SHOSHONG: Villagers here have vowed to take back what they say is their rightful claim to a chieftainship of their own, saying the Bangwato regent, Sediegeng Kgamane’s rule in the area has its days numbered.
Villagers have chosen a committee made up of Baphaleng and Bakaa, the village’s main ethnic groups, to represent them in the bogosi matter. The village has known no peace since Kgamane (Bangwato regent) brought the news in 2012 that he was their new chief, instead of the Baphaleng and Bakaa chiefs the villages had traditionally had.
The committee believes Kgamane is positioning himself for 2018 when President Ian Khama returns as paramount chief of Bangwato. The disgruntled villagers say they do not recognise Kgamane and believe government programmes are falling behind as a result of a disinterest in the village.
“They are only interested in earning a salary now that senior chiefs are being rewarded by the government,” said one committee member, Ethasetse Tlale.
“Shoshong tribes never approved to make him their chief. We have our own natural born chiefs who are being denied what is rightfully theirs.”
A visibly charged retired village head of arbitration, Kgosi Tlale of Phaleng ward told Mmegi the area had been “living under the Bangwano regime” noting that those in authority at present had no interest in driving the village development and cultural integrity.
According to Tlale, the Kgamanes arrived in Shoshong from Serowe in 1976 as they had misunderstandings with the ruling Khama family. He says Shoshong welcomed the Kgamanes with love and respect since “we recognised that they where from the paramount house of Bangwato”.
“But our love and hospitality cost us. Re ne ra itshega ka thipa mpeng re ba fa setilo mo kgoteng le tota e e ko godimo ka re lebile gore ke ba bogosi, ka nte ke jaaka re ipolaile,” he said.
Kgosi Tlale said whenever the late Bangwato chief, Kgosi Tshekedi Khama visited the village he would be hosted at the Kgamanes’ home and thus the place became a meeting point for villagers.
“It was never meant to be the main kgotla of the village because Baphaleng and Bakaa always had their main kgotla.
“This continued for a long time such that whenever Tshekedi held kgotla meetings, they would be held at the Kgamanes.
“Thereafter, when government decided to build the village a main kgotla, it was established there and called Shoshong Kgotla.
“However, it is not “kgotla yoo ra Kgamane” because the Kgamanes have not populated morafe in Shoshong. Only Baphaleng and Bakaa dikgosi have merafe to preside over.”
He added: “Shoshong kgotla was led by our chiefs from Baphaleng and Bakaa on a rotational bases as agreed between the two merafhe. Whenever one died, the other would take over and our village was very peaceful that way”.
Another committee member, Ontaetse Ramadi said the “peace” was enjoyed until 2011 when matters took “a nasty turn”.
“That is when Regent Sediegeng Kgamane manipulated his government position to demote Baphaleng and Bakaa Chiefs.
“In 2011 a delegation led by Kgosi Mokhutshwane Sekgoma from Serowe came to the village and told us Kgamane had sent them to tell Shoshong chiefs that Shoshong kgotla would now be led by its rightful owners being the Kgamane’s house.
“This then caused confusion among our chiefs as we knew that it was not right by law or any other
“However efforts to talk to Kgamane about the new development were futile as he insisted on the changes, although he was fully aware that he was not the rightful heir.”
Ramadi added: “While Shoshong chiefs were still awaiting Kgamane to come and address them other delegates from Serowe were sent by Kgosi Serogola Seretse in 2012 to come and alert Shoshong village that Kgosi Felix Kgamane, who is Kgamane’s nephew, would now be the new Shoshong chief.
“This happened so fast that by the time morafe realised what was going on, a lot of paperwork had already been manipulated to suit this wish by Sediegeng Kgamane”.
Ramadi said villagers had responded by boycotting the kgotla altogether, leading to the village becoming dysfunctional, even missing out on the BOT50 celebrations, despite its prominent status in the country’s history.
Another concerned committee member, Setimela Keratwang said the leadership in the village had previously written to the then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Peter Siele seeking government’s intervention.
“In 2014 Siele came and addressed us instead of enquiring from us and said it had been agreed with other dikgosi here that Shoshong Kgotla would now be under the Kgamane regency,” he said.
Keratwang said from that day onward, villagers had agreed that they will never use the Shoshong Kgotla and will not recognise Felix (Kgamane) as their chief.
“Nothing that takes place at the kgotla ever gets any significant attendance from Baphaleng and Bakaa people,” he said.
“The sad thing is that all communication on government programmes goes to Felix Kgamane and is never communicate to the villagers. In this state, the village is deteriorating and the youth are confused because they do not understand what is going on.” The visibly frustrated Keratwang described Shoshong as a lost village, saying even President Khama skipped it when he went about visiting the region.
“We are an abandoned village; even the President does not recognise us which is very sad because our future generation will never know their roots. They will never know why their village is desolate even though it carries the country’s heritage of pre-colonial and post-colonial times.
“There is no kgotla in Shoshong which is supposed to be the village‘s local government where development issues are discussed to develop the village,” he said.
For his part Bangwato Regent, Sediegeng Kgamane angrily dismissed the claims by Shoshong villagers, saying they appeared driven by people with a political agenda.
He said that ever since the village came into being it has always been under the Khamas and the Shoshong kgotla is kgotla yo rra Kgamane.
“The decision to give the Kgotla to the Kgamanes was long put to rest in 2014 by Minister Siele with the agreement of the villagers and dikgosi,” he told Mmegi.
“Therefore it shocks me if the same people who were present during the declaration such as Kgosi Tlale of Phaleng are the ones to utter such nonsense. They are politically driven and want to tarnish my name.”
Meanwhile, the concerned committee says it is awaiting a fresh appeal to the new Local Government minister Slumber Tsogwane, filed in December 2016.