Sepedi - South African Language Sepedi

/ Sepedi is also referred to as Sesotho sa Laboa or Northern Sotho / Sepedi
South African Languages

Sepedi (Northern Sotho) Language

Sepedi Lady
Sepedi Woman

Sepedi is also sometimes referred to as Sesotho sa Laboa or Northern Sotho. The language of Sepedi is spoken by approximately 4.7 million individuals and it is one of the 11 official languages in South Africa.

The Sepedi language is spoken most commonly in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Limpopo provinces. However, smatterings of it can even be heard as far afield as Botswana. It is part of the Bantu group, which belongs to the Niger-Congo sector and it is very closely connected to the Setswana and Sesotho languages. As with many religions and cultures, the Sepedi culture has its own defined set of traditions.

The wedding ceremonies of the Sepedi have earned them respect and popularity amongst those interested in African cultures. The closest family members of the bride and groom meet together ahead of time to discuss the wedding and, more importantly, the lobola (or bride price).

The bride’s family (usually her parents) request certain items from the groom’s parents in exchange for their daughter. The usual items include money and livestock, but they are not limited in the variety of things for which they can ask (whether premium liquor, property, gift vouchers or appliances).

A Sepedi wedding is not held in a church but at the home of the bride or groom. Once the bride is dressed for her wedding, she will go down to the river and collect enough water and wood for the ceremony. Her dress will be made from cow hide and is called a dintepa. The groom may choose to wear a suit for the big day.

When the bride has collected enough water and wood, and completed other tasks set for her, she is ready to walk to her husband-to-be. As she walks, her grandmother sweeps the floor in front of her to “clear her way”. The ceremony and performance makes or very exciting celebrations.

Once the couple has been married, the guests will rush to congratulate them. Then, a cow or sheep is slaughtered and the meat divided equally among the two families. When these formalities are over, the fun begins. Music, dancing, eating and drinking are typical of the Sepedi wedding celebrations.

Did you know?
A member of the North Sotho tribe, the legendary Rain Queen, Modjadji, was the most famous rain-maker on the subcontinent, believed by many to be immortal.

Sepedi (Northern Sotho) Language

Useful Words / Phrases

A few words that might be useful should you visit a place where Sepedi is spoken:
Hello – “Dumela”
Goodbye – “Gabotse”
How are you? – “O kae”
I am fine – “Ke Gona”
Yes – “ee”
No – “aowa”
How much is this? – “Ke bokae”

View South African Languages

Did You Know?
There are 11 officially recognised languages, most of which are indigenous to South Africa. English is spoken everywhere you go. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government and official documents. All our road signs and official forms are in English and at any South African Hotel, Bed and Breakfast or Guest House the service staff will speak to you in English. is not a booking agent and does not charge any commission or service fees to users of this site. You Deal Direct and Save on your bookings for accommodation in South Africa. If you prefer to search for hotels in South Africa by map, select "Search by Map" in the main menu at the top of the pages. Below you will find a set of editor selected links to related pages and destinations which you may find useful for planning your trip to South Africa.
The Sepedi Language and Culture
South AfricaSouth Africa