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Public meeting place or Kgotla.(Botswana)

A kgotla (English pronunciation /ˈkt.lə/[1] or /kˈɡɒt.lə/)[2] is a public meeting, community council or traditional law court of a Botswana village. It is usually headed by the village chief or headman, and community decisions are always arrived at by consensus. Anyone at all is allowed to speak, and no one may interrupt while someone is "having their say". In fact there is a Setswana saying that the highest form of war is dialogue (ntwa kgolo ke ya molomo). Because of this tradition, Botswana claims to be one of the world's oldest democracies.[3][4]

The custom of allowing everyone their full say is carried over into meetings of all kinds, from discussing a bill to a staff briefing, and can mean meetings last many hours.[5]

Kgotla can also refer to the place where such meetings are held. This can range from a few chairs under a shade canopy to a permanent ground with covered seating. In both senses, the term is a loan word in Botswana English from Setswana, where it means court.[6]

In South African English, a lekgotla is a meeting called by government to discuss strategy planning. The term is still a loan word from Setswana, again meaning court.[7][8]


  1. ^ "How to pronounce kgotla". Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  2. ^ "kgotla". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Admin (2018-02-08). "Africa's Top 5 most politically-stable countries". IOA. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  4. ^ Acemoglu, Daron; Robinson, James (2012). Why Nations Fail. London: Profile Books. p. 407. ISBN 978 1 84668 429 6.
  5. ^ Piwane, Moumakwa. "The Botswana Kgotla System: A mechanism for Traditional Conflict Resolution in modern Botswana. Case study of the Kanye Kgotla" (PDF).
  6. ^ "kgotla - definition of kgotla in A Dictionary of South African English - DSAE". Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  7. ^ "Lekgotla definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  8. ^ "LEKGOTLA (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary". Retrieved 2020-05-30.

External links[edit]

  • [1] Retrieved 21 May 2008. Example of use in South African context