|Doctrines|| ||Traditional Tswana belief was centred around the high God (Modimo), who was regarded as the Creator of all things, and the person responsible for all human destiny. He controlled human destiny by sending different weather, in order to indicate through winds, hail, heat, rain (or its absence), and death, his discontent with some departure from tradition and from the proper Tswana order of things. Thus, particularly significant events were acts of God or, in the case of death, could also be signs of witchcraft and, therefore, of human envy and greed.|
Modimo however, was distant from people, and the ancestral spirits were usually called on to intercede for the Tswana. Together with Dingwe, a kind of ogre against whom children were protected by charms, and the lesser divinities of Loowe, Tintibane, Matsieng, and Thobega (associated with caves and footprints on rocky places), the ancestral spirits were central to Tswana religious belief and practice.
|History|| ||The origins of the Sotho people, to whom the Tswana belong is not clearly known. They probably separated from the main body of Bantu-speaking peoples somewhere in the vicinity of the Great Lakes of East Africa, and they entered South Africa, in three series of migrations. The Tswana were already in their current lands by ca. 1600 CE. During the following 200 years, existing clusters were subdivided as a result of discontented members of a ruling family moving away in order to begin their own chiefdoms. The 19th Century saw periods of intense change, particularly between 1810 and 1840 when civil wars were frequent. Invaders came specifically from the east, namely the MmaNtatisi (1822-3), Sebetwane's Kololo (1823-8), and Moselekatse's Tebele (1825-37). The first European expedition reached the Tlhaping, the southernmost group of Tswana, in 1801, constituted by a small group of explorers from the Cape. |
Livingstone's discovery of Lake Ngami (1849) opened up the road to the north, with its great wealth of ivory and other hunting spoils, and the number of European visitors rapidly increased. By the end of the 19th Century, Tswana territory had been partitioned among the Cape Colony in the south, Great Britain in the north, and the South African republic in the east.
The historical development of religion in Tswana has meant in reality that Christianity is their official religion. Missionaries first reached them in 1816, and by the 1870s Christian missionaries were present among all the Tswana groups, including Dutch Reformed, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, and Roman Catholic. The conversion of the Tswana was carried out by the initial conversion of chiefs, who were assumed by the Tswana, as ritual mediators between ancestors and people in the past, and also as rainmakers. Once chiefs accepted the ritual practices of different Christian traditions, Tswana followed them.
|Symbols|| ||Rainmaking symbols included the rain enclosure (segotlwana sa pula), that was located behind the hut of the chief's great wife, and the pots of rainmaking medicines. Those pots were symbols of the ritual power that the chief could exercise. For example, they were filled with water by young girls before the cultivating season started, or they contained the juice of irritant bulbs, to be used to 'cool' the bodies of all newly bereaved people. |
|Adherents|| ||No official figures available.|
| ||Botswana is their main centre, while there are Tswana also living in South Africa.|