Do you know your Setswana feminist ABCs?

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In addition to bridging generational linguistic gaps, the Setswana dictionary was inspired by African manifestations of feminism like those portrayed by West African femme warriors: the Dahomey Amazons. (Wikimedia Commons)
In addition to bridging generational linguistic gaps, the Setswana dictionary was inspired by African manifestations of feminism like those portrayed by West African femme warriors: the Dahomey Amazons. (Wikimedia Commons)
  • In 2016 Pontsho Pilane and  Lorato Palesa Modongo partnered to write a Setswana dictionary. 
  • Modongo is a social psychologist and Pilane a journalist, they are both lecturers in their respective fields.
  • Taking on the form of transformative ABCs, the dictionary’s terms span from ableism to nonbinary pronoun ze. 


Ableism (ist): Kgatelelo le tshotlako ya batho ba ba golafetseng mo mmeleng kgotsa mo tlhaloganyong

Abortion: Tshenyo boimana

Activism: Tiro ya go tlhatlosa le go fetola ditshwanelo tsa batho ka maikaelelo a go tlisa phetogo mo setšhabeng

(Gender) activist: Mofetoladilo mo dikgang le ditiro tse di amanang le bong

(Human rights) activist: Molwela ditshwanelo tsa batho

Body shaming: Nyenyafatso le tshotlo ya mebele ya batho

Body positivity: Netefatso le kgothatso ya mebele e e farologaneng

Cisgender: Motho o bong ba gagwe bo tsamaisanyang le botonanyana kgotsa bonamagadi ba gagwe

Cishet (cisgender heterosexual): Motho o bong ba gagwe bo tsamaisanyang le botonanyana kgotsa bonamagadi ba gagwe gape a nang le kgatlhego mo bathong ba bong bo bo fapaneng le ja gagwe

Domestic violence: Kgokgontso ya mo malapeng

(Gender) equality: Ga ditshwanelo le ditshono tsa batho di sa angwe ke bong ba bona

Femicide: Dipolao tsa bomme/basadi

Feminism: Tumelo mo ditshwanelong le kgololesego ya bomme/basadi

Feminist: Modumedi mo ditshwanelong le kgololesego ya bomme/basadi

Gay: Monna o o ratanang, le go tlhakanela dikobo le banna ba bangwe

Gender: Bong

Heterosexual: Motho o a nang le kgatlhego mo bathong ba bo bong bo bo farologaneng le ja gagwe

Homosexual: Motho o a nang le kgatlhego mo bathong ba bo bong bo tshwanang le ja gagwe

Intersectionality: Thuto ka mokgwa o dikgatelelo tsa letso, bong le maemo di kopanang

Intersex: Motho o tlhakantseng di karolo tsa botonanyana le bonamagadi Intimate partner violence: Kgokgontso ya baratani kgotsa banyalani

(Social) justice: Tlhokokgobelelo e amanang le tlhatloso ya ditshwanelo tsa batho

Kyriarchy: Tsamaiso ya kgobelelo le kgatelelo mo setšhabeng

Lesbian: Mosadi o o ratanang, le go tlhakanela dikobo le basadi ba bangwe

Male privilege: Tlotla e e faphegileng e fiwang banna, fela ka gore ke ba bong joo

Masculinity: Mekgwa le boitshwaro jo bo rileng, e e tsamaisanang le go nna monna mo setšhabeng

Misogynoir: Kgobelelo ya basadi ba bantsho

Misogyny: Kgobelelo ya basadi

Nonbinary (gender nonconforming): Motho o tebego ya gagwe e sa netefatseng bong ba gagwe

Objectification: Go leba, kgotsa go tshwara motho, segolo jang mosadi, jaaka sedirisiwa

Oppression: Kgatelelo

Patriarchy: Tsamaiso kakaretso ya setšhaba, e e fang banna marapo le maatla a go busa le go gatlaka basadi

Privilege: Tlotla e faphegileng e e fiwang setlhopa sengwe sa batho, fela ka gore ba wela mo setlhopheng seo

Queer: Lefoko kakaretso la batho ba ba se nang kgatlhego mo bathong ba bong bo bo fapaneng

Rape culture: Mekgwa e setšhaba se nolofatsang kgonagalo le tiragalo ya petelelo le kgokgontsho e amanang le tsa thobalano

Rape: Petelelo/Thubetso

Sex: Bong go ya ka botonanyana kgotsa bonamagadi

Sexual intercourse: Thobalano, Morobalo

Sex workers: Bagwebi/badiri ka mmele

Street harassment: Äœo leba, kgotsa go tshwara motho, segolo jang mosadi, jaaka sedirisiwa mo pepeneneng

Toxic masculinity: Mekgwa le boitshwaro jo bo bosula, bo bo tsamaisanang le go nna monna mo setšhabeng, mme e nolofatsa kgatelelo ya basadi le banna ba bangwe

Victim blaming: Go tshwaya phoso batswa-setlhabelo ba borukhutli jo bo amanang le petelelo kgotsa kgatatelelo ya basadi

White privilege: Tlotla e e faphegileng e fiwang batho basweu, fela ka gore ke ba letso leo

X (Referring to Mx, pronounced mix): Maemo a a fiwang motho o o tebego ya gagwe e sa netefatseng bong ba gagwe

Ze (A pronoun some nonbinary people use instead of “he” or “she”, pronounced zee): Maemedi a puo ya Setswana, jaaka dipuo tse dingwe tsa batho bantsho, ga a tlhaole batho ka bong*

* Many African languages, including Setswana, don’t have gender-specific pronouns

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