The Return of Husbands: Of Male Labour Returnees and Women in Botswana c.1970 to Present


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


International Studies Group


This project will analyse the shifting positions and responsibilities on Botswana society that occur when husbands returned to their families permanently after a period of labour migration. Being a patriarchal society, the protracted absence and subsequent return of ‘husbands’ has impact on the configuration of communities as well as the division of labour in Botswana. As historiography proved, when husbands were absent, in most cases wives became family heads. This involved adopting responsibilities normally reserved for the husband in patriarchal societies. As such this research elucidates the impact of the return of long-term labour migrants (husbands) on women’s position in the family and society. It will examine how women’s decision-making powers are affected by the presence of the returned husband, assess which rights and responsibilities women had to give up due to the return of the husband.