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Tswana people

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Title: Tswana people  
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Subject: Bechuanaland Protectorate, Mangwato tribe, State of Goshen, Botswana, Sotho people
Collection: Tswana
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Tswana people

Depiction of a congregation of Tswana people with David Livingstone, by the London Missionary Society, circa 1900
Regions with significant populations
 Botswana Population of ethnic Tswana is unknown – the last census to solicite ethnicity in Botswana was in 1946 (Tlou, 1985) in two districts – In Ngamiland the ethnic Tswana were half the population of the non-Tswana (7,000 vs 16 000 (Wayeyi alone) (Tlou 1985). In the Central District, the non-Tswana – the Kalanga specifically, were more the than the Tswana. The ethnic Tswana are found in the Southern part of the Country. Walter and Ringenberg (1994) estimated that the non-Tswana make 90% of the Population. RETENG, an organisation which has long advocated for national census to ask ethnicity of citizens without success did an estimate study using the 2001 Population data and estimated that the ethnic Tswana made 17.9% of the population while the non-Tswana made 60%. Since Setswana is medium of instruction in school currently about 78% of the population of Botswana are able to speak Setswana (Central Statistics Office, 2001) with varying levels of competence and comprehension.[1]
 South Africa 4,067,248 (Tswana-speakers)[2]
Tswana language
Christianity, African Traditional Religion.
Related ethnic groups
The Sotho, The Northern Sotho, The Khoisan people
Person Motswana
People Batswana
Language Setswana
Country Botswana

The Tswana (Tswana: Batswana, singular Motswana) are a Bantu speaking Southern African people. The Tswana language belongs to the Bantu group of the Niger–Congo languages. Ethnic Tswana make up about 80% of the population of Botswana.

In the nineteenth century, a common spelling and pronunciation of Batswana was Bechuana. Europeans therefore referred to the area inhabited by the Tswana as Bechuanaland. In the Tswana language, however, Botswana is the name for the country of the Tswana.


  • Dynasties and tribes 1
    • Botswana 1.1
    • South Africa 1.2
    • Elsewhere 1.3
  • Livestock 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Dynasties and tribes


The modern republic of Botswana (formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland) is named for the Tswana people. The country's eight major tribes speak Tswana. All have a traditional Paramount Chief, styled Kgosikgolo, who is entitled to a seat in the Ntlo ya Dikgosi (an advisory body to the country's Parliament). The Tswana dynasties are all related.

The three main branches of the Tswana tribe formed during the 14th century. Three brothers, Kwena, Ngwaketse and Ngwato, broke away from their father, Chief Molope, to establish their own tribes in Molepolole, Kanye and Serowe, probably in response to drought and expanding populations in search of pasture and arable land.[3]

The principal Tswana tribes are the:

South Africa

The largest number of ethnic Tswana people actually live in South Africa. They are one of the larger black minorities, and the Tswana language is one of eleven official languages in South Africa. Until 1994, South African Tswana people were notionally citizens of Bophuthatswana, one of the few bantustans (similar to American Indian reservations) as planned by the Apartheid regime, 1948–1994.

The Chiefs of the following Tswana polities are all styled Kgosi (less lofty then Kgosikgolo):

