The Orphan and the Ants Part 17 – Restoration

We left off with the Bangwato having paid ransom to the Makololo leader Sebetwane for the return of the Bakwena Prince Sechele. This followed Sebetwane’s attack on the Bakwena, that had resulted in the deaths of Moruakgomo and this father Tshosa.

In the aftermath of Makololo raid, it is said that those Bakwena who had not been captured or killed were now “scattered across the countryside like wild animals”. Most eventually regrouped into three factions. The BooRatshosa or “Bamakakana”, now under Bubi, who acted as regent for his nephew, Moruakgomo’s son Kgakge, eventually resettled at Dithejwane.

Another group under Kgame, a junior son of Legwale, moved east of the Madikwe River. Those still under Segokotlo returned to Lephephe, after skirmishing with the Bakaa. There Segokotlo was assassinated. His murderers, led by Ikafaleng Senese, took him to an ant bear hole where he was told that God (Modimo) was present. As he stuck his head into the hole to pray for locusts to feed his hungry people, an axe landed across his neck. The rest of his body was then pushed into the pit.

Thereafter those associated with Segokotlo’s death became known as the “BaMosima” or “those of the hole”. The slain leader’s successor, another of Legwale’s sons named Molese, was thus referred to “Kgosi ya Mosima”.

For his part the now maturing Sechele was becoming determined to reunite his father’s people. But his path to power proved t be far from smooth. Following the birth of his son Kgari, Sechele left his Bangwato guardians once more with the intention rejoin his own people.  But, he was initially chased away by both Molese and Kgame.

In later Sekwena accounts, it is said that during this period Sechele came to live “just like a Mokgalagadi”. Surviving as a hunter-gatherer, he wandered across the Thirstland with his mother Sejelo and two loyal servants, Mosimane Mothei and Dipelisa.

At one point, while among Kgosi Kontle II’s Bakgatla bagaMmanaana, the Bahurutshe Kgosi, Moilwa, proposed marriage to MmaSechele. But his subjects objected to their youthful leader’s infatuation, believing that the toughened widow might have been polluted by the manner of her first husband’s death. And so Sechele left the green hills of Lehurutshe to return to his precarious wanderings.

It was probably 1832 when Sechele’s band encountered a group of white hunter-traders led by the Scotsman David Hume, otherwise known as “Taute”, at a place called Moselebye. Hume hired Mosimane as a guide to take him to Gammangwato.

On the way back, his party came upon Molese’s Bakwena at Matsheng, near Lephephe. There Mosimane, while keeping to himself underneath one of Hume’s wagons, was recognised by a certain Mmupi (RaSeboni). That same evening he was secretly brought before Senese, another of Sechele’s uncles, who inquired as to his nephew’s whereabouts. Without informing Molese, Senese then dispatched two servants, Magogwe and Segakisa Rampena (RaMhiko), to seek Sechele.

The return of Mosimane, accompanied by Magogwe and Segakisa bearing news of Senese’s support, convinced Sechele that the time had finally come to take his throne. MmaSechele still feared “the Bakwena who can kill their king”, but, her only son was determined if necessary to risk all to have the leopard skin finally placed upon his shoulders.

Before leaving for Matsheng, he was given some cattle by the Bangwaketse leader Sebego, which were placed in the care of Segakisa. Later, Segakisa became Sechele’s “mogotsa-molelo” or “keeper of the royal fire”, while the herd, itself, was called “Difetlhamolelo” or “lighters of the fire”. The manner of the Difetlhamolelo’s dispensation marks the beginning of Sechele’s long term policy of building up his personal following by linking loyal commoners to himself through loan cattle or mafisa.

Sechele arrived at Matsheng in the evening, but waited till dawn before entering the town with Senese at his side. His arrival coincided with a great communal dance, which quickly broke up. Seeing his erstwhile subjects gathering around the martyred “Modimowagae’s” long lost heir, Molese retreated into his household (lolwapa).

Among the first to greet Sechele was Kgosidintsi, who offered a goat and a tortoise shell full of milk, saying: “Drink my elder brother (“Nkgone”) and I will drink after you”. Sechele subsequently recognised the older Kgosidintsi’s special status by allowing him to form his own ward, Mokgalo, which survives as one of Molepolole’s five main sections. Molese remained cloistered in his house for three days. On the evening of the third day Sechele ordered Rakobo, one of Kgosidintsi’s maternal cousins, to climb a tree and call out challenges to Molese, while taunting “the wild dogs” of his regiment, the Mateane.

The next morning Mateane responded by mobilising in an attempt to retake Kgosing (literally “place of the Kgosi”). But, despite much pushing and shoving, which resulted in no more than a broken jaw, they found no room for themselves around the royal Kgotla fire. Molese, with a handful of staunchest followers, then fled in such haste that he left his wife behind.

Thus Sechele, now in his early twenties, took the first step towards restoring his father’s morafe. In his journey, more severe challenges would follow.

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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