Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa.
Botswana is the heartland of Setswana where it’s an official language and spoken by about 2 million of its inhabitants. However, the majority of Tswana speakers are found in South Africa, where just over 4 million people speak the language (Tswana is largely found in North West, a province bordering the country of Botswana). Setswana is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages and fifth most common home language - closely followed by English. Setswana is closely related to Sepedi and Sesotho and is also understood by speakers of the said languages.
When the new democratic government took over in South Africa in 1994, the Setswana Language Board was established to oversee the protection and development of the Setswana language. Additionally, lexicographic units were set up to oversee the compilation of dictionaries. This has resulted with very interesting developments of the Setswana language and culture across in South Africa. From the University of Pretoria to the North West University there has been an impressive explosion of research in the Setswana language. In the public sphere there is an awareness of the need to develop and preserve the Setswana language. Most importantly, there is pride in the language. Contrast this with what is happening in Botswana where English has increasingly become dominant in most spheres of human interaction like the media (both print and electronic), parliament, education and other areas.
Media and education
Setswana is used on radio and television and it has a multilingual newspaper called Seipone/Mirror with more articles in English than in Setswana. Radio stations like Motswedi Radio Station and Radio Mmabatho promote the use of Setswana.
Some universities like the University of North West, the University of the North and the University of Pretoria is using Setswana as a medium of instruction. What is interesting to note is that Setswana is also gaining prominence the corporate world with companies such as Telkom which has already translated some of its advertising materials into Setswana and other African languages.
There is a desperate need for more administrative and advertising materials to be accessible at grassroots level and be translated into Setswana – especially in the farming and mining industries.