The history and role of Bogosi in our society is well known and documented. The institution of Bogosi is arguably one of the oldest regimes in the entire globe.
Back then, Dikgosi discharged executive functions akin to that of a State president or a judge. Traditional chiefs take care of their communities, promote their people’s welfare, and encourage community self-reliance. They also preside over cases in the kgotla and bring about justice and reconcile disputes.
Early on during colonialism, government took quite a lot of power from Dikgosi, as well as their responsibilities. But this did not mean the role of Dikgosi was diminished. The institution of Bogosi is still relevant and plays an important role in presiding over cases and reconciliation.
However, there have been signs of friction between the common law and the customary law.
This week we learnt of reports that Dikgosi have raised cause for concern that they are being trampled upon and considered inferior.
They cry that lawyers question their status in disposing of cases because many of them have not studied law. They complain that the customary law is playing second fiddle to the borrowed law and that lawyers trample upon their status. This is despite the important role they have played in the development of the country.
If what Dikgosi are complaining about is true, then we are headed in the wrong direction. The two institutions must work together and complement each other. They are two organs whose importance in modern society cannot be ignored.
Lawyers should note that Dikgosi still have a role to play in modern day
They are considered a link between the people and the government. When Botswana gained independence, it preserved its traditions. It retained the traditional system of governance, which has now been infused within modern governance through the establishment of Ntlo ya Dikgosi Chamber; as such it works hand-in-hand with the government so that it could not only run parallel, but also move forward.
It works together to develop the country, playing purely an advisory role to Government. Lawmakers approach it for advice. We can safely say that they are the voice of the people.
Just like Dikgosi, one should mention the vital role that lawyers often play in preserving, promoting and protecting the rule of law in society. Their role is basically to help an individual find the best way to resolve a dispute or prevent an unwanted outcome from occurring. They are in place to protect people in general. The two serve similar purpose, which is to serve the people resolve and avoid disputes, as such they should respect each other and avoid frictions.
“We live in a global village. We have to come up with ways which will make us more relevant today. I always tell those who believe dikgosi have no powers that all is not lost, there are things which we can do to get involved.’
- Balete Kgosikgolo, Kgosi Mosadi Seboko