WHO ARE THE OPPRESSORS ?
The Tswana - and their western corporate
The Tswanas are a tribe who
migrated from Central/East Africa to southern Africa during the 14th
century. The origin of the name ĹTswanaĺ is a mystery, but is applied to a
number of groups who all speak the same language, have similar customs, but
The Tswana migrated into central
southern Africa in the 14th century. Tswana is also the
language spoken by the Batswana people. This is a group of tribes of
Bantu origin, making up a significant part of the population of the country of
Botswana. Tswana is a Bantu language of Niger-Congo origin and
alternatively called also CHUANA, COANA, CUANA, SETSWANA, SECHUANA, BEETJUANS.
It is one of the national languages of Botswana, where it is spoken by over
1,000,000. It is also spoken by nearly 3,000,000 in the country of South
Africa and by lesser numbers in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Tswana (singular moTswana or Motswana, plural baTswana
or Batswana) is the name of these people, and of its Bantu language. In
the 19th century, a common spelling and pronunciation was Bechuana, and
the area where they lived was known as Bechuanaland. The
Tswana today comprise several groupings, the most important of which,
numerically speaking, are the Hurutshe, Kgatla, Kwena, Rolong, Tlhaping, and
Tlokwa. They numbered about four million at the turn of the 21st century.
As herders and cultivators the Tswana found the high plains to their liking,
because the grass was excellent for cattle, there were no serious endemic
livestock diseases and the soil was deep and easy to cultivate. Sorghum, beans,
pumpkins, sweet melons and gourds were planted, and the Tswana found that
maize, introduced by the Portuguese into the country, was also highly
The origin of the name
ĹTswanaĺ is a mystery. It is applied to a number of groups who all speak
the same Bantu language, have similar customs, but separate names. None of
them ever knew themselves as the Tswana. As with several other people in South
Africa, their name was given by foreigners. The meaning is unknown.
The history of the Tswana people
is one of continual dissension and fission where disputes, sometimes over
chieftain ascendancy, resulted in a section of the tribe breaking away from
the main tribe, under the leadership of a dissatisfied chief's relative, and
settling elsewhere. Often the name of the man who led the splinter group was
taken as the new tribe's name.
Today there are 59 different
groups in South Africa who now accept the overall name of Tswana. About
three-fourths of the Tswana people live in South Africa. Only about one-fourth
live in Botswana, the country named after them.
The modern republic of Botswana,
formerly known as the colony of (British) Bechuanaland, is named after this
people (Bantu languages often use prefixes, in this case bo-, for grammatical
flexions and for word derivations, rather then endings and suffixes as is more
usual in Indo-European languages).
Seven of the country's eight
'major' tribes (the only exception being the baMalete or Balete) are Tswana,
and still have a traditional Paramount Chief styled Kg˘sikgolo and
entitled to a seat in the House
of chiefs, all dynasties being related (some have known splits in two or
three competing lines), all but one in officially recognized tribal reserves :
created in 1935)
baKwŕna (reserve created
created in 1899)
created in 1899)
Ngamiland created in 1899)
baTl˘kwa (reserve created
baKgatla (no reserve).
As the Batswana constitute the
majority population of Botswana,
the word is also sometimes used to cover all citizens of Botswana, i.e.
including other tribes, such as various Khoisan.
South Africa and homeland (bantustan)
The largest number of baTswana
live in South
Africa, were they are one of the larger black minorities whose language is
official status. Until 1994 they were notionally citizens of Bophuthatswana,
one of the few bantustans
that actually became reality as planned by the Apartheid regime.
The Tswana are closely related to
the Sotho (of Lesotho and South Africa). The Sotho-Tswana are bonded in
language and customs. They claim a common ancestor, Mogale. They share an
agrarian culture, social structures, political organization, religious and
magical beliefs and also a family life.
All the Sotho and Tswana languages
are inherently intelligible, but for political and historical reasons, they
have generally been considered as three languages. The larger sub-tribes are
often considered as separate tribes with their separate languages. Tswana,
also known as Setswana, is a Bantu language. Tswana is the national and
majority language of Botswana, whose people are the Batswana (singular
Motswana). The majority of Tswana speakers are in South Africa (where it is an
official language), but there are also speakers in Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Internationally there are about 4 million speakers. Before South Africa became
a multi-racial democracy, the bantustan of Bophuthatswana was set up to cover
the Tswana speakers of South Africa.
Setswana is a Bantu language, belonging to the Niger-Congo language family. It
is most closely related to two other languages in the Sotho language group,
Sesotho (Southern Sotho) and Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa). It has also
been known as Beetjuans, Chuana (hence Bechuanaland), Coana, Cuana, and
Traditional Tswana society
included men, women, children and "badimo" (ancestors, living dead,
having metaphysical powers). A Tswana does not think in terms of individual
rights, but of responsibilities to his family and tribe. The father is to be
obeyed and respected by his wife and children at all times.
The Sotho-Tswana are organized by
lineages, which developed as the tribe grew. The lineages are organized in
subunits and communities. Every level exhibits the same social organization,
such as the Kgotla, the traditional court, with various officials assigned
various duties in the social structure at each level. In traditional Tswana
religion (tribal animism) "Modimo" is the great God, or "The
Great Spirit." But the christian churches have today a strong hand on all
the Tswana communities. The Bible translation into Tswana started in 1857 and
was concluded in 1993.
Because of the fact that job
availability in Botswana is changing from rural to urban, many Tswanas are
leaving the villages and are not returning. Thus the Tswana are fast becoming
a modern secular society, in Botswana as well as South Africa. The rich Tswana
upperclass, who is at the forefront of oppressing the peoples living their
traditional live, derived their wealth from diamond deals and cattle as well
as from European Union funding. Tourism (incl. significant sex-tourism mainly
during the days of the Apartheid regime) was and is a backbone of the economic
development for the ruling strata of todays mainstream society in Botswana. In
collaboration with western enterprises and often through middlemen in South
Africa the economic ventures of the ruling elite are vastly diversified, while
the UN human development report 2005 states that Botswana is lagging behind in
human development in a world in which inequalities are a barrier to growth
Sources: compilation from various encyclopaedia and various broad and