As with many civilizations today, the population of Botswana is composed of many different ethnicities. However, the largest majority of the population is known as the Tswana peoples. This group is not homogenous, but is further refined into eight different tribes.
The tribes include the Bakgatla, Bakwena, Balete, Banwato, BaNgwaketse, Barolong, Batwana, Batlokwa Bahurutshe. This group of people makes up approximately 80 percent of the population of Botswana. While the official language spoken in formal situations, such as in the government or educational settings, is English; the language most commonly spoken by the people of Botswana is Setswana. You’ll also find a rich variety of languages other than English and Setswana. Of the 26 other languages spoken in Botswana, a small minority of the population still speak a language composed of clicks that sounds almost as though it’s taken from a movie about aliens. The language spoken by the Bantu peoples of Boswana is Yeyi, and it’s one of the most intricate of the click languages with a large inventory of clicks created in various ways to create unique sounds. The language may be fascinating, but the Botswana people have far more to offer.
Some of the original indigenous peoples of Boswana, the Bushmen, still maintain the historic roles as hunter/gatherers, a tradition that has endured for over 20,000 years. However, the entire nation has not remained stagnant or behind the times. You’ll find a large number of cities with all the amenities you’d expect to discover in any metropolis.
The largest city of Gaborone is the national capital where you’ll find everything from fast food chains you’d see in America to beautiful wildlife reserves where you’d find every type of animal native to the area, including cheetahs, hippos and rhinos.
The country is growing rapidly and toward a more urban society, but farming still plays an important role in society, with the Botswana farmers producing sorghum, beans, maize, millet and livestock for subsistence and sale. While a large majority of people work for the government, the diamond industry has brought many jobs and increased the income of the local population. Still, there are many areas where poverty is rampant.
The Botswana peoples love to celebrate and many hold public celebrations with the men cooking meat to tenderness in a pot and women bringing side dishes. A favorite alcoholic drink at these celebrations is sorghum/maize beer called Chubuku. However, Nyola, a drink created combining commercially sold sorghum powder and warm water, which sits overnight to ferment, is also served Both of these types of alcoholic beverages may be homemade or commercially created. Khadi is also consumed at many of the local celebrations. It’s a home brew created from palm sap, roots, berries, grains, fruits, wild pumpkin or whatever is available. In recent years, the government has been attempting to regulate the creation of this drink as newer additions to the concoction, such as battery acid, have created quite a lethal mixture.
The people of Botswana include a broad spectrum of traditions combined with modern ways. You’ll find those who live the way their ancestors did thousands of years ago, but less than a few hours away, others who are savvy to the most modern technolog and beliefs. You may see houses created by from mud, thatch or wooden poles with skyscrapers of the city in the background. Some will be eating Kentucky fried chicken or fare from a fine dining establishment, while others may subsist on bogobe, a thick porridge or dine on locally grown vegetables and meat, including plane, a caterpillar.