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Sepedi Language, Tradition, Religion & Food

Language

Sepedi or Pedi (Northern Sotho or Sesotho SA Leboa) is a Sotho – Tswana language spoken in the Northeastern provinces of South Africa. It is spoken in Gauteng, Limpopo, and parts of the Mpumalanga provinces. The language is spoken by over 9 million people in South Africa.

A report on the South African national census of 2011 revealed that Sepedi is the first language of over 4.6 million people (9.1) in the country. This makes it the 5th most spoken language in South Africa. According to Wikipedia, Sepedi was used as the “umbrella” term for the entire language family spoken by people in Northern Sotho.

The language can also be heard as far as  in Botswana. SA-Venues reports, “It is part of the Bantu group, which belongs to the Niger- sector and it is very closely connected to the Setswana and Sesotho languages.”

Sepedi is written in the Latin alphabet. According to Wikipedia, it “can be added to the letters e and o to distinguish their different sounds, but it is mostly used in language reference books. Some word prefixes, especially in verbs, are written separately from the stem.”

Tradition

Like many cultures we are familiar with, Sepedi has its own set of traditions that are separate from the usual. People with an interest in African culture have come to respect Sepedi wedding ceremonies. Before it happens, the closest family members of the bride and groom meet separately to discuss the wedding and the payment of the bride price (lobola).

The family of the bride (parents especially) request specific items from the groom’s family before giving out their daughter in marriage. The items could include money, livestock, liquor, gift items, etc. The Sepedi wedding is not held in a church. It happens at the home of the bride or groom. The bride dresses up, then goes to the river to collect water and wood for the wedding. Her dress, dintepa, is made of cowhide. The groom can wear a suit on the day.

When the bride has collected water and done tasks assigned to her, she walks to her husband-to-be while her grandmother sweeps the ground to “clear her way.” The guests rush to congratulate the couple once they are married.

Religion

The Sepedi people believe in their ancestors and gods. They believe their ancestors are a medium for them to communicate with their gods about their needs. They also believe that at the right time, their young men and women go to initiation school. See more information here.

Food

According to an article on Kruger Park, traditional Pedi food consists of “thophi (a meal which is made from maize mixed with a fruit called lerotse), morogo wa dikgopana (spinach cooked and given a round shape and left to dry up in the sun).” They also eat Bogobe ba mabele, samp, maswi (milk), masonja (mopane worms), vegetables, and fruits, including milo and machilo.

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