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Beliefs, Values and Practices

Tumelo (Religion)

To date, Christianity accounts for around 80% of the religions practiced in Botswana.  Before Christianity was brought to Botswana by missionaries in the 1800’s, people believed in their ancestors, who played the role of “Guardian Angel”.  There were therefore various religious practices intended to honour and appease the ancestors; for example, after the harvest, a portion of the crop would be offered to the ancestors as a 'thank you' or to ask them for assistance, such as bringing the rains.

Many people still maintain dual religious practices, between Christianity and traditional religious worship.

Botho (Humanity)

The most important value held in Botswana is that of BOTHO (highest respect, honour, esteem that one holds for another human life).  The society expects and requires its members to have Botho, which is manifested through good manners, humility, compassion, kindness, respect, gentility and observance of traditional norms and behavioural code.  Botho forms the fabric of the Botswana value-system. 

Other values which also form the national principles of Botswana include Democracy, Development, Self-reliance and Unity.

Morero (Consultation and Consensus Building)

People of Botswana strongly believe in the value of consultations within the society to ensure peace through consensus.  The process of MORERO (consultation) at inter-personal, family, and community levels is considered an invaluable asset in the ability to reach and sustain agreements.  Communities and even Government consult at the KGOTLA.

Dingaka (Traditional Doctors)

The DINGAKA (traditional doctors) have a very extensive knowledge of medicinal herbs and plants.  The various herbs, roots, leaves, barks and so forth are known to cure a range of illnesses including snake bites, pain, common flu, impotence and many more.  Other plants are believed to be excellent aphrodisiacs. The medicinal herbs have been used over the centuries by Dingaka to heal and even cure diseases for which there are no modern medicines.

Moreover, the Dingaka claim to have extraordinary powers, ranging from the power to order lightening to strike someone, providing lucky charms for job promotion, fixing unsteady marriages, etc.  Using their divining bones, the Dingaka claim to be able to detect their client's problems and even give protective medicines to solve them.

There is a general recognition of the importance of traditional medicine within the health delivery system of Botswana.  Those who wish to practice are required to register with the Botswana Dingaka Association and their practice is regulated.  With more exposure to other foreign beliefs and education, however, a growing number of citizens dismiss this type of medicine.  Nonetheless, there are others, even amongst the educated, who use the services of the traditional doctors and keep it a closely guarded personal secret.