We last left off with the 6th of November 1895 meeting in which the British Secretary of State Joseph Chamberlain had dictated to the Dikgosi a settlement that would have surrendered much of Botswana to the political as well as economic control of Rhodes’ Chartered Company, while bringing the entire territory under the Hut tax.
In the end, the Dikgosi were left with no real choice but to accept Chamberlain’s terms, which they finally did in a joint letter on the 11th of November 1895.
In so doing the Dikgosi were reassured that having surrendered the “Tuli, Gaberones and Lobatsi blocks” to the British, the rest of their own territories would remain intact under Mmamosadinyana’s direct protection.
But, even this assumption was naive. Behind the scenes it was already being suggested that the Chartered Company would eventually get the rest of the Protectorate “when public feeling permit”.
In this respect the Company’s then ongoing occupation of Balete, Bakgatla and Barolong territories, along with the three blocks, was characterised as mere “instalments of a general settlement with the B.S.A. Company with regard to the Bechuanaland Protectorate.”
The above point was made directly to Rhodes, himself, following his initial outburst that: “It is humiliating to be utterly beaten by these niggers.”
Having been appointed to demarcate their boundaries, Colonel Hamilton Goold-Adams was already busy drafting plans for a radical reduction of both Bathoen and Sebele’s territories.
This was to be done by only allocating to their respective reserves those villages and masimo that were permanently occupied by “proper” Bangwaketse and Bakwena.
Much of Kweneng and Gangwaketse could thus be alienated for future Company use as Crownlands under the pretext of Colonial Office concern over “the lawfulness of the Bechuana tribes proper towards the Bakalahari.”
Nor were the Bangwato off the hook. Although Khama had been placated by the award of seemingly generous reserve boundaries, incorporating areas of Bukalanga and Bobirwa where his authority had been disputed, it was being quietly suggested that part of greater Gammangwato might still be surrendered to Rhodes on the pretext of accommodating the dissident Mphoeng-Raditladi faction.
Meanwhile, the Dikgosi were publicly informed on the 18th of November 1895 that before their departure from Britain they must agree to give Company troops the right of unrestricted transit through their territories.
In the aftermath of the settlement, Bathoen, Khama and Sebele’s were finally granted an audience with the then seventy-six year old Queen Victoria. The trio arrived at Windsor Castle on the afternoon of 20th of November 1895. After lunch with Chamberlain, they were ushered into a room to meet the “great white Queen”. It was a brief encounter. From her throne Victoria read:
“I am glad to see the chiefs, and to know they love my rule. I confirm the settlement of their case which my Minister has made. I approve of the provision excluding strong drink from their country. I feel strongly in this matter, and am glad to see that the chiefs have determined to keep so great a curse from their people.
“The chiefs must obey my Minister and my High Commissioner. I thank them for the presents which they have made me, and I wish for their prosperity and that of their people.”
After thanking Mmamosadinyana and her representatives “for a final settlement of the business that had brought them to this country”, each kgosi was given a Setswana copy of the New Testament, an autographed photo-portrait with accompanying magic lantern slide of the Queen, along with a shawl for their wives.
The above were common royal gifts, the shawls being part of an annual tribute from Afghanistan. Two decades earlier she had presented the Muslim ruler of Persia (Iran) with a Bible containing the words: “The secret of Britain’s greatness”. On the front piece of Khama’s gospels was inscribed: “The secret of Khama’s greatness.”
Afterwards Kgosi Sebele in particular was open to the press, giving a rather jocular account of the royal encounter to the London Times; which was subsequently republished in periodicals throughout the Empire (excerpt):
“Her Majesty is charming. She has a kind face and a sweet voice. But I had no idea that she was so short and stout. I have long desired to see the Chief of so many millions, as my father did before me, but I have seen her now, and shall go back home contented...
“The corridors of the magnificent palace where she lives are all lined with stalwart soldiers, as big as I am, in glittering uniforms. None ever moved. They all stood erect and motionless like the marble statues in the streets of London. While I passed through their line, I boldly tested one of these giants. I thrust my finger almost into his eye to make certain he was a living being, and not a statue placed to add grandeur to the palace. To my great surprise he never flinched, but merely rewarded me with a smile.
“When I was in one of Her Majesty’s splendid apartments, I as greatly astonished to see an ordinary, tiny house fly! It was a puzzle to me to know how it got there, for I could hardly believe that even Death could enter such a place...”