Cultural Overview

The country of Botswana, and by extension, the Tswana people, has long been held up as a kind of success story in Africa. The Tswana built a relatively stable and democratic government following the peaceful movement for independence from the Republic of South Africa in 1966, when much of Botswana was known as the republic of Bechuanaland. Since that time, the political organization of the Tswana has fallen into two main political parties, the Botswana Democratic Party and the Botswana National Front. Historically, leadership in the community was by the paramount chief or kgosi and was extremely hierarchical. In the post-independence era, the kgosi remain important leaders for each of the districts in Botswana and are recognized as such by the central democratic government.

The contemporary economy of the Tswana is grounded in the cattle and diamond-mining industries. In the past, cattle provided both social and economic prestige. Today, ownership of large cattle herds has diminished, and export of cattle abroad and for profit has increased. The diamond-mining industry in the southern part of Botswana, extending through South Africa, underpins much of the contemporary economy and has resulted in male-dominated migration streams to these areas. Much of the Tswana economy to the north is centered on the growth of the high-end tourism industry.

The most significant aspect of Tswana cultural life today is the advent of HIV/AIDS and its affect upon gender and social life. At present Botswana has the highest estimated HIV prevalence rate in sub-Saharan Africa with approximately one in three persons infected. Rapid industrialization, along with migration and transportation patterns, has resulted in the rapid spread of the disease through urban areas. Cultural constructions of gender and health play a large role in understandings of the disease (Comaroff, 1993; Klaits, 2001; Upton, 2001).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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