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The Orphan And The Ants Part 15 – The Howling Wind Of Tshosa

JEFF RAMSAY
We last left the Bakwena, c. 1821-22, at a Letsholo or communal hunt outside Shokwane, where having already been warned by the head of the Maunatlala ward, Sejo Monametse, of a conspiracy to assassinate him, Kgosi Motswasele II had warned that if he was killed “my father’s ants will avenge me”.

On the fateful day, the Mokwena is said to have asked a supporter named Modisa to speak. But the latter was immediately silenced by Moruakgomo Tshosa. In the commotion Motswasele rose to leave the meeting but was followed.

Turning to see who was behind him, his neck was fatally slashed by the battle axe of Kalayamore. Much like the Roman senators who had killed Julius Caesar, Moruakgomo, and the other leading conspirators, including the Kgosi’s brother Segokotlo, then dipped their spears in the blood of the dying Motswasele to affirm their collective responsibility for the regicide. It is believed that each of these executioners were ultimately “eaten” by the prophesied ants. Motswasele’s corpse was buried where he fell. Thereafter his grave was marked by generations of passersby, who heaped rocks and branches on the site out of either fear and/or respect. In the aftermath of the event, the Bakwena were violently divided by the ambitions Moruakgomo and Segokotlo.

The latter had expected that the throne would be given to him for his part in his brother’s downfall. But if he assumed he had Moruakgomo’s support for his claim, he was immediately disappointed. Moruakgomo bluntly told Segokotlo: “You told me to kill your brother, and now I am going to rule.”  

Apparently, sensing that his Malalamitlwa regiment was at a disadvantage in the face of those aligned with Moruakgomo’s Magwa, Segokotlo abandoned the field. With Moruakgomo’s holding Shokwane, Segokotlo initially led his adherents of Masipiana.  

Determined to consolidate his position, Moruakgomo wasted little time in attacking the new settlement, in the process scattering its inhabitants. Thereafter, most of those who had backed Segokotlo defected to Moruakgomo. With the few followers he has left Segokotlo fled northward to the Bangwato of Kgosi Kgari, accompanied by his younger brother Molese as well as a number of other royal headmen, notably including Moruakgomo’s uncle Senese Seitlhamo. Segokotlo was also accompanied by Motswasele’s surviving sons.

The slain kgosi had left in his wake at least six sons born of six wives.  His senior son, Sechele, then a boy of about 10 was from the womb of Sejelo, daughter of Ramodisa, who was himself a junior son of Motswasele I and thus an uncle to his son-in-law.

The wedlock of Sechele’s parents thus conformed to the Setswana ideal of cross cousin

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marriage- “Ntsala wa motho ke mogatse: ngwana wa rrangwana nnyale, kgomo di boele sakeng” (“A man’s cousin is his wife: child of my paternal uncle marry me so that the cattle may return to the kraal”). Sechele’s known brothers, in accordance with their established ranking, were: Kgosidintsi, Basiamang, Tebele, Kekgethile, Sekwene, and Kgafela. Of these the most prominent was Kgosidintsi, also known as Raditsebe.

He was of the womb of Mabyeng, whose father, Kgosana Ngowana Rammakala of the Barokologadi booSeletlo, had earlier joined Motswasele II in attacking the Babirwa.  Although Kgosidintsi was born before Sechele, he never disputed his junior status. In his manuscript Kgabo Tebele further notes: “Following the killing of his father when he was still young, Sechele began a life of exile throughout the world.

He was still an innocent child when he went to Gammangwato during the time of Kgosi Kgari. It was there that he was circumcised by Kgari. Sechele then lived with his mother Seyelo, his younger brother Ramodisa and his sister, Pebana’s wife. His brothers Kgosidintsi and Tebele were also living with him.” Those who remained behind with Moruakgomo’s were known as the “BooRatshosa” with reference to his aging but still alive father.

They also came to be known as the “Bamakakana” (“those of the little white ants/termites”). Initially, the Bamakakana migrated from Shokwane to Botithe on the Notwane River. But they did not remain there for long.

Sensing insecurity Moruakgomo next settled atop Molepolole hill, where he repulsed a party of Bangwaketse, sent out to avenge previous losses by Kgosi Makaba II. Notwithstanding his victory, Moruakgomo relocated once more, this time to Dithubaruba, which existed as a natural fortress.

The BaMakakana were still at Dithubaruba when the first of Motswasele’s ants appeared in Kweneng, the followers of Sebetwane who were then alternatively referred to by the Bakwena and their Setswana neighbours as the Maphathana or Makgare, but who were subsequently and to this day remembered as the Makololo.

Despite being characterised in Sekwena traditions as a divisive and ultimately failed usurper Moruakgomo, is praised for his strength and ferocity during the difficult times.

He was thus called howling wind of Tshosa (Phokfotlaaka aTshosa) whose unyielding character can be compare to the hard wood of the morukuru (sandalwood/Spirostacys Africana) and mokoba (knob-thorn/Acacia burkie) trees:“Batho lokile Lwasenya morukuru, lokile lwasenyetsa



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