Patterns of Identity Loss in Trans-Cultural Contact Situations Between Bantu and Khoesan Groups in Western Botswana

Herman M. BATIBO


According to Lamy (1979) and Pool (1979), ethnic identity comprises four distinctive features, namely linguistic identity, cultural identity, autonymic identity and ethnonymic identity. When an ethnic group is losing its identity because of pressure or attraction from a major or dominant ethnic group in a marked bilingualism situation (Batibo, 1992, 2005), the loss is usually progressive, starting from linguistic identity and ending with ethnonymic identity. Although this pattern has been attested in a number of cases, particularly in trans-cultural situations, there have been several
This paper is based on a study which investigated the patterns of ethnic identity loss in western Botswana, Southern Africa, which is both linguistically and culturally complex, due to the co-existence of Bantu and Khoesan groups. The study showed that the ethnic identity loss model can be distorted, where there are factors that have strong impact on people’s lives in terms of fundamental human needs. Also, strong external socio-political pressure, such as restrictions and group domination may contribute to this situation.


Ethnic identity; minority language; Language shift; Autonymic identity; Ethnonymic identity; Trans-cultural relations

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