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The establishment of Bakwena capital

Article: Baleseng Batlotleng

Photo: Gontle Merafhe

To be precise the setting up of the present day kgotla was finally done in 1937. This was after tireless efforts by undoubtedly the greatest Bakwena traditional leader of all time Kgosi Kgari Sechele II who had ambitions of knitting together a fragmented tribe. The British authorities encouraged his administration to speed up the resettlement of the Bakwena capital from Ntsweng to present day Molepolole. Earlier, Bakwena had settled at Dimawe and gallantly repulsed Boer invasion during the infamous Boer War 1. Sechele I who ruled the tribe from 1833 to 1892 led his subjects out of Dimawe and moved to Kolobeng where he met renowned missionary David Livingstone. Again oral traditions indicate that Kgosi Sechele led his tribe out of Kolobeng to look for greener pastures and ended up in some fertile grounds to the west of present day Molepolole only known as Dithejwane. Sadly there was yet another Boer incursion and a fatal mosquito outbreak that claimed lives and killed cattle. Once again Bakwena relocated from Dithejwane to Ntsweng and desolately while they were still enjoying the calmness of their new location their great leader Kgosi Sechele passed on. 

“Dipolelo tse re di utlwileng ka batsadi ke gore ha mogolo a tlhokahala golo, go a bo go na le bo madimabe, go na le sehihi sa gagwe le tumelo ya gore ka ha a neng a thaile motse ka teng, yo o tsenang atle a ithaele motse wa gagwe ko helong le leshwa…..ke gone mo e neng ere ha Kgosi e tlhokahala ngwana wa gagwe a huduge a ye go thaa motse wa gagwe ha pele ka dibetsa tsa gagwe tse di mo lebaneng……” echoes the Bakwena tribesman Kgosi Keineetse Sebele in a wide ranging interview with Kutlwano at the Molepolole main kgotla. 

Kgosi Keineetse explains that Sechele I, credited by many for the valiant achievement of laying a foundation for his tribe was succeeded by his son Sebele I of the “Three Dikgosi” fame. 

“ Sebele I o ne a ratile ha motse o ka huduga ha Rraagwe a tlhokahaletseng teng mme ga nna jalo yare ka 1907 ga hudugelwa ko Borakalalo mme bontlha bongwe jwa sala ka ko Ntsweng. A tswelela ka go busa morafe  wa ko Ntsweng le Borakalalo. Yare ka 1911 ga tswa Naledi e tona ko botlhabatsatsi e tsamaela ko phirima mme ya kgoma lekgabana ga kgokologa letlapa la itaa ko tlase mme Bakwena ba re go itaagane Sedumedi!...magosi a merafe e mengwe a belesa dipitse batla go bona gore go diragetseng mme ba fitlhela ele gore morafe o sokile ditlhogo ka ko Ntsweng Kgosi Sebele I a letse a tlhokafetse,” Keineetse explains.

As was the norm with the chieftainship succession plan Sebele’s son Kealeboga Sechele II took over and tried to relocate the tribe to Borakalalo but like his father ended up administering over a divided community. And to make matters worse by the time of Kealeboga’s death seven years later the tribe was so much fragmented and his son Kelebantse Sebele II who succeeded him was soon banished to Ghanzi by the colonial administrators from the Imperial Reserve Mafikeng. 

Now came a turning point in the history of the Bakwena during the installation of Kebadire Kgari Sechele II who through the aid of the British government was tasked with bringing the tribe together. Kgari Sechele II was tasked with creating a new settlement for Bakwena and the first relocations took place in 1932.  

 Revered as Bakwena’s charismatic and visionary leader Kgari also led a troop of Bakwena troops to the World War. As fate would have it Kgari had no children and there was no one to succeed him after his death. His death undoubtedly ushered in internal feuds at the main kgotla as to who was the rightful heir of the Bakwena throne with some cases being decided by the court of Law. Despite the internal bickering’s Bakwena have recognized their present Kgosi Kgari Sechele III as their Kgosi. 

Ntsweng still remains an historical site before resettlement of the tribe in 1937 to the present day Molepolole. Remains of Mohumagadi Phetogo Sechele (Kealeboga Sechele II’s wife) house also known as Kwa Ga-Mmakgosi are still visible and declared a national monument. The remains of the German Lutheran Church where Hermannsburg Missionaries used to work amongst the Bakwena at Dithejwane Hills are also visible.

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