People & Culture

Once the pressing need for a unifying national culture was fulfilled, multiculturalism came to be accepted in Botswana. Based on Setswana culture, Botswana’s national culture is representative of the growth of a distinct Botswana nationality defined within state borders, which also absorbs elements of postcolonial English culture. Today, the dominant national culture of Botswana reflects the dual heritage and intermingling of Tswana and English cultural dominions. Nowadays, members of the country’s ruling circles are equally comfortable in both languages, no matter what the member’s regional or ethnic origin and home language are.

Traditional Tswana music was based on the human voice and string instruments, with little to no drumming. But the traditional music and dance began to decline during the last decades of the colonial period, because it was perceived as anti-modern and anti-development. Now there is a revival of interest, with school dance troupes welcoming official visitors, but black South African and imported African-American ‘soul’ music still dominates music on the radio. In the 1970s, there was an emergence of didactic drama to raise popular awareness of development issues. Later, the teaching of music and art in schools was revived to some extent.

Among the leading writers in Botswana are South Africa-born Bessie Head, Barolong Seboni, Unity Dow, Mositi Torontle, Moteane Melamu, Caitlin Davies (born in Britain),

Galesiti Baruti and Andrew Sesinyi. Alexander McCall Smith has used Botswana as a setting for many of his mystery novels. Their chief character, Precious Ramotswe, lives in Gaborone.

The art form of Botswana best known abroad is the traditional craftwork of basketry, most of it from the northwestern part of the country. The National Museum & Art Gallery in Gaborone holds regular exhibitions of local graphic artists, and its annual Artists in Botswana festival every April. Philip Segola, Coex’ae Qgam (Dada), Ann Gollifer, and Neo Matome are some of the well-known artists.

Films and television programs are still at a nascent stage in Botswana. Although no major feature film has been made in Botswana, the US National Geographic Society has releases some wildlife documentaries.

In Botswana, football is the national sport, played on fields and at stadiums across the country every Saturday. Tennis, golf, and softball have also some takers.