The Tswana People

1953 words 8 pages
The Tswana People
Tswana is the name applied to a number of groups who all speak the same language and share similar customs but have separate names. Tswana are defined as a member of the Bantu people inhabiting Botswana, western South Africa, and neighboring areas. They are also called Batswana or Bechuana. The language Tswana is defined as the Sotho language of the Tswana people and is a Bantu language. It may also be referred to as Setswana or Sechuana, and it was the first Sotho language written to have a written form. The principal Tswana clans are the: Barôlông, Bakwêna, Bangwaketse, Bamangwato, Batawana, Batlôkwa, Bakgatla, and Balete. None of these people ever knew themselves as the Tswana because foreigners gave them this
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Individual chiefdoms comprised a number of sociopolitical units, the smallest of which was the family household. This consisted of a man, his wives, and dependent children. Traditional housing is the rondavel, in which the walls are made of cow dung and mud and the roof is of thatch. If stone was available, stonewalls were erected to separate family homesteads. Several households would be linked together patrilineally through a common male ancestor and situated close together within the same village, forming a family group. This group was presided over by a male elder and was concerned with such domestic matters as marriage negotiations, the organization of feasts, and the division of an estate. Further, a number of these family groups made up a ward that was a distinct administrative unit, occupying its own separate part of a village and headed by a hereditary headman. Each ward also possessed its own grazing and cultivating areas.
Ultimate authority among the Tswana was centered in the chief. He possessed supreme executive, legislative, and judicial power. He was commander in chief of the army and presided over the main religious and magical ceremonies. He also regulated the allocation of land, the annual cycle of agricultural tasks, external trade, and other economic activities. The chief was perceived to be endowed with supernatural qualities and was


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