Botswana

Botswana

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Country:

Botswana

Brief history and cultural background of the country:

The history of Botswana starts more than 100,000 years ago as the original inhabitants of southern Africa were the Bushmen (San) and Khoi peoples.

Previously known as Bechuanaland, Botswana was a colony of the United Kingdom from 31st March 1885 until 30th September 1966.

Since its independence, it has been a republic, with three branches: The legislative, Judicial and Executive branches which make up the government. 

The landlocked Southern African country lies on a territory of 581,730 sq km with population of 2 million people as the capital city - Gaborone is home to about 10% of the total population of Botswana. Other big cities are Francistown, Molepolole, Selebi-Phikwe and Maun which is the "tourism capital" of Botswana. The large tourist flow contributes to enriching the culture of youth and developing the arts in the region of Maun.

 

The official language of Botswana is English although Setswana is widely spoken across the country, supplemented by Kalanga, Wayei, Sekgalagadi, Seherero and Sesubiya. The major religions are Christianity and indigenous beliefs.

Education in Botswana is free for the first 10 years, which completes the cycle through middle school. Secondary education is neither free nor compulsory. Even though, since the country independence in 1966 when there were very few graduates in the country and only a very small percentage of the population attended secondary school, nowadays the adult literacy rate have increased from 69% in 1991 to 83% in 2008.

Singing, dancing storytelling, crafting and performing art as a whole are important parts of the Botswanan culture. Each one of the many ethnic cultures in Botswana has its own heritage of myths, legends, rituals, values and traditional artistic norms. However, the overlapping similarities between the different components create a homogenous culture, giving a rich and colorful patchwork of the diverse whole.

Popular / Internationally Recognized resources

Botswana is most famous for its wildlife and natural resources

Geographic Landmarks:

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve
  • Location: Kalahari desert of Botswana, Ghanzi District
  • Type –Biggest national park in Botswana and second in the world.
  • Chobe National Park
  • Location: Northern Botswana, Chobe district
  • Type – Botswana’s first national park having the world's largest concentration of African elephants.
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Location: Eastern side of the Okavango Delta
  • Type - designated as a Game Reserve in order the BaSarwa or Bushmen that lived there to be allowed to stay in the reserve.

Historical Heritage:

  • Old Palapye
  • Location: Eastern Botswana, within the Tswapong region.
  • Type – the first settlement to be established as a city in Botswana in the 19th century
  • Background – Old Palapye was established by Khama III and was destined to be the capital of Bamangwato people in 1889. When Khama III arrived to establish the capital at Old Palapye he encountered a small group of Batswapong people at Dekgopheng who resisted the occupation, but he demanded and prevailed in moving them to Motlhabaneng on the southern edges of Malaka. And this signaled the beginning of the integration of Batswapong people into the Bamangwato.

International events:

  • Botswana Travel & Tourism Expo
  • Location: Seboba Nature & Recreational Park, Kasane, Botswana
  • Started from: Annually, in December
  • Global Expo Botswana
  • Location: Gaborone
  • Started from: Annually, dates differ

Snapshot of the main challenges of the country

Healthcare

Access to quality healthcare is an issue mainly because of the sparse distribution of Botswana’s population.

Like elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, the economic impact of AIDS is considerable. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 21.9 % for adults aged 15–49 in 2013 which places Botswana at the third highest disease prevalence in the world.

Poverty and employment

About a third of the population lives below the national poverty line. Unemployment, estimated at 26.2% of the labor force in 2008 is quite high, especially amongst the youth. Furthermore, a significant proportion of the population, 19%, depends on welfare scheme. These factors suggest that Botswana’s “… poor are locked into structural poverty and increasing dependence on state support” (Ministry of Local Government, 2010).

Environmental problems

Botswana faces two major environmental problems: drought and desertification. Surface water is scarce in Botswana and less than 5% of the agriculture in the country is sustainable by rainfall. In the remaining 95% of the country, raising livestock is the primary source of rural income.  Approximately 71% of the country's land is used for communal grazing, which has been a major cause of the desertification and soil erosion. Three quarters of the country's human and animal populations depend on groundwater due to drought but groundwater use through deep borehole drilling has somewhat eased the effects of drought.

Snapshot of the main potential fields for growth, employment and tackle of social problems

Agriculture provides a livelihood for more than 80% of the Botswana population but supplies only about 50% of food needs and accounts for only 3% of GDP. Tourism is an increasingly important industry in Botswana, accounting for almost 12% of GDP.

According to the CIA World Factbook, diamond activities contribute to 38 percent of national GDP, generate nearly 80 percent of export income and 50 percent of government revenue (CIA World Factbook).

Overall, the Eco-tourism, financial and support services, outsourced business process ventures and manufacturing, along with mining and exporting coal are all promising areas of growth.

Traditional Cultural Characteristics and Art forms

The visual art of Botswana has varied among different ethnic group and throughout history. Historically it has fallen into two main categories: that of the !Kung people (also known as the San people or the Bushmen tribes) and that of the Nguni-derived peoples such as the Batswana.

The traditional craft work include basketry, pottery, weaving, wood and bone carving, leatherwork, jewelry-making.

Botswana traditional music is mostly vocal and performed, sometimes without drums depending on the occasion; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Botswana folk music has instruments such as Setinkane (a Botswana version of miniature piano), Segankure/Segaba (a Botswana version of the Chinese instrument Erhu), Moropa (Meropa -plural) (a Botswana version of the many varieties of drums), phala (a Botswana version of a whistle used mostly during celebrations, which comes in a variety of forms). Botswana cultural musical instruments are not confined only to the strings or drums. The hands are used as musical instruments too, by either clapping them together or against phathisi (goat skin turned inside out wrapped around the calf area; it is only used by men) to create music and rhythm.

Form of Arts popular among the young people

Craftwork is still popular among young people as nowadays the art industry thrives in the production of items for tourist consumption.

Other forms of Arts popular among the young generation are Drama, Dikhwaere (Traditional choir competitions), Flea Markets,Hand Crafts, Slamming, Spoken word poetry, Music Festivals, Gaming Studio( IAM74 Gaming Studio)Hip hop, Motswako (a mixture of English and Setswana hiphop) and Native/Local instruments