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Seswaa – Botswana National Dish – Day 65/Dish 33

March 15, 2010

Somehow, this recipe and country were left off the master list.  I noticed it while perusing my Rand McNally World M series map.  And so we are backtracking to make sure we are thorough and do not leave anyone out. 

To get to Botswana from the Central African Republic, we head due south overland, passing through the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.  Botswana is located in central southern Africa. Bordering it to the south is South Africa followed by Namibia and Zimbabwe.  It intersects Zambia at only one point.  Its geography is flat and 70% is covered by the Kalahari Desert. 

Botswana is known for its abundance of animals.  Over 17% of the country has been preserved for wildlife habitat and it houses the world’s largest population of Elephants with approximately 140,000 animals.

Botswana is the leader in regional economic stability.  The map below shows the worlds GDP by purchasing power parity (PPP) and if you look at southern Africa, you will see one country in blue (above the global average).  That is Botswana.  The central government has wisely created an economic system that does not interfere with the free market, and encourages foreign investment by creating a stable society.  This has caused Botswana to thrive along with several of its neighbors.

Botswana was an English Colony until 1966 when it became free from colonial rule.  Since that time, Botswana has held free and fair elections and is a generally safe and stable place to visit. Botswana’s government is progressive by African standards.  The official embassy page of Botswana in Tokyo has an interesting series of thoughts under the “Culture and Traditions – Beliefs, Values and Practices” button.  The following paragraph is very telling regarding the core beliefs of Botswana society:

“Setswana society expects and requires its members to have “botho”, which is derived from “motho” (a human being). Botho refers to the possession of the good attributes associated with a good human being, in other words, qualifying one to be called a human being.

Any person, regardless of his/her social standing, who is found wanting in any of those positive attributes that constitute a motho, is regarded as having ‘no botho’.

The yardstick for botho is a package of positive human attributes, including good-manners (maitseo), kindness, compassion, humility, respect, and living up to the expectations of society and one’s particular role.

In short, botho can be referred to as a yardstick for good behaviour which is consistent with the expectations and cultural norms of Setswana society. That code of behaviour includes good manners, helpfulness, politeness, humility and consideration for others, respect for older people and many more positive attributes expected of a human being”.

Another of the cultural aspects of Botswana that would be of interest to outsiders is the music.  This link will take you to a page on Botswanan music.  A modern mix of Reggae, R&B and hip hop is popular with the younger generations while folk, jazz and traditional music are also part of the fabric of Botswanan culture.    

Botswana’s national dish is Seswaa.  This stewed beef that is then pounded with salt to season and served over Pap with gravy is simple and hearty.  I give it a 1 for difficulty.  Anyone can cook this recipe.  The only special equipment you will need is a meat mallet to pound the beef after cooking.



Appearance:  1 out of 5

Aroma: 2 out of 5

Flavor: 4 out of 5

Total: 7 out of 15 (that being said, I like this dish, it just is not pretty or aromatic <It does smell beefy though>)


1Kilo Beef Brisket or other similar cut such as London Broil or Flank Steak

1 large onion diced

Pepper to season

Salt to taste


Rinse the beef and pat it dry.  Place it in a sauce pan with the onion and pepper and cover with water.

Simmer for 150 minutes.

Pound the meat till it shreds and softens. (Hint: cube it first)

Serve with Ugali (Pap, or mealie meal) and gravy

To thicken and season the pot liquor slowly add corn starch and cold water (about 4 tbsp Corn Starch mixed with cold water thickened to a paste) to the liquid till it begins to thicken then add salt to taste. is where the majority of my African Recipes are found.  It is a great resource for African traditional cooking.



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