Mmegi Blogs :: Old Palapye – When ‘Facts’ Wobble
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Friday 13 July 2018, 06:00 am.
Old Palapye – When ‘Facts’ Wobble

There were at least two newspaper reports about the visit to Old Palapye by a walking group. These mentioned that they were shown, amongst other places. the prison and the market place.
By Sandy Grant Wed 21 Jun 2017, 17:45 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Old Palapye – When ‘Facts’ Wobble

Unfortunately neither report indicated from where this information was derived.

We have been told about the remains of the prison for so long now that it will now be as ingrained a ‘fact’ as the three Dikgosi going to the UK to seek Queen Vic’s protection from the Boers.

In reality the supposed prison is, very obviously, the remains of the prestige, stone built Bechuanaland Trading Association store.

Presumably it was impossible for those conveying this information to grasp that the remains of this kind of stone walled structure could have been anything other than a prison.

What ever it was must have been costly to build and the idea that anybody would spend quite so much building a prison is patently ridiculous.

 And then who would have had sufficient cash to waste on a supposed need of this kind. Unfortunately incorrect information can be seriously damaging.

If the stone walled structure, complete with massive lintel, was a prison, where can the remains of the old BTA store be found? If they are yet to be identified, the implication would be that the BTA was never based there and an important chunk of the history of Old Palapye is at once lost.

That said, Willoughby, from memory, does mention the existence of a very modest facility but its hardly likely that this could have been anything very different from the Village prison in Gaborone which, around the same time, let the few prisoners out each


day but asked them to come back in the evening.

It follows that if there had been a prison in Old Palapye it would have been a European traders ‘facility’. And that in turn would have meant that Khama had ceded the right, in his own capital, to foreigners to try and sentence. This idea is wildly speculative.

But now let’s think about the supposed market place. 

If claims about it are correct the implication would be that Old Palapye today boasts the one and only remains of a market place in the entire country.

But how credible can this claim be? As far as I am aware there is nothing to indicate either archaeologically or historically that Batswana ever had market places. 

So how could one have existed in Old Palapye? Is it likely? Who would have been buying and who selling?  Were the Bangwato selling to other Bangwato? Or were Bangwato selling to the European traders? In which case, what would they have been selling? Or perhaps it is contended that the European traders needed a market place so that they could sell to the Bangwato.

But why would they have needed anything of the kind when they all had their own established stores? Somebody has got this all-wrong.

If it was a passing expert, it doesn’t much matter because mistakes of this kind are made all the time. But if it was the National Museum, we are again in trouble!

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