Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, Botswana means “tswana’s place” in the majority language setswana. The residents are called batswana meaning “tswana people” but the word is also used about the twsana ethnic group. The dual meaning reflects tswana’s dominance in the country, and much of what is typical of the country is actually tswana’s traditions.
Botswana’s democratic rule is considered to have its roots in the tswana community, where the city council – kgotla – is central and regulates much of social life. The City Council is headed by the Chief, but everyone has the right to take action and decisions must be taken unanimously. The word kgotla is sometimes also used for the central place in the village where the meeting is held. Large villages are often divided into smaller departments, which in turn can afford more local issues.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Botswana, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Among tswana, you are greeted by a light handshake, where the hands almost just turn to each other. The right hand is used, while the left hand supports the right elbow. A gift can be presented in the same way, or with both hands.
Many livestock give status
The word pula is heard in public, as a greeting or confirmation of something. Pula is the name of the country’s currency, but it also means rain – and rain is of course valuable in a drought-prone country.
It’s fun to address older people like Rra and Mma – which literally means father and mother. Younger people tend to show older respect by looking down and avoiding eye contact.
Agriculture has a central social and cultural role in Botswana. Livestock has traditionally been more than an economic asset – it also has significance for status and family relationships. A traditional tswana household often had three places of residence: one in the village, one at the family’s land in the village, and one further away where the cattle were located. Today, many Botswans living in the city still have at least one house in their home town.
Basic food is porridge made from cornmeal or sorghum. The porridge is eaten at all times. In the morning, milk or sugar is sometimes added. Later in the day, the porridge is thicker (and then called bogobe), and is usually enjoyed with a side dish of meat or vegetables. Beef is most common, followed by goat. Mopanel larvae – picked from trees and roasted in hot ash – are considered a delicacy in Northern Botswana.
Eating from the same dish
At meals, everyone in the family often eats from the same dish. However, a visitor can expect to get their own plate. At least in the countryside the main goal is in the middle of the day, in the evening you may eat some leftovers or just tea and a sandwich.
Beer made from sorghum (chibuku) is popular and is often brewed at home, but can also be purchased. A stronger honey or sugar-based beverage is khadi.
Particular celebrations are Seretse Khama Day on July 1, when the country’s first president is honored, President’s Day in connection with the third weekend in July, and Botswana Day on September 30, when independence is celebrated.
According to Countryaah, other non-religious holidays are New Year and May 1st. The Christian holidays that are national holidays in Botswana are Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, Christmas Day and Christmas Day.
Nutane becomes opposition leader
As the newly formed BMD has attracted several parliamentarians from the BDP and is now the largest opposition party in the National Assembly, party member Botsalo Ntuane is appointed official opposition leader.
Human rights group boycott diamond purchases
The human rights group Survival International calls for a boycott of diamonds from Botswana, and accuses the government of forcing bushmen from their lands.
Prosecution is brought against the Minister of Defense
Defense Minister Ramadeluka Seretse is forced to resign. He is then charged with corruption. According to prosecutors, Seretse Han has concealed that he owns shares in a company – owned by his wife – that secured a very large defense contract the year before.
New party success
The jumps from the BDP (see March 2010) form a new part of the Botswana Democracy Movement (BMD). When the party is registered in June, seven MPs from the BDP and the only independent member of parliament join. Two of the party exchanges they regret and go back to the BDP, but with six mandates, BMD becomes as large as the country’s traditionally largest opposition party BNF (see Political system).
Divisions within the ruling party
Several members of the so-called Baratha-Pathi faction resign from the BDP government party and announce their intention to form a new party. They accuse President Khama of breaking the party statutes by his way of concentrating power on the presidential post. They are also critical of the handling of the party’s former secretary general Motswaledi (see September 2009).
Immigration teams should stop paperless
A new immigration law is being adopted in an attempt to stop the flow of paperless migrants from Zimbabwe.