Photos of The People of Botswana, Botswana

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The People of Botswana

Almost 80% of the people of Botswana are Batswana (singular: Motswana), divided among different tribes that have their own areas and villages, like the Bangwaketse in the Southern or Ngwaketse District with its capital in Kanye, the Kweneng District (capital Molepolole), home of the Bakwena, the Kgatleng District, homeland of the Bakgatla people with its capital of Mochudi and the Central District, traditional homeland of the Bamangwato people with Serowe as its capital. They speak the National language, Setswana.

Fetching water, Kanye
 
Young boy, Kanye
 
Children, Kanye
 
Women with crying babies, Kanye
 
Small boys, Kanye
 
Shaving the head of her son, Serowe
 
Boys making toy cars, Serowe
 
Young boy, Serowe
 
Girls pounding maize, Francistown
 
Young boy, Maun
 
Herero woman, Maun
 
Herero girls, Maun
 
Little boy from Molepolole
 
Children posing, Kanye
 
Boys with their cars, Kanye
 
Girl collecting water, Moshupa
 
Girl from Moshupa
 
Children of Khudumelapye
 
Boys at a fire, Khudumelapye
 
Two boys, Khudumelapye
 
Boy of Khudumelapye
 
Old Mosarwa woman, Tsesane
 
Mosarwa man, Tsesane
 
Women and children, Tsesane
 
Mosarwa girl, Tsesane
 
Mosarwa woman, Tsesane
 
Mosarwa boy, Tsesane
 
Woman dancing, Tsesane
 
Elderly Mosarwa woman, Matipatsela
 
Mosarwa man, Matipatsela
 

In Maun, on the Okavango Delta in the north west of the country, also live a group of Herero, a traditionally pastoralist people, most of whom live in Namibia with some also in Angola. They originally lived in Botswana but most migrated during the 17th and 18th centuries into what is today Namibia. During the late 19th century, when Germany had colonised South West Africa, conflicts erupted between colonists and Herero herdsman, culminating in whole scale slaughter of Herero by the Germans in 1904 - a deliberate attempt at genocide. Before that time, German missionaries had converted the main Herero group in central Namibia; they abandoned their leather garments and the women adopted the fashions of the German missionary women, clothing they wear until this day. The Herero in Maun may be descended from survivors of the German campaigns; they were left only a way out into the desert and may have made it to the Okavango Delta.

The Kalahari (usually referred to as a desert, but rather a large semi-arid sandy savanna) is the home of a group of people called Bakgalagadi, who speak a language, called Se-Kgalagadi, distinct from standard Setswana but related to it. They make up about 3% of Botswana’s population. “Kgalagadi” means “a waterless place” in Setswana, and is the origin of the word “Kalahari”. They live in villages like Lethlakeng and Khudumelapye, along the road from Molepolole to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. But the original inhabitants, as of most of southern Africa, are the San (or Bushmen) people, who have lived in the Kalahari for 20,000 years as hunter-gatherers, hunting wild game with bows and poisoned arrows and gathering edible plants, like berries, melons and nuts, as well as insects. They got most of their water from plant roots and desert melons found on or under the desert floor, storing water in the blown-out shells of ostrich eggs. Their ancestors, with the Khoi peoples, lived originally all over southern Africa, as numerous caves adorned with “Bushman paintings” prove; speaking languages collectively known as Khoisan, distinguished by the great number of clicks in it, they were gradually driven from more fertile lands by migrating Bantu tribes to the wastes of the Kalahari.

The San, (historically a derogatory term meaning “people picking things up from the ground” are called Basarwa by the Tswana (a term meaning “those who do not rear cattle”), number about 3% of Botswana’s population but gradually have been driven from their lands, forced into farming and into more permanent settlements. One of those was Matipatsela, a few kilometres to the south of Khudumelapye and another, with the same family, Tsesane, about 20 kilometres north west of the village. The people no longer can practice their hunting-gathering life; government programs have been implemented without their participation, missionaries of all stripes have come to convert them; the people at Tsesane and Matipatsela had been converted to the Bahá'í Faith! Since 1997, after large deposits of diamonds were found, the San and Bakgalagadi tribes in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve have been evicted from their land and forcibly relocated onto reservations, where little prospect of employment exists and alcoholism is rampant. An absolute tragedy; in 2006 however, a Botswana High Court ruled in favour of the San and Bakgalagadi tribes in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, claiming their eviction from the reserve was unlawful.