© 2018 Dr. M. Sheppard

Botswana Kanye Households People Lands Cattle-post Crafts

 Masimo - The Lands

Traditionally the timing of all the agricultural activities was controlled by the Chief. Each activity would only be commenced after he had first announced it was the right time~ and the activity had been commenced at the Chief's Masotla fields (the fields cultivated by the tribe specially for the Chief). Bathoen 1 abolished the practice whereby work had to be completed in the Masotla fields before it could be commenced in the family fields. He also abolished the practice of the Chief inaugurating each agricultural activity by a kgotla announcement. However in 1930 this was restored by Bathoen 11 for ploughing, reaping and opening the stubble fields to cattle after harvest. To transgress led to the fine of an ox. (Schapera "Tribal Innovators” - Chapter on Economic Life). By the late 1970's  and 1980's formal announcement is still made at the kgotla for the beginning of the ploughing season.

The Lands are areas located some miles from the village~ the nearest being about 10 miles and the furthest about 50 miles. Therefore families~ especially the women, tend to live at their Lands for the ploughing, planting, weeding harvesting and threshing season.

The agricultural year really starts with the first rains, which usually fall around September, October and November. People then leave their homes in Kanye and go to live at their Lands. Fields are typically 8 acre plots that have been granted by the Chief (although nowadays it is the Land Board) to the head of the household. Fields are not bought nor can they be sold, the person to whom a field is granted has the right to the land. Traditionally a field would be ploughed and planted for each wife by her husband then the wife with the help of the other women and children would cultivate, weed, harvest and thresh. The harvest was then brought back to Kanye to be stored in granaries in each yard. It was from their fields that a family obtained their main livelihood.

Nowadays, for various reasons (e.g. other opportunities such as migrant labour to South Africa, or employment in the ever growing wage economy in Botswana) this is no longer the case. But fields are still very important, and, perhaps due to opportunities for cash crops and the encouragement by central government to local food producers, they are becoming increasingly important.

Perhaps it should also be mentioned that members of the same kgotla i.e. patrilineal kin, were originally granted Lands in the same area. In the main, families still plough near their fellow kgotla members although some have their Lands located in different areas for various reasons. For example some families who feel they have been bewitched by kgotla members often move to other areas, others ask to be granted fresh Lands because their fields are infertile, near hills so are always raided by wild animals such as baboons, or successful farmers ask for extra Lands to plough. There did not appear to be any shortage of ploughing land in the areas I visited.

All the family's fields are "put" by the family traditional doctor so that they will be protected and the crops may grow well. People from the same kgotla of course use the same traditional doctor - the one appointed to look after that kgotla.

The Agricultural Year

As has already been stated the Agricultural year begins with the first rains when work at the Lands begins. However mention should first be made of Dikgafela (see separate sub-section entitled Dikgafela).

Promising rain clouds