Sunday, March 29, 2009

Interesting Setswana words

This week was not very eventful. It was nice to be back on campus, mostly for the 5 minute foot commute to classes in the morning.

A bunch of study abroad advisers came from universities all over the US on Monday to check out the university and the CIEE program here. I was picked to bring 8 of them to my religion class.
They showed up at the school around 8:05 for my 8am class, so I walked quickly with them, hoping not to make too much of a disturbance arriving into class late. This didn't happen.
The thing with Botswana is that for me, being the only white man in a class of 80 black students, getting to class late is something very noticeable. So when you walk in 10 minutes late, using the door in the front of the classroom because the back entrance is locked, people tend to notice.
The entire class started laughing when I walked in with 8 middle age white people, while the professor sang a song which is sung in church when the priest comes in.
They liked the class though, as we were discussing intermediaries in religions, specifically how a mountain goat is used in one culture. (Hint: they don't kill it! They actually capture it on the mountain they believe god lives on, and since it lives near god and has the coolness of god, they rub it with ashes (warmth) and pray on it. Then the mountain goat is released, bringing the heat of earth and the prayers of the people back up to god. Soon the rains come to cool the land and prayers are answered.)
Anyways, we met with the advisers after my class and told them about our experiences in Botswana. It was fun remembering all the things we have done the past 3 months here. I also ran into two advisers, from two different schools, from Cape Cod! It was crazy!

On Saturday, our group went to visit a traditional healer. He was interesting and told us how people come to him with problems. He claims to know immediately what is wrong with a person without them telling him. He communicates with the ancestors of the person, then makes an herb potion for them to drink. People come to him with problems ranging from sickness, broken hearts, bad omens, desire for good luck or a promotion, or the need to have a women fall in love with them. He stated how he is different from a witch doctor, as he only does good and helps people.
He is certified by the Botswana government as an official traditional healer, and there has been research by western science into the herbs and potions used to help people. He also stated that he cannot fix everything and sometimes has to send people to a hospital to get help. However, clinics also send people to traditional healers to remedy some other problems.

Because this week was uneventful and my camera is still dead and I can't upload wonderful pictures, I will hopefully entertain you with the literal meanings of some Setswana words.

Seetebosigo: June or "Don't go about at night" (because it's cold)
Ngwanatsele: November or "The child will pick up" (it's harvesting season, so pick up crops)
Sedimonthole: December or "Please take this off my head" (as women carry baskets of crops on their heads)
Dumela: hello or "I trust you"
Ferabobedi: 8 or "Bend/break two fingers" (if two of your fingers are broken, you only have 8!)
Ferabongwe: 9 or "Bend/break one finger" (Same thing)
lekgoa: white man or "vomited out by the sea" (self explanatory)

A note about numbers. They are terrible in Setswana. No one uses them. They just use English numbers (one, two, three, you know them)

Anyways, I'll let you know about some more entertaining words later.
It's almost Easter! That means I have to get to planning travel. Right now it looks like Mozambique, but I'll keep you updated.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I think Mozambique's skeleton coast will be very cool.