Months of the year in Setswana
- January 28, 2022
- Posted by: Vambo Academy
- Category: Botswana
Months of the year in Setswana
Astrology and an understanding of the solar system are evident in multiple African cultures including that of the Batswana people. The Southern African calendar consisted of 354 days which was made up of 12 months of 29.5 days each in accordance with the lunar month. The calendar indigenous to the Batswana people then had 13 months starting from 1 September to 28 August to account for the additional 11 days which were evident in the solar year.
And all the months in the calendar are aligned to a specific meaning or event that occurred leading to their respective naming conventions. Today there are some Batswana who still uphold the beliefs related to the indigenous months of the year.
The following was the order of the months of the year:
1.September – Lweetse
Lweeste was the first month of the year and some Batswana still practice the custom. It is the first month of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Nimbus clouds start to form preparing for rain because by the formation of the nimbus colds it means that it may rain anytime.
- October – Diphalane
This month was named after a reproductive pattern of animals indigenous to the Southern African region. During this month, the animals called Impala (phala) start to reproduce, so the month is named after those animals Diphalane.
- November – Ngwanatsela
In this month, the harvest plants are growing to maturity. A portion of the wild berries (Moretlwa) have rippened & can be eaten. It is a time where elders inform children to harvest the perfect berries: ngwana itseele tlhekwa.
- December – Sedimonthole
Sedimonthole is the first month of summer in the Southern Hemisphere whereby many crops are harvested. According to Batswana it is a taboo to eat the first fruit of the harvest as it is reserved for the king. When the harvester arrives with the crops, they ask someone to assist with this custom 🡪 selo sa modimo nthole.
- The 13th Month – Morule
During this month the Marula tree was ready for harvest. This is the 13th month which is no longer recognised in the 12 month calendar
- January – Ferikgong
The literal meaning of Ferikgong is ‘the falling bundle of wood’. The temporary wooden structures used in agriculture were torn down during this season.
- February – Tlhakole
The literal meaning of Tlhakole is “the wiping month”. The sorghum plant – which is a common grain in the region – sheds its outer layer during this season as it forms.
- March – Mopitlo
Phitlho means a burial or funeral. This month was named in relation to the word phitlho as at this time the fields are barren and have little to no agricultural life.
- April – Moranang
The name is derived from the beans called (Moranang wa nawa). These beans start to grow during this season and the Batswana start to eat these beans (dikgobe/nyebu).
- May – Motsheganong
This is the last month of autumn and the birds (dinonyane) cannot eat the grains (mabele) in the farm. Batswana then said: mabele a tshega dinonyane ganong which means the grains mocks the birds.
- June – Seetebosigo
This was & still is the first month of winter season where it is extremely cold. The naming of the months is a warning to people to not pay visit at night se ete bosigo.
Eta means travel and Bosigo means night
- July – Phukwi
This month is derived from the word phukwane which means to conceive while still immature. Phukwi signifies that winter is about to end and it is the conception month for some crops.
- August – Phatwe
Phatwe is the month where the ground is ploughed and made ready for sowing. Some crops are planted at this time ahead of the rains to come in the coming warmer season.
The order above indicates the sequence of the months of the year that was utilised by Batswana before the current Gregorian calendar that has 12 months was adopted.