Guns in Botswana (2)

Previously we observed that 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. The military and consequent political significance of firearms to the evolution of 19th-century Botswana dovetails with the social and environmental impact of their use in hunting. The acquisition of guns was both a cause and consequence of a surge in the region's hunting trade from the 1840s; involving the export of ivory, karosses, and ostrich feathers from hunting grounds that then largely fell under the effective control of the Dikgosi of Kweneng, Gammangwato, Gangewaketse, and Gatawana. Besides leading to a rapid decline in wildlife, and consequent expansion of arable and pastoral lands, hunting with guns reinforced social stratification in many areas.

This was manifested in patterns of subordination and servitude in the Kgalagadi between Batswana notables and Bakgalagari and Basarwa or Khoe/San communities. By the late 19th century, expectations of regimental gun ownership, coupled with a relative decline in commercial hunting, was a material factor that drove men to seek employment at the Kimberley and Gauteng mines. By the mid-19th century Batswana, along with other communities in the region, produced their own gunpowder and shot.

Editor's Comment
Masisi should avoid diplomatic tensions

Mokgweetsi Masisi’s recent spats regarding the supposed involvement of Eswatini and South Africa in accommodating former president Ian Khama have sparked concerns about the potential ramifications on diplomatic relations. While transparency is valued, it must be accompanied by strategic communication to mitigate unintended consequences.President Masisi’s comments during a diplomatic heads meeting have drawn attention to the delicate balance...

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