BOTSWANA TRAVEL: LOCAL PEOPLE & CULTURES

Facts on Botswana's population, including the San Bushmen and their unique rock art legacy.
Botswana

« BOTSWANA - POPULATION & CULTURE »


Population | Culture & Traditions | Bushman Rockart

Government, Symbols & Currency | National Anthem | Water | Diamonds & Mining
Agriculture | Wildlife & Conservation | Access & Travel | Visa Requirements | Border Posts | Distances & Travelling times via Road | Air Charters | Malaria | Safari Packing List | Photography | Photographic Packing List | Night Skies

POPULATION

Due to a very small population, Botswana has had the ability to designate a large percentage of its surface area to wildlife. To obtain some sort of idea as to the size of Botswana (581 730 square kilometres) it can be compared to France or Texas.


CULTURE & TRADITIONS
Back to Top of Page

Man-made stone tools, some over 300 000 years old, have been found throughout the country, suggesting the whole land has been inhabited sporadically for a very long time.

To the people of Botswana, the preservation of the different tribal cultures are of great importance, it gives the nation pride and is considered to be the root of their existence. Based on this, different peoples have different stories concerning their origins.

 

The cultural life in Botswana reflects the dual heritage and intermingling of Tswana and English cultural domination.

Western dress has been general among the countries people since the late 19th century.

The most common diet amongst the people of Botswana would include meat of some sort accompanied with sorghum, corn porridge, beans or traditional spinach.

Traditional foods include mopane worms (caterpillars from mopane woodland), morula fruits and beer made from sorghum and millet.

The best-known modern art form incorporating traditional craftwork is basketry.

Most of the basketry is done in the northwest part of the country.

Rites of burial, marriage and birth have been adapted to Christianity buy remain extremely important in Botswana life.

Traditional living compounds would comprise two or three small houses set around an open fireplace.

These small houses will usually be constructed with clay and have thatched roofs.

Within the Okavango Delta many traditional houses are still made with reeds.

Traditional music and dance almost became extinct during the colonial period, however after independence there has been a revival.

ROCK ART
Back to Top of Page

Savute apart from game viewing also boast some special rock paintings. The rock paintings date back to the stone age/iron age period and are the only recorded paintings between Tsodilo Hills in the west and Zimbabwe.

The presences of the Savute rock paintings give indication of the presence of human activity on the banks of the Savute channel for thousands of years. The rock paintings at Savute clearly show an elephant and an eland.

BUSHMAN
Back to Top of Page

Apart from the River Bushman who are happy living in the Okavango and have been for thousands of years, other African groups were apprehensive of the delta mainly because it was a hostile area for
raising cattle.

The first settlers to arrive in the Okavango after the Bushman, were the BaYei, who came from the north. This tribe brought with them relatively advanced water technology, such as "Mokoro" and
fishing techniques.

Later on saw the arrival of the HaMbukushu people also from the north, who bought Iron Age technology with them. These people were considered expert ironsmiths.

The first River Bushman, the BaYei encountered were the "BaKakhwe". This meeting lead to the marriage of the BaYei chief with a BaBakhwe woman. It is from this liaison that the two tribes consider one another 'cousins'. It is interesting to note that the Khwai River Bushman living in the Khwai village, are BaBakhwe.

The BaTawana (a Tswana-aligned group) only arrived in the 19th century from the south. They were a unified and highly organised society that brought with them a relatively advanced trading and
economic system.

Over a period of 100 years the BaTawana established a national state in Ngamiland, with the River Bushman occupying the bottom rung of the social ladder.

There are fewer than 400 genuine Khwai River Bushmen left in Northern Botswana.

The south-western parts of Botswana are home to the last of the Khoisan people (bushman).

The Khoisan speak languages that are characterized as Khoe, Khwe and San.

These languages have the very distinctive tongue clicking sounds.

The Khoisan are regarded as the masters in the art of tracking animal spoor.

This art has been passed down from generation to generation, as the early ancestors of these people were incredibly dependent on their ability to read the signs of nature.

Because the Khoisan were originally hunter-gatherers, literally living of the land in some of the most inhospitable areas. There knowledge in the art of tracking thus ensured their survival.


Population | Culture & Traditions | Bushman Rockart

Government, Symbols & Currency | National Anthem | Water | Diamonds & Mining
Agriculture | Wildlife & Conservation | Access & Travel | Visa Requirements | Border Posts | Distances & Travelling times via Road | Air Charters | Malaria | Safari Packing List | Photography | Photographic Packing List | Night Skies