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A Chief Called 'Woman': Historical Perspectives on the Changing Face of Bogosi (Chieftainship) in Botswana, 1834-2004

Yonah Hisbon Matemba


The paper shows that in Botswana traditional attitudes are changing allowing women to challenge old age patriarchal customs previously barring them from being appointed chiefs in their own right. The paper traces incidents in the historical literature to reveal occasions when royal women were allowed to rule but only as regents and in many cases as influential female royals. This is followed by a discussion of the recent appointment of women who have for the first time been installed as chiefs in their own right. Next, an examination of the kind of public issues the female chiefs have addressed since their appointment and the controversy generated by some of their pronouncements and views is made. The argument in this paper is that the recent appointment of women as chiefs should be understood within the wider context of the tremendous and noteworthy progress the country is making in promoting the status of women in social, economic and political life.

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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