The Pedi
South African Culture

Pedi was previously used to describe Sotho-speakers of Mpumalanga and Northern Province in South Africa. More recently, these groups have been renamed Northern Sotho. 

©Dr Peter Magubane
Pedi initiates circle an elder.

The Pedi, as more narrowly understood, are part of the Highveld Sotho who live on the plateau around Pietersburg. Other Northern Sotho subgroups, over many of whom the Pedi once held sway, are the Lowveld Sotho along and below the Drakensberg Escarpment, and the Eastern Sotho in the Mapulaneng district, towards Lydenburg.

Development in Pedi Society

Subsequent to their defeat at the hands of the British, the Pedi were relegated to a series of officially designated reserves. Foremost among these was the Pedi heartland, Sekhukhuneland....more

Gender Division in Pedi Society

Pedi culture traditionally distinguished sharply between the sexes at all levels. This affected every sphere of their lives, from the knots to tie their clothes with men using reef-knots and women granny-knots...more

History of the Pedi

By the height of their power the Pedi or Maroteng, under the leadership of Thulare (about 1790—1820), were launching frequent, successful raids on the surrounding peoples....more

Individual Development of the Pedi

Like other Bantu-speaking peoples, a Pedi marriage (lenyalo) does not just legalize a relationship between individuals: it is a group concern, legalizing a relationship between families....more

Pedi Arts and Crafts

Important Pedi crafts include pottery, house-painting, woodworking (especially making drums), metalsmithing and beadwork. Traditional music (mmino wa setso) has a six-note scale...more

Pedi Social Organisation

Like the Sotho and Tswana, the Pedi, in pre-conquest times, lived in large villages divided into kgoro groups centred on family clusters favouring the paternal line....more

Political Organisation of the Pedi

The Pedi once held sway over most of the area flanked by the Limpopo, Vaal and Komati rivers. Their power centralized in what is today known as Sekhukhuneland...more

The Female Pedi Initiation Process

On the day the male Pedi bogwera initiation session ended, the byale (the girls' initiation) began. Only girls who had undergone a puberty ceremony were eligible to be initiated....more

The Male Pedi Initiation Process

The timing of initiation, which was (and is) always in midwinter, was dependent on the presence of a high-ranking son or grandson of a chief among the initiates....more

The Pedi of South Africa

According to oral tradition, the Pedi can be traced back to the Maroteng, an offshoot of the Kgatla, today an important component of the Tswana....more