North East District Commissioner, Collen Tubego assured 57 couples who formalised their marriages in a mass ceremony that their unions were as legal as any other marriage.
Tubego was speaking at Tati Siding Kgotla where he solemnized the multiple wedding event last week, which is part of the Re A Nyalana initiative.
The programme, aimed at helping those who cannot afford the cost of marriage give their union legal recognition, was launched in 2011 when the first mass wedding ceremony was held at Bokaa Kgotla in the Kgatleng District.
Re A Nyalana is a non-governmental organisation formed after a Presidential Commission on Social Ills, chaired by Kgosi Puso Gaborone, discovered cohabitation to be a growing problem in Botswana.
The commission also found that partners and children from such relationships were not legally protected and often lose out on inheritance when the other partner dies.
The findings led to the formation of Re A Nyalana Association, which is aimed at educating Batswana to the economic and social disadvantages of cohabiting, as well as encouraging couples to formalise their relationships.
It also helps with costs and organises the mass marriage ceremonies, which have been held in different locations around the country.
Indeed, since the initial ceremony six years ago, close to 4, 000 couples have married under the programme.
“Do not listen to those who talk negatively about your union. They will call you names and label your marriage ‘drought relief’ but do not be bothered. Your marriage is as legal and as holy as those conducted at the District Commissioner’s office or in churches. Ignore those who spite you and make your marriages work,” Tubego told his audience, encouraging them to be faithful to each other.
“This is a special ceremony. Ask those who doubt the value of marriage how many marriages appear on TV. Only special ones do and yours is one of those,” continued Tubego, whose flamboyance and humour lit up the ceremony in which the BTV cameras where in attendance.
Another speaker at the well-attended ceremony, North East District Council Chairperson, Florah Mpetsane called on the newlyweds to work hard at keeping their marriages intact.
“Respect your marriage. Love and cherish each other because marriage is a great institution through which you have gained a life partner to help you through the journey of life. Work hard to make your marriages work because marriage brings dignity to one’s life,” Mpetsane stressed.
For her part, Re A Nyalana coordinator Annah Morwaagale called on the nation to support the programme and show respect and support to those married under the initiative.
She also called on communities to use the programme to help build families and fight cohabiting.