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The Troika

JEFF RAMSAY
Previously, we noted that in the face of the continued strong support by the majority of Bakwena for Sebele II, Molepolole’s Resident Magistrate, A.C. Stigand, became obsessed with the notion that colonial authority in Kweneng was being challenged by “an alternative government” under the influence of a “Hidden Hand”, which was his own term for an alleged cabal of Jewish businessmen whom he further described as a “dangerous power that is controlling the Chief and a good proportion of the tribe”.

A further example from Stigand’s prolific pen:

“Sebele and his stage manager, Mochumi [i.e. Motsumi, his tribal secretary ] cum M.L. Hirschfeldt and Zakar, when asking for this meeting of the tribe before Col. Daniel hope to bluff him by engineering a meeting at which the ‘claque’ of riff raff, intimidated and bribed by Zakar’s money (to be paid by results) to simulate agreement with Chief Sebele’s utterances.

Their only hope – this being they think their only chance now that the much dreaded [Resident Commissioner] Ellenberger is away – is to try to get him to make a decision by counting heads at such a meeting, that is by quantity instead of quality, and render an opinion of all trustworthy and reasonable headman null and void.”

Throughout 1927, Sebele and Stigand continued to engage in a tug-of-war. At one point Stigand tried to revive the Tribal Council under Sebele’s uncle Kebohula.

The Bakwena kgotla, however, instead convicted Kebohula of using boloi against Sebele and sentenced him to exile. The colonial government of the day then stepped in to rescue Kebohula by proclaiming the Witchcraft Act [still on the books] in order to cancel the judgement. Thereafter, when Stigand accidentally shot a local lunatic, Sebele demanded that Ellenberger remove him. The Kgosi also complained about Stigand’s harassing villagers and continued plotting with his uncles.

During his earlier postings in Maun, as well as Molepolole, Stigand had in fact demonstrated erratic and questionable behaviour. He had a disturbing penchant for shooting istanbul escort things in the night that disturbed his sleep, from bullfrogs to cattle to the unfortunate lunatic.

Although aware of Stigand’s idiosyncrasies, Ellenberger nonetheless kept him in Molepolole.

Sebele’s relations with Mahikeng were further strained he joined forces with Kgosi Tshekedi Khama of the Bangwato and Mohumagadi Ntebogang, the Bangwaketse regent. The three drew up a list of grievances and sent them direct to the High Commissioner over Ellenberger’s head.

While the British summarily rejected the troika’s complaints, they were nonetheless deeply worried about the renewed political unity between the three merafe. 

A direct result of their concern was their decision to pressure Ntebogang to step down in Kanye in favour of the early installation of her nephew as Kgosi Bathoen II. But, to escort istanbul Mahikeng’s deep disappointment Bathoen quickly revealed himself to be a

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staunch ally of both Tshekedi and Sebele.

In 1928 Ellenberger’s successor, Rowland Daniel, tried on two occasions to impose another Tribal Council on the Bakwena with the support of members of the Borakalalo faction

On May 8, 1928 a small group of proclaimed headmen filed a petition against Sebele. They called for the creation of a Tribal Council of four members (appointed by themselves), who would take over Sebele’s political and financial powers. In order to act on this petition, Daniel held an inquiry six weeks later in Molepolole. Daniel summed up the results.

“During the course of the meeting it became evident that the petitioners were in the minority. They consisted of the Headmen related to the Chief’s family, but they were only supported by a handful of the common men of the tribe… whereas the opponents to the petition were represented by the Chief, few headmen and about three-quarter of the common people.”

In spite of widespread opposition voiced in the meeting istanbul bayan escort to the revival of the Bakwena Tribal Council, Daniel insisted that a new Council be formed, hoping that it would gain authority once convened.

But, the 3rd Bakwena Tribal Council pleased no one. Even the British admitted it was a failure. The first and only real initiative taken by the four-man Council with the support of the British was assuming control over all “tribal monies”, which consisted of rents and fees collected by the morafe. Previously this income had been largely reserved for the Kgosi.

The largest of the funds was an annual sum of 405 pounds paid by the British South Africa Company (BSACo) for used prospecting rights. (before the Council assumed control, Sebele had already pocketed the BSACo cheque for 1928).

The other fees and rents consisted of annual collections istanbul escort bayan from local traders and blacksmiths. The councillors planned to use these fees to pay their own salaries. They discovered, however, that most of this “stand rent” money had been borrowed against.

Soon the councillors were begging money from both the British and the Bakwena. Within weeks, Stigand described the new Council as being like the old ones, “a broken reed”.

Notwithstanding this judgement, Daniel, remained determined in his desire to curtail Kgosi Sebele II’s power by reviving it.

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