  • Bafokeng (Rustenburg Area)
    • Bafokeng
    • Bafokeng Ba Ga Motlatla
  • Batlhaping (The fish people, Taung area), split before 1800 into
    • Batlhaping Bagaphuduhudu
    • Batlhaping Bagaphuduhutswane (further split in four, later five, dynastic lines).
    • Batlhaping Ba Ga Maidi
    • Batlhaping Ba Ga Mothibi
  • Batlôkwa (the wild-cat people)
    • Batlôkwa Ba Ga Sedumedi
    • Batlokwa Ba Bogatsu
    • Batlokwa Boo Matlapane
Bechuana hunting the lion, 1841
  • Barolong Barratlou, split into
    • Barolong Barratlou Boomariba (further split in two dynastic lines)
    • Barolong Barratlou Booseitshiro
    • Barolong Barratlou Boomakgobi
    • Barolong Boo Ratlou Ba Ga Phoi
  • Barolong Baseleka
  • Barolong Barrapulana
  • Barolong Boo Ratshidi ( )
  • Barolong Ba Ga Molefe Ba Moata
  • Barolong Ba Ga Makgobi
  • Barolong Boo Lefifi (Nokaneng, Mpumalanga)
  • Barolong Ba Ga Moroka (Putaditjaba in Free-State, SA)
Bechuana of Distinction, 1841
  • Bahurutshe (split before 1800 into two nameless ruling lines, the second of which split again into Bahurutshe ba Boomokgatlha and Bahurutshe Bagamoilwa, and later further split). The name may historically have been written Bahhurutshe.
  • Bahurutshe Ba Ga Mothogae
  • Bahurutshe Ba Ga Gopane
  • Bahurutshe Ba Ga Le-Ncoe
  • Bahurutshe Ba Ga Mokgoswa
  • Bahurutshe Ba Ga Suping
  • Bakgatla, split into
    • Bakgatla Ba Kgafela
    • Bakgatla Ba Mosetlha
    • Bakgatla Ba Mmakau
    • Bakgatla Ba Mocha
    • Bakgatla Ba Seabe (Ga-Seabe, Mpumalanga)
    • Bakgatla Ba Mocheche
    • Bakgatla Ba Ga Mmanaana
  • Bakwena (crocodile people)
    • Bakwena Ba Ga Molopyane
    • Bakwena Ba Mare A Phogole
    • Bakwena Ba Magopa
    • Bakwena Ba Thebe, also known as Bantwane (Ntwane, Former Transvaal now (2006) incorporated into Limpopo. This is mainly a Bangwato splinter group but they lived among Bakgatla and Barolong Ba Moroka of Thabanchu till 1902. Thus the group still have the remains of: Barolong and Bakgatla among them who still identify themselves as such, but at the same time acknowledge the new collective name of Bantwane, meaning Batlhabane)
    • Bakwena Boo Modimosana Ba Ga Mmatau
    • Bakwena Ba Morare (Madikwe)
    • Bakwena Ba Ga Sechele (Molepolole)
  • Batlharo split into: (Kuruman, SA)
    • Batlharo Ba Ga Lotlhware
    • Batlharo Ba Ga Masibi
  • Bapo
  • Bapo Ba Ga Mogale
  • Baphalane Ba Ramokoka
  • Baphalane Ba Mantserre
  • Batlhako Boo Mututu Ba Ga Mabe
  • Baphiring
  • Bataung Ba Moubane
  • Bataung Ba Hlalele
  • Baphuting Ba Ga Nawa
  • Batloung Ba Ga Shole
  • Bakubung Ba Ratheo (Ledig/Patsima, Mankwe, North-West, SA)
  • Bakubung ba ga Marakwana
  • Barokologadi Ba Ga Maotwa (Pitsedisulejang, Madikwe, North-West, SA)
  • Batlhalerwa ba Shongoane (Tweelagte, Moses Kotane Local Municipality, Bojanala District Municipality, North-West, SA)
  • Batlhako (North West, Mabeskraal)
  • Batlhako ba Matutu
  • Batlhako ba Leema



Tswana is also the name of some breeds of animal originating in Botswana.

Tswana (cattle)
The Tswana donkey is used for draught power purposes.


  1. ^ "CIA – The World Factbook". Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  2. ^ "Census in Brief" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  3. ^ "Botswana History". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 

External links

  • Texts on Wikisource:
    • "Bechuana".  
    • "Bechuanas".  
    • "Bechuanas".  
    • "Bechuana".  
    • "Bechuanas".  
  • WorldStatesmen website on political and administrative entities, per present state
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