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Game Of Thrones (8) – Sekgoma Flees

We left off at the Shoshong Kgotla in early June of 1866 with Matsheng once more accepted as the Bangwato Kgosi. Khama was reportedly the only one to openly speak against the development, telling Matsheng: “If I thought there would be peace in the town, I would say I was glad to see you; I say I am sorry you have come, because I know that only disorder and death can take place when two chiefs sit in one Kgotla.”

Khama continued: “I wish all the Bangwato to know that I renounce all pretensions to the chieftainship of the Bangwato. Here are two chiefs already; I refuse to be called the third, as some of you have mockingly styled me. My kingdom consists in my gun, my horse and my wagon. If you will give me liberty to possess these as a private person, I will renounce all concern in the politics of this town.

“Especially do I refuse to attend night meetings. When men sit together in the dark, and are afraid to hold their meeting in the daylight, they themselves confess that their deeds are evil. If you wish me to attend meetings, they must be held in daylight. I am sorry Matsheng that I cannot give you a better welcome to the Bangwato.”

According to the missionary Mackenzie, many of the leading headmen were discomforted by Khama’s words, while the commoners secretly applauded. 

For his part the now older, wiser Matsheng concluded the meeting with the observation that: “Many speeches have been made today, many words of welcome have been addressed to me. All these I have heard with one ear; one speech and one only has reached my heart and that is the speech of Khama.” 

Matsheng subsequently met Khama in private where he reportedly confided that Sekgoma had attempted to turn him and the other Dikgosi of the region against his sons, putting their very lives in danger, but now he could see that it was Khama’s followers who could be trusted.

At the Kgotla, Matsheng later publicly accused Sekgoma of treachery stating: “You called me from Bakwena to kill your rebellious sons. My heart refuses to do this. They are your sons not mine; if you wish them killed, kill them yourself.”

In the months that followed, Matsheng consolidated his authority by establishing his own Kgosing, separate from Sekgoma’s courtyard which was thus marginalised.

Matsheng’s trust in Khama was increased when the latter warned the Kgosi that Sekgoma was planning to overthrow him during a Pitso. When the assembly gathered, Sekgoma struck one of Matsheng’s supporters as a signal for the coup to begin.

But seeing that Matsheng’s men were prepared for the confrontation, Sekgoma’s followers instead surrounded their leader, allowing him to flee without further bloodshed.

Humiliated, Sekgoma once more

found refuge in Kweneng. Fearing the disruptive powers of his baloi, Sechele however insisted that the Phuti stay at Mmakgodi, which was then occupied by the Balete as well as the Bahurutse booMokhibidu, rather than Molepolole.

As readers may recall, having been trained as a youth alongside Sekgoma medicine, magic and indigenous cosmology by the royal tutor RraLekalake (Moitsheki aMosemme aMayadibodu aTshimole) Sechele maintained a lifelong respect for the Phuti’s powers of sorcery.

At least one incident occurred when a party of dingaka was sent by Sekgoma with charms to bewitch Sechele’s masimo. Caught in the act, the culprits were brought before the Mokwena, who resisted calls for their executon. Instead he had the dingaka taken to the Gammangwato border, where they were stripped and doctored with their own medicine before being abandoned.

Some time later, when the missionary Rodger Price asked Sechele if as literate Christian he had really believed that Sekgoma’s charms could have harmed him he replied in the affirmative.

Back in Shoshong, Matsheng faced a new challenge in 1867 with reports that gold had been found in the Tati region, which then existed a disputed buffer zone lying between his kingdom and that of Mzilikazi’s Amandebele.

As adventurers of various sorts appeared in the territory, with newspapers reporting many more on the way, there was a sense of unease.

The situation was not calmed when the South African Republic (Transvaal) Boers sent an emissary to both Matsheng and Mzilikazi to try convince them that the white prospectors be subject to Pretoria’s jurisdiction.

The Boer offer was rejected, with Mzilikazi further affirming his opposition to any mining activity in his territory.

For his part Matsheng, after consulting with his Kgotla wrote to the British Governor of the Cape Colony seeking to know his Government’s attitude towards the influx. His cautious approach, which was at least partially influenced by the resident British traders and missionary, was not universally endorsed. One elder Mongwato rhetorically asked:

“Bangwato have you thrown away your spears before the enemy approaches? You who now have guns and dress like white men, will you not fire one shot for your country? This is surely wonderful! In olden times we fled or fought, but today we are asked to open arms to the enemy. Bangwato I say let us fight.”

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