Introduction / History The Khwe that live in the Ngamiland region in the Okavango Delta number a few thousand. They live both along the river in the bush and also in the swampland of the Delta. The Khwe use canoes on the river for transportation and in the bush they employ donkey carts or walk. Their dwellings are constructed of sticks covered with either grass or a mud/manure mixture.
They traditionally were a hunter/gatherer community but have recently been settled by the government and prohibited from practicing their traditional lifestyle. They still gather some food in the form of nuts, plants, and fish, but the majority of their food is provided by the government in the form of sorghum, tea, sugar, and flour. Their family structure is patriarchal, meaning that the lineage of a family is traced through the father, and patrilocal, meaning that when married, the couple resides in the husband's father's village. The community is egalitarian with decisions requiring a consensus.
They practice traditional forms of religion including ancestor worship characterized by the trance dance. For enjoyment the people sing and play traditional instruments such as the mouth violin (a hunting bow strung with wire and hit with a stick) but overall the people are depressed due to settlement, marginalization and persecution by the society at large. The needs of the community include medical care due to the high rate of HIV/AIDS infection among the group, education, a means of livelihood, and evangelism. There is no literature in the language of the Khwe and language development is needed and desired by the people.