Music of Botswana

Botswana is an African country made up of different ethnic groups, although the Batswana are the majority of the population. Music is a large part of Botswana culture, and includes popular and folk forms. Botswana church choirs are common nationwide. Music education is an essential component of the Botswana educational system, and children of all ages are taught traditional songs and dances.

Native Tswana were the earliest inhabitants of the land that is today known as the Botswana and played its first music. Beginning in the 19th century, immigrants from the United Kingdom began arriving in large numbers, bringing with them new styles and instruments.

Popular music

Just like other African countries, popular music in Botswana is called "jazz"; however, it has little resemblance to the African American genre of the same name. There is an initiative to focus on revitalizing the Botswana music industry, instead of relying on foreign releases. Popular music in Botswana still comes from South Africa, the United States, Europe or elsewhere in Africa. Gumba-gumba is a form of modernized Zulu and Tswana music, mixed with traditional jazz. The word gumba derives from township slang for "party".

On the Dave Matthews Band's Live at Mile High Music Festival, vocalist Dave Matthews commented on the origin of the song "Eh Hee": "I made some friends down in Botswana, in Southern Africa, and they inspired this little song".

Botswana hip hop

Main article: Botswana hip hop

Hip hop is a cultural movement, of which music is a part. Hip hop music for the most part is itself composed of two parts: rapping, the delivery of swift, highly rhythmic and lyrical vocals; and DJing and/or producing, the production of instrumentation through sampling, instrumentation, turntablism, or beatboxing, the production of musical sounds through vocalized tones.[135] The national hip hop radio show Strictly Hip Hop, hosted by Draztik and Slim (of the Cashless Society Crew and co-founders of Unreleased Records), has done much for the Botswana hip-hop scene. Dagee Records[1] and Phat Boy are a noted hip-hop record labels.[2] Motswako is also a popular genre.

Folk music

Tswana music is primarily vocal, performed without drums and makes extensive use of string instruments, particularly the guitar. In the absence of drums, a clapping rhythm is used in music with a typical call-and-response vocal style. The absence of drumming is noticeable, and unusual for an African tribe.


  • Borankana
  • Chesa
  • Huru
  • Mokomoto
  • Ndazola
  • Phathisi
  • Selete
  • Setapa
  • Stibikoko
  • Tsutsube


  • Hanif Bhika
  • House Embassy
  • Culture Spears
  • Dikakapa
  • George Swabi
  • Jonny Kobedi
  • Kwataeshele
  • Machesa Traditional Troupe
  • Matsieng
  • Mokorwana
  • Poifo le Wonder
  • Ratsie Setlhako
  • Shirley
  • Shumba Ratshega
  • Speech Madimabe
  • Spiderman
  • Stampore
  • Stikasola

Kwaito music

This genre originates from the townships of Johannesburg. It has now found its way into Botswana, where it is becoming popular. Kwaito artists include Ghavorr, Mapetla, P-Mag, Skazzo, KIN, MMP, SEVEN ELEVEN, FOCUS.

Kwasa kwasa

An African version of rhumba, popularised in Central Africa, kwasa kwasa has a strong following in Botswana and has produced a number of musicians. It has a slower rhythm than original rhumba (increasing in tempo towards the middle of the song) and is calmer in style than its parent form, Afro-rhumba. Unlike rhumba, kwasa kwasa has a simple foot pattern with more emphasis on erotic movements.

Some artists have attempted to speed up kwasa kwasa and make it more danceable. Artist Vee is one; his style is known as kwaito kwasa, a combination of kwaito music and kwasa kwasa rhythms and guitar.[3] Kwassa kwassa artists include:John Quaine and Gofaone El'Jeff Mfetane

Rock and metal

Main article: African heavy metal

The development of rock music's popularity in Botswana has been gradual.[4] The music has begun to gain momentum, partly due to mainstream media such as MTV, Channel O and the internet. The native Batswana have demonstrated an appreciation for this genre, and since 2000 many new bands have been formed; most play locally, but a few have toured southern Africa. Rock culture has been recognized with bands uniting in a "Rock Against AIDS" tour. Notable bands include:

  • Amok
  • Crackdust
  • Disciplinary
  • Dust 'n' Fire
  • Metal Orizon
  • No!semakers On Parade
  • Nosey Road
  • Overthrust
  • Remuda
  • Skeletal Saints
  • Skinflint
  • Sms Blues Band
  • Stane
  • Stealth
  • Vitrified
  • Wraith
  • Wrust

The National Music Eisteddfod is held annually in Selebi-Phikwe.[5]

Industry and economics

Radio stations in the Botswana often broadcast popular music. Each music station has a format, or a category of songs to be played; these are generally similar to but not the same as ordinary generic classification. Many radio stations in the Botswana are locally owned and operated, and may offer an eclectic assortment of recordings.

An independent music industry (indie music) does exist and artists remain at an indie label for their entire careers. Indie music may be in styles generally similar to mainstream music, but is often inaccessible, unusual, or otherwise unappealing to many people. Indie musicians often release some or all of their songs over the Internet for fans and others to download and listen. In addition to recording artists of many kinds, there are numerous fields of professional musicianship in the Botswana, many of whom rarely record, including community orchestras, wedding singers and bands, lounge singers, and nightclub DJs.


Music is an important part of education in Botswana, and is a part of most or all school systems in the country. Music education is generally not mandatory in junior schools, and is an elective in later years. High schools generally offer classes in singing, mostly choral, and instrumentation in the form of a large school band. Music may also be a part of theatrical productions put on by a school's drama department.

Large universities account for most of the music degrees in the United States, though there are important small musicacademies and conservatories. University music departments may sponsor bands ranging from marching bands that are an important part of collegiate sporting events, prominently featuring fight songs, to barbershop groups, glee clubs, jazz ensembles and symphonies, and may additionally sponsor musical outreach programs, such as by bringing foreign performers to the area for concerts. Universities may also have a musicology department, and do research on many styles of music.

Holidays and festivals

Music is an important part of several Botswana holidays, especially playing a major part in the celebration of Christmas. Music also plays a role at many regional holidays that are not celebrated nationwide.

Botswana is home to numerous music festivals, which showcase styles ranging from house, jazz and hip hop. Some music festivals are strictly local in scope, including few or no performers with a national reputation, and are generally operated by local promoters.


  1. Mmegi Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. "Botswana". African Hip Hop. Archived from the original on February 4, 2005. Retrieved 2005-09-28.
  3. Culture and customs of Botswana by James Raymond Denbow and Phenyo C. Thebe. Greenwood Publishing Group:2006(page 214)ISBN 0313331782.
  4. "Africa is the last frontier for metal: Botswana's metal heads still rocking". CNN. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  5. "National Music Eisteddfod". Retrieved 2005-09-28.
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