Mmegi Blogs :: The Fall Of Makaba
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Monday 20 August 2018, 14:43 pm.
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The Fall Of Makaba

Our previous instalment had speculated that, by the final months of 1824, Kgosi Makaba II’s infamous regional intelligence network must have brought him increasingly disturbing reports about the affairs of the Bakwena on his northern frontier.
By Jeff Ramsay Mon 11 Jun 2018, 14:04 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The Fall Of Makaba








In the aftermath of Kgosi Motswasele II’s execution on the outskirts of Shokwane, the once pre-eminent morafe had been weakened by division between the followers of Moruakgomo and those of Segokotlo, which was not resolved by the latter’s defeat in a battle at Masipiana. Segokotlo, along with his surviving followers including Motswasele’s underage heir Sechele, thereafter fled north to find refuge amongst Kgosi Kgari’s Bangwato.

Moruakgomo then settled at Borithe on the Ngotwane River, where he had little time to enjoy his victory. By 1824, the Mokwena usurper had relocated to Molepolole.

This followed the return of Bafokeng bagaPatsa Kgosi Sebetwane’s warrior horde into the region; who were then locally referred to as “Makgare” (subsequently becoming better known as “Makololo”).  Initially, Moruakgomo sought to buy peace with the intruders through offers of tribute.

Meanwhile, there were also signs of dissension amongst the Bangwaketse. A headman named Mogongwa had been punished after it was discovered that he had paid tribute to Makaba’s son Sebego, rather than to the Kgosi himself.

In the aftermath of his late heir, Tshosa and the still exiled son, Segotshane’s rebellion, the aging Makaba would undoubtedly have been sensitive to the ambitions of the charismatic Sebego, who was the senior son of his second house.

Sebego’s potential path to bogosi was then blocked by Tshosa’s underage heirs Gaseitsiwe and Ralekoko, as well as the still absent Segotshane.  But, only Makaba stood between him and the de facto power of regency. Following his punishment, Mogongwa is said to have removed to Molepolole, only to find the Bakwena living under the shadow of Sebetwane. By some accounts he then approached Sebetwane, suggesting out of spite that the elder Makaba was rich and vulnerable. 

What is more certain is that Moruakgomo’s emissaries approached Makaba suggesting that they combine their forces against Sebetwane. The Bangwaketse Kgosikgolo agreed, setting off with his mephato to rendezvous with the Bakwena against the advancing Bakololo at Losabanyana.

Leading Bangwaketse are said to have advised Makaba to remain behind at Kgwakgwe, arguing that he was too old for battle and also that Moruakgomo was not to be trusted. Their fears proved to be well founded.

The battle commenced with the Bangwaketse initially pushing the Makgare back, wounding Sebetwane in the process. But, the Bakwena remained aloof from the fighting allowing the battle to turn in the Makgare favour.

Less certain, but also alleged is that Sebego’s Malau regiment,

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along with the Maabakgomo of the absent Segotshane and what was left of the late Tshosa’s Matshelelaphala, failed to come to the aid of Makaba when his own Matshologawere were threatened by the Makgare counter attack.

In the end, the Bangwaketse are said to have suffered heavy losses, with Makaba controversially numbering amongst the slain. Whether the Kgosikgolo was killed by the enemy or, either by chance or design, trampled to death by his own troops remains a mystery. The great warrior king’s death gave rise to conspiracy theories in oral traditions of the Bangwaketse and their neighbours. Some of these accounts may have been fuelled by subsequent political conflicts, rather than actual events. For others, perhaps only an act of supreme betrayal could explain the downfall of the otherwise invincible son of Moleta.

Notwithstanding the death of the Kgosikgolo, the outcome of Losabanyana was not one sided. The engagement ended with both Sebego and the wounded Sebetwane breaking off the engagement in order to regroup there exhausted armies.

In the battle’s immediate aftermath, there was no opposition amongst the Bangwaketse as Sebego assumed the regency on behalf of his nephew Gaseitsiwe-a-Tshosa, in the context of the continued exile amongst the Barolong of the late Tshosa’s maternal brother, Segotshane. Embedded in this dynastic circumstance were the seeds of future controversy.

Sebego’s initial acts as Motshwareledi-Kgosi were, however, well accepted, indeed heroic. Having vowed to avenge the death of his father, in August 1826 he attacked Sebetwane’s Makgare at Dithubaruba, resulting in their permanent expulsion from southern Botswana. The son of Makaba would subsequently go on to annihilate Mzilikazi’s Amandebele at Dutlwe and push the “Matlamma”, (the Ovaherero), out of Ghanzi, while terrorising the Bakgalagari communities of south-western Botswana.

We close our series on Kgosi Makaba II with a praise poem as recorded by Kgosikobo Chelenyane at the Kanye main Kgotla in 1938 and subsequently published by Isaac Schapera:

Makaba o nakaladi ya Makapana; Nakaladi ya Moshana kgethisa. Ke palame Tlowe, ke bala metsana, Ka re seo se ga se metse, metsanyana, Motse go setse wag a Rramaomana a Mokube.

Kgomo di letse molapo tsa o shwetsa,Tsa ga Lotlhaka-lo-modumo; Ke jele le makaletse, Letshologa loo Kabangwe a Moleta; Sekalabata tsa mo sita dikgomo tsa ya Molemane, Tsa ba tsa mo leta, Letshologa loo Kabangwe a Moleta.

Lemang ka pele lo tloge lo tshabe, Letsema le mokuke wa ba atla.

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