Now pause and imagine with me for a while dear reader. Imagine the first time Batswana encountered shoes, possibly on the feet of a white man. They should have thought them to be very interesting, perhaps even weird. They should have looked at the shoes and wondered what they would call them. They looked at the shoes and then looked at the hooves of their cows. They looked at the shoes again and back to the hooves of their beasts and saw no difference between the shoes and the hooves. The shoes were human hooves. ‘These white men have made hooves for their own feet!’ they might have exclaimed. And that’s how probably shoes like hooves are now called ditlhako because they looked like tlhako, a hoof, of the Tswana beasts.
The Mosotho man arrived at the name for shoes differently. To him shoes were special. He didn’t have to wear them everyday. He kept them safe tucked under his bed. Everyday he walked barefoot. Shoes were to be worn when visiting others since one had to present himself to others with their feet covered – a most impressive sign of being cultured. The shoes gained a new name and transformed the Sotho lexicon forever, “dieta” (a noun derivative of the verb “eta” – visit) was born.