kids but I would kneel down and ask God to guide me.
Currently, low paid menial jobs, like laundry, put food on the table.
I can go months without toiletry and I just keep asking God not to forget me; it’s a dark and lonely road that needs a lot of emotional and financial support.
The few piece jobs I get help though sometimes I miss out on interviews due to lack of money.
I walk with my head held high, knowing one day God will provide and I will be capable of achieving the goals I set for myself. Prayer has kept me sane.
I’ve lost interest in dating because I feel like I’ll be a burden. My parents have been supportive.
I have siblings and they know the struggle I’m facing, not forgetting my close friends who know my battle with depression, which started in 2017.
I was in an abusive relationship – emotionally and physically – which left me broken. Some days are hard, I relapse, but other days are better.
If you are not strong enough to withstand the bashing and emotional abuse, you will be depressed till you kill yourself.
It’s better to ignore the pressure society piles on you, rather kneel down and cry unto God he will definitely fight for you.
Restoring psychological wellbeing
Apply the 3 basic needs of life, which are healthy:
Thoughts – you are what you think because neurons that wire together, fire together. Your brain is there to support you in what you believe about yourself.
Eating habits – nutrients are essential for keeping your brain fuelled, and your body functioning optimally.
Fitness – exercise encourages an increase of specific proteins in the brain.
These in turn release substances that support one’s ability to learn and/or remember information.
Tackling depression and overcoming despair
Sleep – a healthy sleep/wake pattern goes a long way.
The body needs adequate rest in order for the brain to function effectively. For example, acetylcholine gathers information when you are awake and sends it for further processing while you sleep.
Talk – telling someone you trust and know cares about you, goes a long way. What is not communicated has a way of eating at one’s soul, but loses power when it’s released in a safe space.
A ‘feel good’ conversation can trigger oxcytocin, endorphins, dopamine etc that give a great sense of well-being.
Exercise – this leads to the release of endorphins and dopamine that block pain and increase pleasure, while supporting cognitive function. Sweeping the yard goes a long way.
Opting out of criminal acts and erosion of morality
Setswana says, ‘Motho o a ikaga’. There are plenty of circumstances in life that can push one in the direction of a quick-fix that does not require delayed gratification.
However, biting your tongue and attempting the more conventional pathway away from peer pressure could be a salvation in the long run.
Dr Tiroyaone MH Brombacher is a Psychoneuroimmunologist and Managing Director of Heart4Brain Cognitive Therapy Center (WhatsApp 72830998)