Examining Botswana African Art

Examining Botswana African Art

April 30, 2023

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Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, known for its natural beauty, wildlife, and vibrant culture. The country is bordered by South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, and is home to a diverse population of people from many different ethnic groups.

The country's art scene is heavily influenced by its rich cultural heritage, which includes a mix of Bantu and San (Bushmen) traditions. Botswana's art is known for its vibrant colors, intricate designs, and use of natural materials such as wood, clay, and animal hides.


Botswana has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The San people, also known as the Bushmen, are believed to be the first inhabitants of the region. In the 19th century, European explorers arrived in Botswana, followed by British colonialists who established a protectorate over the region in the late 19th century. Botswana gained independence from Britain in 1966 and has since become one of the most politically stable countries in Africa.


Botswana has a rich and diverse culture, with many different ethnic groups and traditions. The largest ethnic group in Botswana is the Tswana people, who are known for their music, dance, and art. Botswana is also home to a vibrant literary scene, with many authors and poets who write in both English and Setswana, the national language of Botswana.


Botswana is known for its incredible wildlife, including elephants, lions, cheetahs, and giraffes. The country is home to a number of national parks and game reserves, including the Okavango Delta, which is one of the largest inland deltas in the world. Visitors to Botswana can go on safari and experience the incredible wildlife and natural beauty of the country.

Botswana also has a rich artistic tradition that is deeply connected to the country's cultural heritage and natural surroundings.

The Arts of Botswana

The art of Botswana is diverse, encompassing a wide range of styles and mediums, and is deeply intertwined with the country's history, spirituality, and social identity.


Botswana artists use a variety of materials to create their works, including wood, metal, fabric, clay, and paint. Many artists use natural materials, such as wood and clay, to create sculptures and carvings that reflect the country's natural beauty. Other artists use synthetic materials, such as fabric and paint, to create textiles and paintings that explore the country's cultural heritage.


Botswana art is known for its bold colors, intricate patterns, and connection to traditional design and symbolism. Many artists draw inspiration from the country's traditional designs and symbols, such as the patterns used in basket weaving and beadwork, and incorporate them into their own work. Other artists experiment with contemporary styles and techniques, creating works that are both traditional and modern.


Botswana art often explores themes related to nature, spirituality, and social and political commentary. Many artists create works that depict animals, plants, and other elements of the natural world, while others use their art to comment on social and political issues, such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation.

Types of Art:

In addition to the types of art mentioned earlier, Botswana artists also create a variety of other types of art, including basketry, beadwork, pottery, and metalwork. Basketry and beadwork are traditional Botswana crafts that are often used to create functional items, such as baskets and jewelry, while pottery and metalwork are used to create decorative and functional objects, such as sculptures and utensils.

Artists: There are many talented Botswana artists working in a variety of styles and mediums. Some of the most well-known Botswana artists include Thapong Visual Arts Centre founder Ann Gollifer, whose paintings explore themes related to identity, politics, and culture, and sculptor Gideon Moghoba, who uses recycled materials to create intricate and thought-provoking sculptures.

Art Galleries:

Botswana has a growing art scene, with a number of galleries and exhibitions showcasing the work of local and international artists. Some of the most well-known art galleries in Botswana include the Thapong Visual Arts Centre in Gaborone, the Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi Gallery in Palapye, and the Kuru Art Project in D'Kar.

Themes of Botswana Art:

One of the most distinctive forms of Botswana art is basket weaving, which has been practiced for centuries by the country's women. The baskets are made from a variety of natural fibers, including palm leaves, mokolwane palm, and ilala palm. The intricate designs and patterns on these baskets are created by weaving together different colored strands of fiber, often using a technique known as coil weaving. Basket weaving is not just a craft in Botswana, it is an integral part of the country's cultural heritage and is often used in traditional ceremonies and rituals.

Another important form of Botswana art is pottery. The country's clay soils provide the perfect raw material for creating beautiful, functional pieces of pottery. Botswana's potters are known for their use of intricate designs and motifs, often inspired by the natural world. The pottery is often fired in open fires or in kilns, and traditional methods are still used to produce these pieces.

In addition to traditional art forms, Botswana has a growing contemporary art scene. Many of the country's artists are experimenting with new mediums and techniques, such as painting, sculpture, and mixed media. One of the most well-known contemporary artists from Botswana is the painter and sculptor Kebatho K. K. Mokgwa. His work often explores themes of identity, culture, and tradition, and his vibrant paintings and sculptures have been exhibited around the world.

Botswana's art scene is not limited to traditional and contemporary forms, but also includes music, dance, and performance art. The country's traditional music is often performed using traditional instruments such as the segaba (a type of violin), the tharanga (a type of harp), and the marimba (a type of xylophone). Dance is also an important part of Botswana's culture, with many traditional dances incorporating elements of storytelling and ritual.

The country's art scene has evolved over the years, influenced by various factors such as traditional customs, colonialism, and modernism. Botswana paintings are diverse, with each artist adding their unique style and interpretation to the art form.

One of the most prominent themes in Botswana paintings is the country's wildlife and natural scenery. Botswana is home to a variety of wild animals, such as elephants, lions, zebras, and giraffes. Many artists have depicted these animals in their paintings, showcasing their beauty and power. The natural landscapes of Botswana, such as the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, are also popular subjects in paintings, with artists capturing the country's vastness and stunning vistas.

Another common theme in Botswana paintings is the country's traditional culture. Many artists use their paintings to depict traditional customs and rituals, such as the San people's trance dance, the Setswana marriage ceremony, and the Herero women's dress. These paintings serve as a way to preserve and celebrate Botswana's cultural heritage, which is often threatened by modernization.

Contemporary Botswana paintings also reflect the country's evolving society and political landscape. Many artists use their paintings to express social and political issues, such as poverty, inequality, and corruption. Some paintings are also inspired by the country's struggle for independence, highlighting the role of key figures such as Sir Seretse Khama, the first president of Botswana.

Botswana paintings are created using various mediums such as oil, acrylic, watercolor, and pastels. Many artists use bold and bright colors to capture the vibrancy of Botswana's culture and landscapes. Others use a more subdued color palette to create a sense of depth and mood in their paintings.

Some of Botswana's most famous painters include Thapong Visual Arts Centre founder David Mmope, who creates paintings that reflect Botswana's political and social landscape. Another renowned artist is Wilson Ngoni, who specializes in capturing the beauty of Botswana's wildlife and landscapes.


In conclusion, Botswana's art scene is a rich and vibrant reflection of the country's cultural heritage and its contemporary artistic expression. From traditional basket weaving and pottery to modern paintings and sculptures, Botswana's art forms are a testament to the creativity and talent of its artists.

Size Guide

Centimeters (CM)

Inches (IN)

50CM x 40CM

19 11/16 in X 15 3/4 in

50CM x 50CM

19 11/16 in X 19 11/16 in

60CM x 60CM

23 5/8 in X 23 5/8 in

70CM x 50CM

27 9/16 in X 19 11/16 in

80CM x 60CM

31 1/2 in X 23 5/8 in

100CM x 80CM

39 3/8 in X 31 1/2 in

140CM x 110CM

55 1/8 in X 43 5/16 in