It is largely the culture of the Batswana that has dominated that of other minority groups. This is particularly evident with regard to cattle ownership. Cattle, the traditional Tswana source of wealth and status, are now desired by most, if not all groups of people in Botswana. But this exchange of cultural values has not been a one-way affair: minority groups have influenced and contributed to the dominant culture in numerous ways - in Ngamiland, for example, the Bayei fishing methods were adopted by the ruling Batawana.
Recent years have seen the introduction of western culture in the form of western business, technology, consumer goods, tourism and the media. These influences reach Botswana via a somewhat circuitous route. South Africa, heavily influenced by North America, Europe and Asia, acquires the latest goods and media items from these countries. Botswana, in turn, imports nearly all commodities from South Africa, along with media and other cultural elements.
Life in the urban areas has been most affected by western culture and increasing modernity and wealth. In the rural areas, traditions persist, with ways of life differing regionally. Some of the more obvious physical aspects of the different cultures have all but disappeared. Traditional clothing, arts and crafts, most ritual ceremonies and some tools and utensils have faded. However, others remain important and have been retained in a blend of western values and African traditions: cattle ownership, music and dance, traditional leadership, and consultation with traditional healers.
The changes, which have come so rapidly to Botswana, have had their advantages and disadvantages. Health facilities and education opportunities have improved, with associated increased prosperity and standards of living for some. However, there is a steadily widening gap between rich and poor.
Music and Dance
Music is the aspect of culture, which has perhaps best survived the onslaught of western influences in Botswana. Traditional and modern music of numerous ethnic groups from southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa are heard nearly everywhere you go - in shops, malls, cars, combis, trains, taxis and bars. Music, dance and singing are an integral part of everyday activities and modern-day ceremonies such as weddings and even funerals.
Batswana have incorporated their traditional music into church singing. The result is some of the most stirring, soulful music on earth, with choirs flourishing in urban and rural areas.
Children are taught traditional music and dance at primary school. Even in secondary schools, morning assembly sometimes begin with singing. Teacher-training colleges often have their own dance troupes, some of which have performed overseas. Traditional dance competitions for schools are periodically held, usually in larger towns and villages, and many schools from around the country participate. These school groups also often perform on public holidays - in villages, town halls and community centres. The dancers, wearing traditional costumes of skins and beaded jewellery, move with exuberance and energy. The music is happy, infectious, and full of feeling.
Early tribal religions were primarily cults. The supreme being and creator was known as Modimo. Religious rites included the bogwera and bojale (male and female initiation ceremonies) and gofethla pula or rain-making rites.
Today, Christianity is the most prevailing belief system in Botswana, with well over 60 % of the population regularly practicing some form of Christian worship. Christianity was introduced to Botswana by David Livingstone in the mid-19th century, including conversion of Kgosi Sechele I (Chief of Bakwena). The main denominations are - Roman Catholic, Anglican, Zion, Lutheran and Methodist Christian Church.