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Households in the Tswana polities often maintained three residential sites: one in a village, one at agricultural holdings around the village periphery, and one farther out at the cattlepost.Cattleposts, where livestock are kept, are today sometimes complex compounds with several houses and nearby agricultural fields, and sometimes just an animal pen or two and a ramshackle shelter for the herder(s).Herders and agriculturalists from a Bantu tradition appeared more than two-thousand years ago.
In 1885 the British declared the area the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and in a famous visit to Britain in 1895, three of the Tswana kings petitioned to remain under the British instead of being governed by the British South Africa Company.Later, as independence movements emerged across Africa, people from a variety of ethnic groups looked forward to independence and formed political parties. Independence was granted to the newly named Republic of Botswana in 1966. As a new nation, Botswana emphasized nonethnic citizenship and liberal democracy.Diamonds were discovered soon after independence was granted, and the prudent and equitable use of their revenues has underwritten stability and the repeated reelection of the dominant political party. The domination of the country by the Tswana polities has persisted in a nonethnic government through the easy assumption of the predominance of Tswana people, language, and customs.Many urban residents today continue to maintain a house in a village of origin, and many men and some women also develop cattleposts.Villages are distinguished from towns and cities by a significant engagement in agriculture by residents, and by the political structure of the settlement.