Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)



Capital : Gaborone

Size: 225 000 sq m Popn: 1373 000


The original inhabitants were hunter gatherers, the Kung, and the San people still exist as nomads in the Kalahari. The Tswana were the main ethnic group after the C17th and Bantu peoples established tribal groups and a complicated political structure in the C19th. Khama III, chief of the Bamangwato from 1872, united his people, gathered a strong army and negotiated with the Europeans. As a committed Christian, he was supported against the Boers by the British government which took over in 1885. A formal protectorate of Bechuanaland was established in 1891 and administered from Mafeking in South Africa from 1895 to 1960.

South Africa was made independent in 1910 and it appeared that Bechuanaland would become part of it although the British government stipulated that this had to be by popular consent which was not forthcoming. In 1948, the relatively peaceful relations between Britain and Bechuanaland were changed by Chief Seretse Khama of the Bamangwato's marriage to an Englishwoman, Ruth Williams. They were exiled from 1950-56 and only allowed back when Seretse gave up his chieftaincy. As an ordinary politician, he founded the BDP (Bechuanaland Democratic Party) with considerable support as a descendant of Khama III, gaining a sweeping election victory in 1965. As Sir Seretse Khama, he became President of the newly renamed Republic of Botswana, an independent state within the Commonwealth, in 1966.

The BDP had little successful opposition and Seretse continued to be re-elected. He was succeeded on his death in 1980 by his Vice President Quett (Ketumile) Masire who continued his cautious policies. Proximity to white ruled states like Rhodesia and South Africa caused some problems and President Masire steadily reduced dependence upon South Africa which accused Botswana of harbouring members of the banned ANC and conducted border raids. Masire's government remained stable and he was re-elected in 1984 and 1989.

The ethnic groups are the Batswana and the San with Setswana and English being spoken and Christianity and traditional beliefs being followed.

Botswanan Names


Baruti Glody Justice Kabo Ketumile Lulu
Maocha Moloki Quett Sekgoma Seretse Tshekedi


Basinyi Dipeba Dube Gabiseme Garenamotse Kebairejang
Khama Kubisa Machemko Mahinya Masire Matlapin
Molefi Motihala Mpho Ndaba Ntshebe Regontse
Setlalekgosi Thangane        



Fenyang Kefentse Kopano Tau    


Goitsemedime Kagiso Tale      

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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