If you have been in Botswana, then we bet you have heard of the Tswana culture. It is one of the most dominant tribes in this nation and is well known for its unique characteristics. Perhaps the unique feature of this culture is the Setswana food and cuisine. The food is tantalizing and will leave you yearning for more traditional foods and drinks. Besides that, the Tswana traditional dresses, mostly worn during the Tswana wedding, will leave you admiring and yearning to learn Tswana.
Batswana culture is a significant aspect of Botswana history. Since the tribe has tripled over the years, making them a substantial population in the country, it is only right to understand the Tswana culture.
Who makes up the Tswana culture?
There are four important ethnic groups in the Black South Africans, which include the Nguni, the Sotho-Tswana, Shangaan-Tsonga, and the Venda. The Sotho and the Nguni make up the more significant percentage of the Black population. The primary Sotho groups include the South Sotho (Basduto and Sotho), the West Sotho (Tswana), and the North Sotho (Pedi).
The Tswana people are a Bantu-speaking ethnic group that resides in the southern part of Africa. They are mostly found in Botswana. The ethnic group is the native people of Botswana and spread to the North West province of South Africa, where most of the Tswana live. They are popular in the country due to their Tswana dance, their unique Setswana names, and the gorgeous Tswana wedding dresses.
Language of the Tswana ethnic group
The Tswana or the Batswana are sometimes referred to as the Western Sotho. The Tswana language is the Setswana, which is closely related to the seSotho.
The emergence of the nation
Given the large percentage of the Setswana culture, majority of the individuals often want to know the Tswana tradition and various aspects of their roots such as the Tswana traditional dance, the Tswana traditional food, and the Tswana traditional attire. The history of this pre-dominant tribe goes back to the eighteenth century. Most people who lived more than two thousand years ago are believed to have been Bushmen. They were often herders and agriculturalists.
Around the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the polities of this tribe, under the reign of the chiefs moved into Botswana from the south and the east. Some of them were responding to the emergence of the Zulu state and the European coloners. In 1816, missionization of this ethnic tribe began. It led to the Tswana polities embracing the migrant labour economy, which was centered in South Africa, trade, and Christianity. In 1885, the British declared the area the Bechuanaland Protectorate, making three Tswana kings visit Britain in 1895.
During the visit, the kings petitioned to remain under the rule of the British, rather than be governed by the British South Africa Company. The administration of the British strengthened the role of the Tswana chiefs, leading to the dominance of the Tswana laws and customs throughout the country.
Religious beliefs of the Tswana
During the pre-colonial era, most of the Batswana believed in a supreme being by the name Modimo. Modimo was thought to be a creator and director who was distant and remote. Despite believing in a supreme being, this ethnic group also believed in the ancestors, also known as the Badimo. The Badimo had a significant influence on the daily activities of the members of the tribe, and therefore, appeals to them were made with sacrifices, prayers, and appropriate behavior.
However, in the early nineteen century, the missionaries arrived in the region with the Batswana. They brought about education, Christianity, schools, and the western values in the tribe. Today, most of the Batswana belong to the African Independent Churches, which embrace the Christian and non-Christian beliefs, myths, and practices.
Besides the attractive African traditional attire of the tribe, which is commonly known as the Tswana traditional wear, this ethnic community also captures the attention of others with their food. One of the most popular types of food in this culture is Bogobe. Bogobe is a type of porridge, which is made from sorghum or millet. Another favorite food that is sorghum porridge is Ting. Bogobe jwa Logala/Sengana is another famous dish which is a traditional Setswana dish that is prepared from sorghum porridge and then mixed or cooked with milk.
One food that is very familiar to many is the Seswaa. It is the national dish in Botswana. It is frequently served at weddings, funerals, and other celebrations. Seswaa is a pounded or shredded meat, which is often served alongside Bogobe. Another trademark food of this tribe is Madila. Madila refers to sour cultured milk, which is prepared from goat and cow milk, for a specified period until which the milk matures for consumption. It was prepared traditionally using a Lekuka, which is a leather sack or bag.
There are very many ceremonies held by this tribe to celebrate or mark certain lifecycle events. Some of these events include birth, marriages, bride-wealth payment, circumcision, confinement, and even death. There were also other ceremonies held tied to the agricultural cycle such as those to make rain, to initiate planting, and the rituals for first-fruits. However, these agrarian ceremonies are no longer practiced regularly like before.
Perhaps the most iconic part of the ceremonies is the Tswana culture clothing. Since the Southern part of Africa is well known for its South African traditional dresses, this ethnic group does not disappoint with its Tswana traditional dress. There are various dresses for different occasions. Most people long for the Tswana traditional wedding ceremony since it gives one the chance to have a glance of the Tswana traditional wedding dresses. Precisely, these are among the best South African traditional clothes one can have.
Besides the Swazi culture in South Africa, the Tswana culture is also another admirable culture in the southern part of Africa. Due to this popularity, most people visiting Africa often tend to visit the beautiful country of Botswana, to enjoy the culture of the Batswana.