Tribalism ‘exposed’

Tribalism 'exposed'
Tribalism 'exposed'

Africa-Press – Botswana. Should the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution be accepted, and adopted Districts, Sub Districts and councils will be renamed. According to report, concerns were raised that some laws of Botswana have provisions that provide and promote tribal inequalities.

The report says some Batswana feel this enables other tribes to elevate over other tribes, “It was pointed out that marginalisation of tribes was a potential trigger for civil strife,” reads the Commission report in part.

The report further states that Batswana are of the view that colonialism played a major role in dividing Batswana. It was pointed out that colonial rule was a factor in dividing the people of Botswana along tribal lines. Some wondered why some tribes that arrived earlier in the country or in some regions or who participated in the negotiations for Botswana’s independence were left out of the Constitution from the beginning.

The comments from Batswana suggest that the Constitution should be neutral, “Presenters asserted that when the country was named Bechuanaland, some tribes other than Tswana speakers were in the country, further when it was named Botswana they were present and had attended the African Advisory Council meeting in Mafikeng when the Constitution was promulgated, yet were overlooked.”

Further, “submissions were made that the Tribal Territories Act be repealed as it discriminates against some tribes while protecting others. The naming of some territories and institutions after tribes, for instances, Tawana, Ngwato, Ngwaketse Land board, were given as examples of discrimination. Some equated such naming to apartheid. Submissions were made that the Tribal Territories Act be reviewed to include tribal boundaries of other tribes not listed in that Act.”

It is also noted that the majority of Batswana are of the view that ethnic origins should be taken into consideration when demarcating administrative districts. According to the report, concerns were raised for example over Morwamosu and Kang which have been separated between Kweneng and Kgalagadi districts.

“This particular situation was described as subjugation of Bakgalagadi under Bangwaketse. Similarly, the issue was raised pertaining to tribal boundaries between Ngami and Central districts relating to Makalabedi cordon fence currently perceived to be the border, while the border is actually in Phuduhudu.”

Batswana feel it is imperative to delink some tribes in the Central District from the authority of Bangwato. “Some highlighted that the name Tswapong/Batswapong is a derogatory name given to this tribe upon arrival in Botswana. It was stated that the tribe should be called Pedi or Bapedi, which is their proper name,” the report reads further suggesting that their region should be divided into Tswapong North and South and that they should be removed from Bangwato Tribal territory.

On the other side of the country, Bakgalagadi also believe that the name of their region is derogatory and devaluing the identity of Bangologa who are descendents of Ngologa.

They want their region as such to be changed to Ngologa and, “It was emphasised that Kgalagadi South holds inhabitants from various tribes and that naming it as Kgalagadi discriminated against those who do not fall under Bakgalagadi tribe. Presenters suggested that Kgalagadi South be changed to Molopo District. Similarly, Bayeyi, Batswapong raised discontent over naming their area as Ga-Tawana, Gamma-Ngwato, which subjects them under other tribes.”

In addition, some Batswana submitted that Setswana is not the only language spoken in Botswana, “some submitted that the name Botswana denotes dominance of the Tswana tribes and diminishes other non-Tswana speaking tribes. It was further submitted that the name gives wrong impression that the country is monolingual and that it was founded by Tswana speaking tribes while that is not the case. Some asserted that the Tswana speaking tribes arrived in Botswana as settlers and found Bangologa and Basarwa as the first indigenous people in the country. On other matters the Commission recommended that districts should be named with tribally neutral names, Sub Districts be upgraded into fully fledged Districts.

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