The orphan and the ants part 16 – Capture

In the aftermath of the Battle of the Matopos, the Bangwato and their surviving allies, including the Bakwena of Segokotlo, retreated south to the Khutse hills.

There Sechele and his Bakwena age mates were initiated as part of the Malomakgomo regiment of the Bangwato heir Khama II.

Further to the south, the lands of the Bakwena and Bangwaketse had by then been invaded by Sebetwane’s Makololo, resulting in Moruakgomo’s BooRatshosa or “Bamakakana” faction retreating into the Kgalagadi as far as Ghanzi, before briefly linking up with the Batawana in Ngamiland.

Events took another dramatic turn in August 1826, when the Makololo were driven out of southern Botswana by the Bangwaketse and allied Bakgatla bagaMmanaana under Kgosi Sebego. After a winter of recuperation at Mochudi Sebetwane moved his people northwards into the Boteti region.

Meanwhile, shortly after the formation of the Malomakgoma, Segokotlo’s followers broke away from the Bangwato. They initially settled among the Bakaa in the Shoshong hills. But, after being raided by the Makololo, they resettled at Lephephe. There, finding “only a large reed vley with holes that had been made by wild animals,” they began to sink wells to water their “large lot of cattle”.While at Lephephe Segokotlo’s followers were briefly reunited with those of Moruakgomo who established themselves nearby at Macheng.

Moruakgomo is then said to have triggered his own downfall by raiding Bangwato cattle in the Boteti region, some of which were claimed by the Makololo. By one account the Bangwato, by now probably already under the authority of Kgosi Kgama II, then sent two people identified as Keaya and Mosadi to the Makololo Kgosi Sebetwane with the message:

“I have called you to punish the Bakwena who have killed Bangwato. There living among them is Motswasele’s orphan. When you invade Kweneng bring him to me.”Whether or not so encouraged, Sebetwane c. 1828 led his army against the Bakwena, surrounding Moruakgomo’s followers at Macheng. He then sent word to the Mokwena to prepare for battle the next day.

In the ensuing fight the Makololo triumphed, scattering the Bakwena while taking Moruakgomo among others captive.

According to Kabo Tebele, in the aftermath of the clash, Sebetwane enquired about the whereabouts of  Sechele. One warrior stood up and volunteered that he had seen one with royal blood. – “I hit him with by club, and was about to slay him when I saw he resembled the Kgosi’s son, and so I spared him.”

Kgosi Sebetwane then released Bakwena captives to go and identify if the person was indeed the missing prince. They soon confirmed that he was, indeed, the right person.

They then took Sechele, while he was still bleeding from the nose and brought him before Sebetwane. Upon seeing Sechele, Sebetwane is said to have taken water and washed the young prince’s wounds.

Kgosi Sebetwane then hit Moruakgomo with a stick, saying: “is it your son? How come you have killed his father?”

At this point while Moruakgomo had been captured, his father Tshosa had escaped, it being rumoured that he was re-gathering the Bakwena. Sebetwane then ordered Moruakgomo to go and call his father. Moruakgomo left returning on the third day with his father.

The captured Bakwena along with the Makololo then embarked on a march. Moruakgomo marched alongside his captor Sebetwane. After he could not keep up Sebetwane’s people in the rear killed the elderly Tshosa.

Moruakgomo realised that his father must have been killed when Sebetwane’s men who had been with his father appeared without him. Moruakgomo then sat down and refused to walk. Sebetwane pointed to Sechele, and asked Moruakgomo: “Where is this young man’s father?” Moruakgomo answered: “I killed him.”

Sebetwane then said: “Why did you kill him?” Moruakgomo replied: “We were fighting for the mother’s breast.”

Sebetwane: “I will also fight for the breast.” At which point he killed Moruakgomo.

Thereafter Kgosi Khama II renewed his request that Sechele be permitted to stay with him, ultimately paying the Makololo a ransom  consisting of “all kinds of colourful animal skins; the karosses of leopards, wildcats, feathers of the lightening bird, beads and other things in order to secure the release of Sechele.”

In some Chikukane accounts, the Vekuhane (Basubiya) ruler Liswani acted as an intermediary between the Makololo and Bangwato in the negotiations for Sechele’s return

What remains certain is that, in the aftermath of his victory, Sebetwane had executed Moruakgomo and Tshosa, thus further advancing the infamous prophecy that had been made by Sechele’s father, Kgosi Motswasele II, prior to his public murder:

“If they kill me they will not live together afterwards, but will fight among themselves. Then my father’s ants will come to avenge me; first will come the black ants, followed by the white ants. The cause of the orphan is contested by the ants!”

After his return to the Bangwato, Sechele was married to Mokgokong, the daughter of Kgari and the sister of Khama II. Mokgokong then gave birth to his first son Kgari-a-Sechele.

Editor's Comment
Let's Enjoy Responsibly

The rate of infection and the death toll might have gone down, but the threat is still there. According to statistics released on September 20, 2021, a total of 229,563 people have been fully vaccinated. While there is some progress, we still have a long way to go.As nightclubs and other entertainment areas open up in October, let’s ensure that we make our safety a priority. It is common knowledge that consumption of alcoholic beverages can...

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