Mmegi Online :: Remembering the Tigerkloof of Bukalanga
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Last Updated
Thursday 13 December 2018, 12:33 pm.
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Remembering the Tigerkloof of Bukalanga

How many people know that the first post-primary school in Botswana, the Tati Training Institute was the brainchild of none other than Dr Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete of the Fatshe Leno La Rona fame?
By Staff Writer Thu 13 Dec 2018, 23:30 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Remembering the Tigerkloof of Bukalanga








How many really know the exact location of the school, which some people equate to the famous Tigerkloof College of South Africa due to its contribution in provision of education in the country during colonial days?  These questions persistently bothered my mind some time last year in September when I made a memorable visit to the ruins of this legendary school.  The visit was exceptional to me due to the fact that my great grandfather, Mbereki Machucha Chiwidi, was a graduate of the school himself.  He started telling me about the school's fame back in the 1980s when I began schooling at Mampori Memorial School in Marapong.  At that tender age, I began to envy my grandfatherÕs rare opportunity of having been taught by the legendary Dr Kgalemang Motsete.  When my grandfather was laid to rest on December 25, 2001, I developed a serious yearning to visit the ruins of the school that he called with a tinge of academic pride, "the Tigerkloof of Bukalanga".

If you are still confused by my decision to choose to write about an otherwise unknown post-primary school in Botswana, then you need to join me on the journey into the ruins of this school.  The ruins of the Tati Training Institute, the official name of this legendary school, are located some few kilometres east of Mosojane village at a place known as Nyewele.  There are basically two routes that take you directly to these ruins.  You can access the site from Masunga and travel north-eastwards towards Mulambakwena.   If you are coming from Nlapkhwane village, follow the tarred road towards Masunga passing through Zwenshambe village.  There is a sharp curve to the left that leads to Mulambakwena.  At this point, take the gravel road heading eastwards to Mosojane village. 

From Mulambakwena village, there is an excellent gravel road that crosses the Dati (Tati) River through an impressive iron Bailey bridge similarly to the ones used during World War II.  After this bridge, the road takes you through a sparsely built area known as Nyewele. In fact, just less than a kilometre from the bridge, the road passes through the old playing grounds of the Tati Training Institute.

The most prominent ruins of the school are found on the northern end of the old sports ground near a large White Syringa tree locally known as Ndumila.  This area has few remains of what possibly formed part of the house foundations of the accommodation facilities for the teachers and school workers.  It is believed that a fairly large portion of the ruins of the teachersÕ quarters and perhaps the house where Motsete stayed are now fenced off on a nearby farm.

To the south of the old sports ground, you are treated to a large open space with few house foundations and stone features where the classrooms and school hall once stood.  It is difficult to stop imagining adventurous young Bakalanga students, my grandfather among them, being canned here, taught basic algebra, geography and even music by the legendary teacher, theologian, composer and later on politician, Motsete.

If you know that the school was built some time in the 1930s and relocated to Francistown later on, you will not be surprised to find out that little remains of the ÒTigerkloofÓ of the Bukalanga.  However, never fail to remember that these ruins are some of the most remarkable heritage sites showing the sterling contribution that Motsete made for this country during the colonial times.  MotseteÕs roots are traced back to the Bakalanga of Botalaote origin at Old Palapye where he was born on September 24, 1899 to a London Missionary Society pastor.

Having lost his mother at the age of four, Motsete was raised by his father and worked very hard at school.  His outstanding performance at Western School in Serowe earned him a bursary, which allowed him to attend Tigerkloof College in South Africa where he successfully completed Standard Six and a Standard Six Teachers' Certificate in the year 1918.  From Tigerkloof, Motsete enrolled at

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the University of London where he matriculated in Ancient History and Geography, Latin, Mathematics and English in 1924.  Various sources documenting his illustrious career show that by 1928, Motsete obtained two degrees from  the University of London with Honours in Philosophy.  He also obtained training in music while in London and by 1932, while back in Botswana, he acquired Master of Arts as an external student.

When Motsete returned to Botswana, he was considered as a threat by the then regent of Bangwato, Tshekedi Khama.  The regent saw his desire to use his education for the good of his people as a political threat to his rule. It is widely documented that one of Motsete's differences with Tshekedi Khama was the use of regiments or mephato to offer labour for development projects such as the famed Moeng College, which was being built in the Tswapong Hills near Ratholo Village.  Having failed to convince Tshekedi of the need to build a school in Serowe, KTM as he was affectionately known, sought a teaching job in Tigerkloof in 1931 where he was inspired by Bakalanga scholars to develop a plan of building the Tati Training Institute in Bukalanga region in the then Tati District.  It is quite ironic that the school was built by two regiments offered by She John Madawo Nswazwi.

The idea of a school in Bukalanga was happily accepted and many Bakalanga people made contributions such as cattle, grains and even labour to help the completion of the school.  Motsete sought and acquired external donations amounting to $25, 000 (P179,549) from the Carnegie Corporation of America for five consecutive years.  The school became an instant success in the Bukalanga due to its low fees. By 1938, the school was the only post-primary school in the northern parts of Botswana.  It also boasted of some students from as far as Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia.  The school started with a low intake but eventually increased its enrolment to over 100.  Most of the teachers were obtained from South Africa.  The major aim of the school was to teach self-reliance.  All classes were taught in English and Ikalanga.  The subjects Arithmetic, History, Agriculture, Hygiene and Moral Lessons, Prayers and Scripture, and Music were offered to many Bakalanga students who attended this school.  The Tati Training Institute is widely famed for its ability to offer higher standards for primary school education.  Elsewhere in the country, primary schools went to Standard Two only but at Motsete's school, students went up to Standard VI and then sat for a Junior Certificate Exam from Mafikeng.

The success of the Tati Training Institute earned the support of Kgosi Isang Pilane of Bakgatla and Kgosi Kgari of the Bakwena who requested the colonial government that it be supported financially so that it could be equivalent to the well-known Tigerkloof College in South Africa.  Kgosi Tshekedi Khama of the Bangwato, a long time rival of Motsete, lobbied against any plans for government support for the school as he viewed educated Bakalanga as a major threat to his rule.  By 1938, Motsete decided to move his school to Francistown in the hope of finding better funding for it.  At this time, Tshekedi had also issued a rule forbidding Bakalanga living in the then Bangwato Reserve to send their children to MotseteÕs school.  By the time the school closed in 1941 due to lack of funding and the outbreak of World War I, the Tigerkloof of Bukalanga had produced 322 graduates. 

It is widely famed that many of these graduates formed the bulk of the literate Bakalanga who became teachers, policemen, clerks, store managers and revolutionary politicians who championed Botswana's independence from Britain in 1966.  Such is the heritage that the Tigerkloof of Bukalanga and Dr Kgalemang Motsete should be remembered for while you are at the ruins of the Tati Training Institute.The Tati Training Institute ruins are in the process of being declared a National Monument and form part of the Greater Francistown Heritage Trail.

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