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The orphan and the ants part 12- The house divided

JEFF RAMSAY
We last left off with a disastrous raid by a large party of Bakwena on the Bangwaketse cattle posts at Gapeana, near modern Lobatse. In the aftermath of the debacle Tshosa’s son Moruakgomo led the survivors back to the principle Bakwena settlement at Mokgweng, south west of Molepolole

The elderly Bakwena kgosi Seitlhamo had not personally participated in the raid, while the role, if any, of his designated heir Legwale is unclear. What does emerge from the Sekwena accounts is that in the aftermath of the tragedy the conflict between Legwale and Tshosa intensified, with arguments over the allocation of cattle and other royal property.

Apparently over-eager to assert his own martial prowess and the fortunes of his morafe, Legwale then decided to undertake another cattle raiding expedition. According to Tebele he set out for the Banyayi-dominated lands to his north. But the raid ended in another tragedy with Legwale being killed in an apparent ambush in the vicinity of the Shoshong Hills.

While the identity of Legwale’s killers is a matter of dispute a number of sources point to his slayers as having been Babirwa rather than Banyayi. In this context it is also commonly alleged that Tshosa, who had publicly opposed the raid, secretly alerted the Babirwa of Legwale’s coming resulting in his death. As further evidence of  treachery it is claimed that Legwale was the only fatality suffered during the expedition.    

Legwale’s death, was followed by that of Seitlhamo who was also killed.  While there are contradictory accounts of chronology of Seitlhamo’s death, there is clear consensus that he met his fate in the hands of the Bangwaketse, who were by then led by Kgosi Makaba II. This is said to have occurred when most of the Bakwena cattle were being herded by regiments at Letlhakeng for their safety due to continued Bangwaketse attacks in the aftermath of their victory at Gapeana.

The elder Seitlhamo was then staying with four of his children; one of was a son named Mooketsi. For some reason Mooketsi is said to have developed a hatred towards his father, which resulted in his informing Makaba that Seitlhamo was vulnerable, being almost alone at the village as the regiments were then away herding and protecting the cattle.

Makaba’s army then left, with Mooketsi accompanying them. The Bangwaketse thus found Seitlhamo at Mokweng virtually unguarded and killed him in the early hours of the morning.

After this incident, Mooketsi went with the Bangwaketse back to Kanye, among whom he now intended to stay. But, soon after their arrival, Makaba had Mooketsi executed, saying that since he had killed his own father

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he could easily kill him as well. Following Seitlhamo’s death Legwale’s younger brother Maleke became regent. But, he too died shortly thereafter after being bitten in the leg by a rabid dog. By then the Bakwena had moved from Mokgweng to Dithubaruba, where Maleke died.

Thus it was that, as a result of a combination of jealousy, murder and tragic circumstance, Kgosi Seitlhamo and the sons of his first house had all perished one after another leaving only children of Legwale to perpetuate his line. In this respect Legwale is known to have had three sons – Motswasele II, Segokotlo and Seipone- from his senior house, as well as three daughters – Mpilo, Mpelonyane and Mmakgama.

As the eldest Seitlhamo’s grandson Motswasele II was proclaimed as his heir, with his uncle Tshosa, who as we have seen had coveted the throne for himself, initially serving as his guardian and regent. After he had initiated Motswasele II alongside his son Moruakgomo, Tshosa had the Bakwena move from Dithubaruba to build at Shokwane. There Motswasele was given the throne and began to rule. Motswasele in turn made Tshosa a sub-chief.

By all accounts, Moruakgomo was bitter that his father had handed over power to his cousin, believing that he had been thus denied the chance to rule in his own right. Overtime this desire was kept alive by Motswasele II’s own transgressions, which are alleged to have included the arbitrary taking of his subjects milk sacks, meat, fields and, worst of all, wives.

With time Moruakgomo was thus able to gather around him others who resented Motswasele’s rule.  But, before they dared rise up against their kgosi, they knew they had to win over the support of Sejo Monametse, the still loyal headman of the Maunatlala ward. Moruakgomo therefore began to spread the rumour that Motswasele intended to kill Sejo.

In his plots Moruakgomo further attracted the support of Motswasele’s brother Segokotlo.

Before his death, Motswasele was warned of the growing conspiracy against him by a certain Mojela. The Kgosi replied: “if they kill me they will not live together afterwards, but will fight among themselves”. And so it was the Kgosi, himself, summoned his last letsholo (great meeting attached to a hunt) to directly confront the conspirators, telling Mojela that if necessary he was prepared to die.



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