Mmegi Blogs :: MAKABA II & MOFFAT
Last Updated
Thursday 16 August 2018, 17:52 pm.

Our last episode concluded with the Rev. Robert Moffat having resolved take up Makaba II’s invitation that he visit Kanye. At the time the missionary was convinced that the powerful Bangwaketse Kgosi's goodwill was the key to bringing peace and the blessings of gospel to the region.
By Jeff Ramsay Mon 30 Apr 2018, 13:46 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: MAKABA II & MOFFAT

Moffat was turned back from an initial attempt to reach Gangwaketse in May 1823, when Dithakong was threatened by invading Baphuting and Bahlakwana, who were defeated by the Batlhaping with Griqua assistance.

The following year, he set off once more. Upon crossing the Molopo in August 1824, the missionary was greeted and escorted by another Makaba’s sons, Moroka, underscoring the value that was placed on his arrival.

As they approached Makaba’s settlement, now at Kgwakgwe hill, Moffat’s party were met by the royal messenger who assured them that the Kgosikgolo had not slept due to his joy upon hearing of their approach. Arriving at midday, Moffat further describes the scene:

“We passed many women, who were employed in their gardens, who, on seeing us, threw down their picks, and running to the wagons, lifted up their hands, exclaiming “Dumela,” which was followed by shrill cries sufficient to affright the very oxen.

As the wagons were obliged to take a circuitous road over the hill to the town; we saddled our horses to cross by the nearest way; on reaching the summit of the hill, at the foot of which lay the metropolis of the Bangwaketse, turning our eyes northward, we were greatly surprised on beholding the number of towns which lay scattered in the valleys.

Our guide conducted us through a winding street to the habitation of Makaba, who stood at the door of one of his houses, and welcomed us to the town in the usual way.

“He seemed astonished and pleased to see us all without arms, remarking, with a hearty laugh, that he wondered we should trust ourselves, unarmed, in the town of such a ‘villain’ as he was reported to be. In a few minutes a multitude gathered, who actually trode on each other in their eagerness to see the strangers and their horses.

Meanwhile, Makaba walked into a house, and sent us out a large jar, or pot of beer, with calabashes, in the form of a ladle. Being thirsty, we partook very heartily of the beer, which possessed but little of an intoxicating quality.”

Clearly revelling in the moment, Makaba insisted that visitors parade their ox wagons through the town, to a spot where they could camp for the night. This they did to the reported excitement of the inhabitants, despite some damage to lolwapa walls along the route.

As the oxen were finally unyoked Moffat’s


party “were instantly surrounded by several thousands of people, all making their remarks on the novel scene, which produced a noise almost deafening; nor did they retire till night came on.”

The Kgosi-kgolo continued to shower his guest with regal protocol, first sending Moroka with three senior men to guard and wait on the missionary, a gesture which was followed at “about sunset” with the arrival of one of Makaba’s wives with his message that:

“The only mark of respect which he could at present show was to send his most beloved wife, who would deliver to us a sack full of thick milk, and that tomorrow he would provide us with slaughter oxen. The sack was so large that it was borne by two men to the wagons.”

Early the next morning, Moffat’s party woke to find themselves once more surrounded by a large crowd. Moffat further records:

“At about 10 o’clock A. M., Makaba made his appearance, with his retinue, and sat down opposite to my wagon. The bustling crowd retired to a distance, and a dead silence ensued. He addressed us nearly as follows: -

“My friends, I am perfectly happy; my heart is whiter than milk, because you have visited me.  Today I am a great man. Men will now say, ‘Makaba is in league with white people.’ I know that all men speak evil of me. They seek my hurt. It is because they cannot conquer me that I am hated. If they do me evil, I can reward them twofold. They are like children that quarrel; what the weaker cannot do by strength, he supplies with evil names.

You have come to see the villain Makaba; you have come, as the Batlhaping say, ‘to die by my hands.’ You are wise and bold to come and see with your eyes, and laugh at the testimony of my enemies.”

While the missionary’s detailed recollections, based on a diary, should be understood as reflecting his own perceptions and bias, they, nonetheless, provide us with a plausible and uniquely insightful narrative of a week in the life of Kgosi Makaba II and his community. 

The regal welcome received by Moffat’s party was in keeping with the Kgosikgolo’s candid desire that the visit should open the door to others who had previously avoided his country, based on the disinformation of hostile neighbours and exiled internal opponents. 

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