Culture Shock in Botswana

Expats moving to Botswana won’t have to overcome too many obstacles while settling in, but as with any new country, there may be some initial culture shock in Botswana.

Botswana has five values that define its national character: democracy, development, self-reliance, unity, and botho. In Setswana, botho refers to the qualities of courtesy, self-discipline and respect for others. Expats who respect these principles will adjust quickly to their new lives in Botswana. 

Language barrier in Botswana

Botswana’s official languages are English and Setswana. Expats will get by easily without learning Setswana, but life will be much easier if they learn a few basic phrases in the local language. Expats may also find that English is less widely spoken in the more rural areas of the country.

Food in Botswana

The cuisine of Botswana shares some characteristics with the cuisines of other Southern African countries, but there are certain dishes that are uniquely local. These include mopane worms, commonly served dried and salted as a snack, and seswaa, a dish of heavily salted mashed-up beef, goat, chicken or lamb meat.

Expats shouldn’t worry, though, as there are plenty of Western-style grocery stores and restaurants and they won’t have to change their eating habits too drastically. Because Botswana is a landlocked country, fresh seafood may not be readily available.

Traditional values and family in Botswana

The Batswana people pride themselves on hospitality and friendliness. Respect for elders and tribal tradition is equally important, but the latter is slowly changing as younger generations aspire to more Western lifestyles. 

Time in Botswana

As with elsewhere on the continent, the concept of African time can be an adjustment for expats settling into their new life. There is often no rush to get things done in Botswana, especially in its rural areas, so expats will need to learn to be patient.

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