Women Chiefs and Pre-colonial Tswana Patriarchy

Main Article Content

Bruce S Bennett


It has usually been held that in traditional Tswana society women could not be dikgosi (chiefs) in their
own right, though they could be regents. However, the historical record indicates that although it was not
common, women could in some circumstances be dikgosi. Indeed, one of the traditional morafe (chiefdom
or polity) founders (Mohurutshe/Lehurutshe) is said to have been a woman. Female chiefs seem to have
constructed themselves as ‘social males’, which helped resolve the problems posed by agnatic succession
but which may have increased the tendency to erase the memory of them. Comparisons with other Sotho-
Tswana societies can be helpful in analysing the issue.

Article Details