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About Botswana

Interesting tid bits of Information about our new country…

There is much detailed formal information about historical and current Botswana. Most of it has been edited, reviewed and spell checked. Several links are provided at the end of this more personal description of Botswana as it is experienced by Carol and John Mark.   We will update this page as our experience and insights change.

Basic factual information:

• Established independence in 1966 from the United Kingdom.

• Population: 1.8 Million

• Primary Economic Resources: Diamonds, Safari’s, Cattle Exports

• Primary Religion: Christian

• Official Languages: Setswana, English

Children seem to be much more active here. Many children are out and about riding bicycles, running, laughing and always seeing if they can practice their English.

All basic foods that are in America are here. The same amount of fruits and vegetables are in all the markets. Different foods we have tried and their ratings: Goat Chops – Four stars for flavor, but a bit tougher than lamb Sorghum – one star unless it has good sauce, then it can go up to four stars.

There are a lot of dirt paths used regularly to get from place to place. But there are also cars and roads and at least one major interstate highway.

The  Botswana flag is interesting.  The background is mainly blue which represents water, which is precious in this dry country.  The black and white stripes represent the black and white people in the country living in harmony.

Botswana is the name of the country.  Motswana is one person from Botswana, the plural is Batswana.

The Setswana language is fascinating.  It seems far more complicated than English.  Like many other languages, it contains many words “borrowed” from other languages, including English.

Some of these words are:

  • Bus               Dibuse
  • Bank             Banka
  • Book             Buka
  • Computer    Komputara

Additionally, some words in Setswana are rather humorous when translated literally such as:

-A Car is Sejanaga which means  “That which eats the Veldt”.

-The wall around a house is called a “Stopnonsense”.

-A Phone is Mogala which means “Rope/String” and

-A Cell Phone is Mogala ya letheka which means “ropes/strings of the waist”.

Mmegi newspaper wrote “What the colonialists did not know was that Batswana believed that “ntwa Kgolo ke ya molomo” or “The great war is of the month”.  (24/11/06)

I take that to mean the language grew out of their peacefulness.  It is truly a compelling reason to learn the language.

White people are called “Lekgoa” in Setswana. While not derogatory children often yell it at us as we walk by. I am told the literal translation is “Vomit from the sea’

Most homes in our Village of Kanye have a large yard around them that is 99% sand and small rocks with some small gardens and other ornamental landscaping.  It seems that most people go out every morning and rake the sandy rocks in a nice, strait, even fashion.  This makes for very “neat” yards!  It also insures creatures such as snakes will have less reason to hang out in your yard.

Many homes are set up like compounds with a main house and then several little buildings around the main house.  One building is usually an “kitchen”.  These kitchens have outdoor ovens and provide space to do the dishes.  You can build a fire to heat water here as well.  Another building is a pit latrine.  Many houses have these outdoor toilets like outhouses in America although most homes also have flush toilets.  Many houses have separate bedrooms for family and guests.

Our house is set up like a compound.  Our parents live in the main house with a kitchen for stove cooking and a refrigerator, a living room for entertainment and TV and two bedrooms.  We live in a separate building that has two bedrooms and a bathroom in between.  The bathroom has running water and hot water is available if turn on the electric heater, which is pretty expensive.  There is a pit latrine here, as it was needed before the bathroom was built.  Finally there is a little building in front they hope to turn into a Tuck store one day.  Tuck stores are sort of like very very basic Seven-Eleven.

– Motswana people are very happy to hear you try to learn their native Setswana language. If I can say Dumelama, they will stop in their tracks to converse and help with every word. When I can’t understand (which happens quickly) they translate to English. They will help me learn the last sentence spoke and kindly go about their business. I can promice you nothing like this ever happened in France!





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