Last week’s instalment featured the coming power of Kgosi Motshodi’s grandson Motswasele I (not to be confused with his great-grandson Motswasele II) among the Bakwena as well as that of his Bangwaketse counterpart Kgosi Moleta.
Both dikgosi assumed their thrones following the deaths in battle of their fathers, Legojane and Mongala respectively. Both dikgosi are further remembered as having been gifted war leaders who appear to have significantly escalated the military capacity of their respective merafe. This process in each case can be traced to their coming together in the wake of Mongala’s death to make common cause against Mabelang’s breakaway Bakgwatheng. In the course of said campaign, Mabeleng’s son Seeiso was captured along with his surviving followers and taken back to the Bangwaketse centre at Seoke. There Seeiso, himself, was allowed to form his own ward, which survives to this day in Kanye, while most of the rest of Bakgwatheng were distributed as batlhanka among various Bangwaketse lineages. Some Bakgwatheng fled south to join the Barolong, while others moved westward to the Matsheng region, where they merged with other groups as the Bangologa. Expansion under Moleta also brought the Bangwaketse into conflict with their southern neighbours, the Barolong and Batlhaping, who competed for control of the Kgalagadi’s trade routes and tribute.
Hearing that the Batlhaping in alliance with other southerners (Barwa) intended to attack, Moleta moved his headquarters from Seoke to Pitsa Hill, also adjacent to Lobatse. From there he successfully ambushed and drove off the invaders at a gorge known ever since as Phata-ya-Barwa. The Bangwaketse next became embroiled in a conflict involving their eastern Bahurutshe neighbours, who were then ruled by a regent named Boikanyo. When Boikanyo refused to surrender the throne to his younger but more senior brother Tirwe, the latter turned to Moleta in support of his claims. Moleta’s forces then clashed with the followers of Boikanyo at Powe, near Dinokana in Lehurutshe, resulting in Boikanyo’s defeat and death.
Moleta thereafter moved his headquarters westward from Pitsa to Makolotwane, but subsequently withdrew from the area at the behest of Motswasele, who kept many of his cattle nearby at Gookodisa.
Moleta then resettled at a place known as Mhakane on the Molopo River from where he could challenge the northward movement of the Barolong. His son Makaba was further sent on an expedition against the Bangologa at Lehututu, whom he deprived of their cattle. The Bangologa subsequently turned for help to their traditional allies the Barolong, who were, however, expelled from the area, it is said with further help from the Bakwena. Moleta