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Celebrating Tswana’s Vibrant Cultural Heritage

For the Tswana group, their culture and heritage are a form of liberation

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Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga is a graduate of Mass Communication and aspiring investigative journalist.

BOTSWANA: The Tswana are a Bantu speaking ethnic group who are native to the North West province of South Africa. These people typically originate from Botswana and some parts of South Africa.

The uniqueness of Tswana culture 

Tswana culture is one of the four predominant cultural groups that mainly consists of black South Africans. Magnificent dancing style, beautiful names, and unique ceremonial processes are some of the things that differentiate Tswana people from other ethnic groups in Africa. 

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The Tswana sub-cultural groups include the Nguni, Sotho-Tswana, Shangaan-Tsonga, and the Venda. Among these groups, Sotho and Nguni have majority of black people.

The Sotho group comprises of South Sotho known as Basduto and Sotho, the West Sotho also called Tswana, and the North Sotho are equally referred to as Pedi.

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Photo Credit: Pexels

History of Tswana culture 

The first pottery in South Africa associated with the Sotho is called Icon and dates to between 1300 and 1500. As with the Nguni, anthropological and linguistic data suggest an East African origin for Sotho-Tswana speakers, in this case in what is now Tanzania.

The Tswana settled in the Western Transvaal in the 16th century. At that time, they were divided into two main groups: the Tlhaping and Rolong. The Tlhaping group was led by Chief Morolong (the ‘metal worker’) and the Rolong group was led by Bafokeng (people of the dew). According to the traditions, Morolong is celebrated as ‘the forger’ who ‘danced to iron’.

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By the 17th century,the Tswana States started growing when the Kwena and Hurutshe migrants founded the Ngwaketse chiefdom among Khalagari-Rolong in south-eastern Botswana. These people were engaged in hunting, cattle raising, and copper production.

The religious belief of the Tswana people 

Tswana people believe in the power of supernatural beings which they refer to as “Modimo”, and ancestors whom they call “Badimo”, they are seen as their creator to which the Tswana people worship and pay allegiance. 

Photo Credit: Pexels

Tswana culture is often distinguished for its complex legal system. Its legal system involves a hierarchy of courts and mediators, and harsh punishments for those found guilty of crime. Tswana’s culture and religious beliefs are quite synonymous to Sotho and other ethnic groups.

Today, barely after a century of achievements, the region has made itself acquainted with the Christian Churches, and other religions, beliefs, and practices. 

Tswana ceremonies

Many ceremonial events are associated with the people of Tswana which are either to celebrate or to mark the end or beginning of a particular thing. This includes marriages, births, bridewealth payment, circumcision, confinement of title, and deaths. 

Photo Credit: Pexels

They also celebrate the commencement of rainfall, the beginning of the farming season, and as well as planting of farm produce. But with the coming of the colonials, some of these ceremonies are no longer in practice. 

Interestingly, some of the prominent ceremonies practiced by the Tswana tribe are cultural clothing known as ‘Tswana cultural clothing’.

Tswana traditional clothes used in different ceremonies are one of the best in the Southern Africa region.

Traditional clothes of Tswana group. Photo Credit: Pexels

Also Read: Indigenous Dance Forms in Nupe Culture


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