Traditional Clothes Of Botswana

Botswana, which has a total population of 1.1 million people, can be found in the southern region of Africa. It is famous for the diverse cultural ideas and customs that it upholds. The nation places a high level of regard and respect on fashion as one of the components of attire that it upholds.

There are many different tribes, each of which has its own distinctive form of traditional attire. There is a tribe called the Herero living in the country’s northern portion. They are famous for their unusual Herero attire, which is made up of multiple layers of fabric.

Tanned animal skin is used to make leather clothing that is famously associated with the local people. This clothing is also worn during traditional dances. Leteisi, also known as German print, is worn by the majority of other tribes and may be fashioned into a variety of costumes.

Traditional Clothes Of Botswana

Prints from Germany are currently being incorporated into contemporary clothing design, such as stylized bridal gowns. These days, Herero dresses are accessorized and sewed with the most modern fabrics available to expand their designs.

In this article, we will discuss Botswana’s traditional clothes according to the time period.

Traditional Garb From Before Colonial Times

Men’s Clothing 

The traditional garb used by men is known as Tshega and consists of a cap made from animal skin, sandals, and belts. The blanket, which is called a Karass, is crafted from animal hide and is wrapped over the loin region of the body. Beads, necklaces, and armlets are all examples of ornamental pieces that can be worn on the body.

Women’s Clothing

The traditional clothing worn by women in Botswana is called Khiba. It consists of a skirt that is worn with a Mosese, which is a blanket made from animal skin (Kaross) that is worn to cover the upper half of the body.

Necklaces, bracelets, armlets, rings, and earrings are all examples of adornments that are traditionally worn by women. Thari is a type of skin covering that is worn by nursing moms and can be utilized to carry their infants on their backs.

Children Clothing

Children’s clothes differed from adults. Most toddlers wore nothing. Older males only used a small skin flap in the front. However, they often wore jewelry. Girls wore skin or bast string fringe and jewelry. Girls wore mosese and khiba as they grew older, while guys wore tshega.

Tswanas Wear Animal Skins As Traditional Clothing

Animal-skin clothing often indicated social class, gender, age, and position. Poor Tswana wore fewer clothes made from antelope hide. Rich Tswana wore jackets made from 15–18 sewed-together furs of wild cats, jackals, hounds, and other animals.

The Tswana valued jewelry and their daily role. All ages and genders of Tswana utilized them in large quantities. Tswana ornaments were traditionally made of copper wire, leather, animal teeth, etc. People began trading with other tribes and nations, thus glass beads and seashells were added to the list.

Mix ocher and animal fat to enhance the traditional appearance of pre-colonial Botswana’s people. This ointment protected the skin from the sun and wind. Tswanas still protect their skin with lotions and cosmetics, but they buy them from local shops.

After Missionary

Botswana experienced missionary involvement in the mid-19th century. During that time, many missionaries moved to Southern Africa, bringing European practices with them. New clothes quickly became a significant tradition. Missionaries used European clothing and tried to dress locals similarly. They changed Botswana’s clothing customs. Natives abandoned animal skins for fabric garments. Even though some people used skins throughout the 20th century, animal-skin apparel was mainly obsolete.

Mary and Robert Moffat caused the biggest change in Tswana’s clothing. In the 19th century, Botswanans began combining clothes. They may wear modest European garments with woven or skinned karosses. This clothing highlighted Tswana’s lifestyle changes. People kept their traditions while embracing new ways of thinking and conducting rituals.

Tswanas began dressing like Westerners in the 20th century. Their traditional attire became less common in cities. Tswana people wear animal skins (or stylized copies) during weddings, rituals, folk celebrations, and traditional holidays.

Herero Clothing In Botswana

Botswana is home to a variety of other ethnic groups in addition to its native Tswana population. The Herero people make up one of the most populous communities. Botswana is home to members of this particular ethnic group, as are several other countries in Southern Africa.

In addition to that, each member of this tribe wears one-of-a-kind traditional clothing that bears direct resemblance to the difficult and troubled past of their people. These people finally developed new cultural characteristics and traditions after being forced to relocate away from their natural land and engaging in multiple Herero wars with the conquerors.

Today, Herero people dress in their traditional garb, which is known as the “Herero attire.” It originates from the period of the Victorian era. In the early 20th century, German missionaries were responsible for introducing this clothing style to Southern Africa. However, modern Herero people believe it to be an integral part of their culture and the tradition of their dress.


The Herero woman wears lengthy, cumbersome clothing. Petticoats have been layered upon petticoats to provide the desired fullness and width of this dress.

The traditional Herero garment envelops the wearer in its entirety. It serves as a form of indicator that the woman in question is married and only reveals her body to her spouse.

Final Words

In conclusion, missionaries in the 17th and 19th centuries brought with them new ideas that were popular in Botswana. Styles have evolved to incorporate western elements.

Pants became commonplace for women, while gowns lightened and shrank in length; men’s trousers went from knee-length to ankle-length. Many new trends in clothing appeared over the years.

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