Discover Tswana

Tswana, also known as Setswana, is a Bantu language from the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by roughly 8 million people in Botswana and South Africa.

Main Communities

Gaborone, Botswana and Mmabatho, South Africa

Tswana Names and Their Meanings:

  • Kitso - knowledge
  • Modiegi - chosen one
  • Amogelang - receive or accept
  • Dineo - gift
  • Motswane - good
  • Kgosi - king or chief

Staple Food

Mopane Worms: These large caterpillars are a traditional delicacy among the Tswana people. They come from the mopane trees found in the savanah regions. Mopane worms are dried and then fried or cooked in various ways. They are rich in protein.

Culture and Traditions

Morabaraba - this traditional Tswana board game requires two players. This strategy game is played on a checkerboard with 12 pieces per player. Morabaraba is a favorite past time and also a means of community bonding.

Letsema - an ancient practice that still exists today, Letsema literally means “voluntarily working together.” It originated when most people were farmers and needed additional help to increase crop production for survival. Community members would work together to sow, plough, and till the land. Today the South African government has adopted the word letsema to encourage its citizens in volunteerism.

Notable figures:

Amantle Montsho - athlete. She specializes in track and field and is best known for her success in the 400-meter event. Montsho has represented Botswana at numerous international competitions, including the Olympic Games and the World Championships. In 2011, she became the first athlete from Botswana to win a gold medal at the World Championships in Athletics.

Festus Mogae - President. He served as the third President of Botswana from 1998 to 2008. Mogae is credited with maintaining Botswana's reputation for good governance, economic stability, and proper management of its diamond resources. In 2008, he was  awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership for his dedication to HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment.

Vee Mampeezy - musician. He is known for his contributions to the Afro-pop and Kwaito music genres. Mampeezy is recognized as one of the leading figures in Botswana's music industry. He has won multiple awards for his music, including several Botswana Music Awards.