Physical Description: Axe made from a pointed wrought iron cylinder beaten out into a cutting end, with a knobbed wooden handle.
Contextual Description: Another battle axe… Transcription by KL of MAC_BB_20190817_RPM3 SL Interview with Tshupo Ntono, Village Elder, Language: Setswana with English translations by SL, 2019
Contextual Description: [SL, referring to a axe that OT is using] I just said, I’ve been to all kinds of hardwares I don’t remember walking into one where they were selling this so I would like to know where he gets them.

This tool, I make it myself, its self-made.

I find a piece of scrap metal maybe a spring blade from a vehicle for example which I’ll put in some hot coals until its all red, then I take a hammer I use a piece of rail, that’s what I use as my anvil and I put this thing there and I hit it to give it shape. Even on the side, I work on it. Then once it takes shape the next thing is to go and cut a piece of wood to make a handle. [to] which I will make an opening like a hole, starting with like a knife working my way in. And then I’ll also use a hot rod to make the opening bigger later I’ll bend this end and push the blade inside the handle up until where I feel it’s the right spot to end and then I’ll start sharpening it and giving it more shape. That is how a carving axe is made. Transcription by KL of MAC_BB_20190821_RPM8 SL Interview with Otwaetse Tona, carver. Language: Setswana with English translations by SL, 2019
Contextual Description: SL 1:40:01
there is ...the battle axe [but these] are more cutting axes, like for wood cutting and also

WT 1:40:15
is it like this

SL 1:40:18
and also for working leather when tanning this is still used.

The above notes are from a transcription by Kathleen Lawther of a discussion between Gase Kediseng, JoAnn McGregor, Nicola Stylianou, Scobie Lekhuthile and Winani Thebele which took place at the Khama III Memorial Museum on the 5th of August 2019. To listen to the full recording please follow the link below.


Making African Connections


Pre 1899




Whole: 550 mm x 210 mm x 55 mm
Wood; Iron




Collected by Reverend William Charles Willoughby, a Christian missionary, in what was then the Bechuanaland Protectorate (1885-1966). It is now the Republic of Botswana, having gained independence from Britain in 1966.
From 1889-92 Willoughby was pastor at Union Street Church, Brighton (now The Font pub). From 1893 to 1898 he worked for the London Missionary Society in Bechuanaland. He assembled this collection of objects during this period. This was a period of social and technological changes and these objects represent traditional lifestyles and skills, rather than the contemporary lives of the people Willoughby met.

Willoughby's collection was loaned to Brighton Museum in 1899 when he returned to the UK. The loan was converted into a donation in 1936, and accessioned as acquisition R4007.

Some objects were re-numbered with the WA (World Art) numbering system in the 2000s. These numbers have been reverted to the original R4007/... numbers where possible for consistency in 2019.
William Charles Willoughby
Botswana, Southern Africa, Africa


Botswana, Southern Africa, Africa
Cultural Group: Tswana


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