Vol.23 No.123

Monday 21 August 2006    
   Cartoon Strip  
   Business Week  
   Arts/Culture Review  
Defiant Moeng Vows To Soldier On

By Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe

8/21/2006 5:01:18 PM (GMT +2)

The parting shot was punchy and to the point, accompanied by shouts of Pula from the dispersing throng. "Let us respect one another. That child is our paramount chief, according to the law for now. We will come back. We will call you. We have amazing information that would shock you. We want to pass it on to you before we die," vowed George Moeng, a claimant to the Bakwena paramount chief's throne held by Kgosi Kgari Sechele III at a Kgotla meeting he called at his Ntloedibe ward last Saturday to press his bid.

Though the meeting did not go as planned after Kgari wrote a letter warning him against the move, Moeng appears to have new energy after the long hiatus since he stunned everybody last year by saying that he is the rightful Bakwena paramount chief.

Before the meeting dispersed, there was debate whether Kgari's letter had any force in law. This came after Moeng's eldest son Moses, read the missive to the gathering. Torn between the desire to address the people and the fear of Kgari, the Moengs called journalists and whoever is interested to their house to brief them about the agenda of the meeting. But a close relative to the Moengs, Neo Motlhabane demanded that the press briefing be conducted at the Kgotla. He was against the idea of a press conference being conducted at Moeng's compound when he has a Kgotla. He demanded that the Kgotla meeting be briefed about the main points of the agenda.

"The Kgari Secheles have their own culture. They should not interfere with our affairs. You must conduct the interview here, explaining to us what you called the Kgotla meeting for," demanded Motlhabane who seemed to be in control of the proceedings. When a man who was identified only as Poloko asked if continuing to speak at the Kgotla is unlawful due to Kgari's letter, Motlhabane was defiant. He told the meeting that there is nothing illegal with going ahead with the meeting. As if to prove his point, Motlhabane, who shares the same grandfather with Moeng quipped: "When we hold our usual Kgotla meetings here, do we usually seek the Kgosi's permission?" The answer from Moeng was a no. "So why do we need his permission now, since we are not addressing the meeting at his Kgotla," he said in disgust.

Motlhabane spoke at length about how people from Ntloedibe ward have suffered in the past under Kgari and colonial rule. He said there are a lot of things about the history of Ntloedibe ward and its people that need to be known. He said that the Ntloedibe people are the true builders of Molepolole because they resisted the colonial government when it sought to relocate the village in the 1960s. He seemed to enjoy every moment as he sat cross-legged, bespectacled, with a royal hat to complete his authoritative posture. Another speaker Nametso Lesego also tried at length to influence the meeting to go ahead. He dismissed Kgari's letter as unclear. "He does not supervise this ward. This ward does not directly fall under him; Kgari supervises Mokalake's ward which supervises Moeng's ward, so we can continue with the meeting."

But Lesego, who had to be reminded time and again to speak in Setswana, was disappointed when one Sibisibi wa Phaleng told him that Kgari wrote the letter in respect to the meeting. "He knew that this meeting has been planned. That is why he wrote to Moeng who called the Kgotla meeting, so you can't say the Kgosi does not understand what he is saying." This statement provoked Lesego, who in turn used sarcastic language against Phaleng. An old man from the crowd had to rebuke Lesego and remind him that it is high time he changes his attitude towards other people.

Opposition politician Lemogang Ntime stressed the importance of learning about one's origins. He said that although others believe that Masilo (Moeng's ancestors) ruled way back in pre-historic times, his knowledge of history informs him that the Ntloedibe people lost the Bakwena chieftainship in 1911.

It was the comments from the common people though that made it difficult for the Moeng's to proceed with the meeting despite being urged to do so by some close relatives. Speaker after speaker advised Moeng not to entertain journalists. "This will be tantamount to rebellion. The Kgosi has spoken, and he should not be tested," commented a member of the crowd as the meeting heated up.

It was clear from the proceedings that had the majority of the people demanded that the meeting continue, it would have gone ahead, but the Ntloedibe officials knew they had to tread with caution lest they find themselves acting against the people's will. Send us your comments about Mmegi newspaper Search For Old Newspaper Editions To advertise contact us through email

Mmegi, 2002
Developed by Cyberplex Africa