History of Botswana Music

by 09/11/2012 12:13:00 0 comments 4320 Views

Botswana is an African country made up of numerous ethnic groups, though the Batswana are the most numerous. Music is an omnipresent part of Botswana culture, and includes popular and folk forms. Batswana church choirs are common across the country. Music education is an integral part of the Botswana educational system. Children of all ages are taught traditional songs and dances.

Popular music

As in many African countries, much of the popular music in Botswana is called jazz, though it has little resemblance to the African American genre of that name. There has been a push in recent years to focus on revitalizing the Botswana music industry instead of purchasing foreign releases. Most popular music in Botswana still comes from South Africa, 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 comes from township slang for party.

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

Botswana Hip Hop

Hip hop crews include The Wizards, a long-standing crew that fuses hip hop with ragga and R&B. The Insiderz, a recently formed crew focusing on spacey type beats blended with R&B and pop music. The national hip hop radio show Strictly Hip Hop, hosted by Draztik and Slim (both of the Cashless Society Crew and co-founders of Unreleased Records ), has done much for the Botswana scene. The record label Phat Boy is also a very important label for the genre. Magosi, Zeus, and Scar are among the most renowned artists in the country, as is the DJ turned artist Zibanani. As far as motswako goes, Botswana has the best tswakalistas in the world.

Top Hip Hop Artists

  •     Apollo Diablo
  •     BK Proctor
  •     Cygnus
  •     Dice (Ditiro di maswe)
  •     Genhamour
  •     HT
  •     Ignition
  •     K-Bos
  •     MBC
  •     Melodramatic
  •     Michelle
  •     Mista Doe
  •     Mosako
  •     Nick The Architect
  •     Nitro
  •     Orackle
  •     Poetic
  •     Qbio
  •     Ruxion
  •     Scar
  •     Scary Kid Scarin Kidz (Ks2)
  •     Sick Bunch
  •     Stagga
  •     Steez
  •     T-Smawll
  •     Third Mind
  •     Yun Bleezy
  •     Zeus


  •     Bangu Goddamit - Sick Bunch
  •     Bk Proktor
  •     Dj Kuchi Productions
  •     Eric Ramco
  •     Gen.Wood
  •     GunPowder
  •     King Zee
  •     Muscle
  •     Pongo Rista
  •     Prez Beats
  •     Ras T
  •     Sam Selecta

Folk music

Tswana music is mostly vocal and performed without drums; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Tswana folk music has instruments such as gumba gumba Segankure/Segaba and for the last few decades, a guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music. The guitar was originally played in a manner similar to Segaba but with a better rhythm due to plucking, almost completely replacing the violin-like Segaba until such prodigies of segaba as Ratsie Setlhako re-popularised segaba in the 80s with the help of radio. In the absence of instruments a clapping rhythm is used in music with the typical chant and answer manner of singing. The absence of drumming is predominant and is unusual for an African Tribe. Tswana music has producers such as Ramco loco and Ronald Sekaname who is currently based in Malaysia, signed under Tak Boleh records, in collaboration with Panggilan Masuk and kredit masembula. There are other hip hop artists who are not yet signed, include Banxs from Thamagaaaa and Thabang in Lobatse. The hip hop genre of Botswana became the most dominating when zeus came up; it has grown from the days of one of our legends, DJ Sid, who started the p-side and introduced western music to Botswana.

Folk Music Styles

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

Kwaito Music

This genre originates from the townships of Johannesburg. This movement has now found its way into Botswana where it is becoming more popular.

  •     Ghavorr
  •     Mapetla
  •     P-Mag
  •     Skazzo

Folk musicians

  •     Benson Ditsheko Lesedi
  •     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

Kwasa Kwasa

An African version of Rhumba popularised in Central Africa has a strong following in Botswana and has produced highly acclaimed musicians such as Franco and Afro Musica, Jeff Matheatau, Chris Manto 7, Alfredo Mos, and Les Africa sounds. It has a slower rhythm than the original type and predictably tends to get a rapid rhythm in the middle of the song. It is still not as hectic as its parent Afro Rhumba. Unlike Rhumba, Kwasa kwasa has a simple leg routine, focusing more on an erotic movement of hips and buttocks.

Some artists have attempted to speed up and make it more danceable to breakdance with great success. Artist Vee is one of them and his version is known as Kwaito Kwasa, from a combination of Kwaito music with a kwasa kwasa rhythm and guitar.

Kwasa Kwasa Artists:

  •     12 Volts
  •     Alfredo `BBB` Mos and Lers Africa Sounds
  •     Bee Musica
  •     Biza Mupulu
  •     Franco and Afro Musica
  •     Frankata
  •     Fresh-Les
  •     Jeff `IGWE` Matheatau and Yakho Band
  •     Tumza and The Big Bullets


The development of rock as a popular genre in Botswana has been a slow one. The music has however started to gain some momentum, partly due to the youth's exposure to mainstream media like MTV, Channel O and the internet. The native Batswana have since showed appreciation for this genre. Since 2000, many new bands have been formed. Most these have played locally and a few have toured Southern Africa. The rock culture is now evidently recognized, with these bands coming together to fight AIDS under a tour titled "Rock Against AIDS".

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.