Journal of
Music and Dance

  • Abbreviation: J. Music Dance
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2360-8579
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMD
  • Start Year: 2011
  • Published Articles: 23

Full Length Research Paper

Ditlhaka music learning and practices through transmission among the Batlokwa and Balete of Botswana

Otukile Sindiso Phibion
  Faculty of Education, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Published: 30 March 2012



Based on ongoing field research into Botswana music and dance, this article deliberates on information found out on ditlhaka (river - reeds) traditional music as practiced by the Balete and Batlokwa of South Eastern Botswana. The paper was conceived from tribal collaborations between ethnomusicology music classes’ village excursions and the respondents in an effort to understand Balete and Batlokwa of Botswana ditlhaka traditional music and its uses in conjunction with their tribal daily lives. The paper does not only pay attention to the music, but also to its traditional ways of oral transmission and values. The subject of traditional learning styles among practiced and proficient musicians, aspirant musicians and participants is discussed. The change of instrumental constructing materials from river-reeds (with the name ditlhaka maintained) to copper tubings was also noted. Data were mainly collected by the author during village excursions through oral interviews. The oral interviews were also recorded using an audiotape for the purposes of future reference. In addition to written descriptive accounts of the author’s observations, photographs of the practical music performances were also captured. It became evident from the interviews that Balete and Batlokwa of Botswana ditlhaka traditional music was traditionally used for initiation graduation ceremonies to welcome graduating initiates into the village. Traditional education included learning their history through praise poems and the teaching of acceptable behavior through games, riddles, puzzles and proverbs. The fundamental of Tswana religious beliefs and cosmology were also learned. While such initiation rites were central to Tswana culture, the practice of male circumcision and the sexual instruction took place. The findings emphasise thatDitlhaka music has now changed to be used mainly by men on day to day tribal societal activities for entertainment with the inculcation of women ornamenting through go thaurisa. The latter is an activity regarded as a happy game for women. This is when a woman touches and ululates to a man she regards to be more entertaining.  


Key words: Balete, Batlokwa, Ditlhaka, Dikgosi, Kgotla, Motlhami, Motlhabi, Kopano, Go thaurisa