Guns In Botswana

The pre-colonial emergence of an indigenous gun culture among communities within modern Botswana was a determining factor in the territory's separate colonial and thus post-colonial destiny.

Possession of guns, accompanied by the rapid adoption of new military and hunting tactics for their use, played a significant role in the reformation of local polities during the mid-19th century. By 1870, much of modern Botswana had as a result come under the authority of four kingdoms; led by the Dikgosi of Bakwena (Kweneng), Bangwaketse (Gangwaketse), Bangwato (Gammangwato), and Batawana (Gatawana). The political authority of each of these kingdoms, along with the border states of the Barolong boo-Ratshidi (Borolong), Bakgatla-ba-ga-Kgafela (Kgatleng), and Balete (Gammalete), was supported by the protective and coercive capacity of their arsenals.

This defensive capacity enabled them to resist repeated threats to their independent well-being by the Amandebele and Boers. Defensive state formation in southeast Botswana further resulted in a considerable population influx from the Transvaal, permanently altering the region's demography. An 1857 visitor to the Bakwena capital, Dithubaruba, thus observed that: “The Kaffirs bring all sorts of things to the wagon to trade, but charge very high, and principally want powder, lead, and caps.

Editor's Comment
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