Customs and traditions
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
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
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.
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 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
Immigration teams should stop paperless
A new immigration law is being adopted in an attempt
to stop the flow of paperless migrants from Zimbabwe.