White Wedding in Itsoseng #5: Slaughtering Lambs


Traditionally, Tswana herded cattle, goats and sheep.  Though today they usually buy their meat at a butcher shop in Lichtenburg, for this special occasion, the Molales adhered to their traditions in every way they could.  Live lambs were brought in.  They were killed and butchered in the extended back yard, just as they would have been in the village in previous centuries.

The lambs were carried into the back yard bundled up in bright plastic.  Then they were then tied up to the post. They exhibited no awareness of their impending fate.

Delivering the Sheep

Delivering the Sheep

Earlier, as they were taking down the fence that separated the Molale’s yard from their neighbor’s, I saw people digging a trench at the edge of the property.  I wondered what it was about.  This trench is not visible in the picture below but it is along the fence.  It was used to collect the blood.


Cutting the Throat

Two of the animals were killed that night.  One was kept alive, to be killed after the magadi as part of the ritual joining the two families.

After the animals were killed, they were skinned and butchered.


This work was done exclusively by men.

2015-01-15 sheep afterItsoseng_174

I don’t have pictures of the intestines being cleaned, but barely anything from the animal  was thrown away. Even the feet were shaved, so that they could be added to the stew.

Particular attention was given to the head, which was considered a delicacy.   The man shown below spent an hour or more carefully shaving the head.

Itsoseng_031 Itsoseng_033


They call it “Smiley”


Motshidisi (bride’s aunt), Mapula (sister), Themba (groomsman), Matebogo (sister), and a neighbor displaying the head

Once they were done, they put the carcass in the rented refrigerator to keep until it was cooked.

2015-01-16 03.51.52 2015-01-16 10.52.34

Although I suspect that a US trained inspector would have been appalled at the scene, I thought the whole operation was quite clean.  I did not notice any unpleasant smell from the lambs or the meat, which, of course, was still quite fresh when it was cooked.

The lamb was cooked in a simple stew until the meat was falling off the bone.  It was delicious.


One thought on “White Wedding in Itsoseng #5: Slaughtering Lambs

  1. Pingback: White Wedding in Itsoseng: Contents | jplund

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