Botlhale jwa phaka bo tswa phalaneng

Text: “Botlhale jwa phaka bo tswa phalaneng.”

Translation: The intelligence of the antelope comes from the calf.


B: “This saying symbolizes that the future belongs to the next generation. Young people are the future of the world. It tells us to look to the younger generation to solve the problems of today. We [his generation] can’t solve them because it was created by our paradigm. To solve community issues, we need young people to approach to find a solution through their unencumbered paradigm.”

B is a middle aged man who was born and raised in Gaborone, Botswana and lives there currently. This is a common phrase in Setswana —the national language of Botswana— used as a metaphor to express that it is not only the old that have the capability to be wise, but the young do as well. B first learned this phrase from his parents in his childhood (1970s/80s). 

B claims to refer back to this phrase often in his consultancy work, often looking to his younger employees to offer a completely different perspective and experience to his own. Additionally, he relates this phrase to Africa as an entity. With around 60% of the population being under 25, B believes that it is the youth —with their unencumbered creativity, talent, energy, and problem solving— that will spearhead growth into the African continent. 


This metaphor encapsulates the characteristics of the people of Botswana. Traditionally, respect is an incredibly important attribute to have and show to all others in the community regardless of age or status. This phrase highlights the calf —youth— as being just as important and capable of contributing something of worth —intelligence— to its elders and community. It is representative of the importance not to dismiss others because they are seemingly “less” than you.