Bobirwa bogosi crisis finally ends after 44 years

Kgosi Mokhutshwane Sekgoma and Ezekiel Joel
Kgosi Mokhutshwane Sekgoma and Ezekiel Joel

BOBONONG: The Bobirwa chieftainship feud that dates back to 1973, has finally come to an end with the appointment of Ezekiel Joel Masilo as the senior sub tribal authority on Tuesday.

Before a packed kgotla, Kgosi Mokhutshwane Sekgoma led a Bamangwato Tribal Authority delegation to present Masilo’s name together with that of Dimakatso Patane, who was promoted from a headman of record to sub-tribal authority. Onketetse Serumola was presented as a headman of record.

The three were presented with their appointment letters before morafe to confirm that they were duly appointed to assume their responsibilities, an announcement met with loud ululations from the kgotla.

The tribe’s chieftainship battle dates back to the 1973 death of Kgosi McKenzie Gopolang. Disputes over his successor led to the Bangwato Tribal Authority endorsing Mmirwa Malema who was appointed through election to hold the fort while the rightful heir was being sought. Malema retired last September and Kgosana Phineas Malema of Semolale was appointed in an acting capacity, serving only three months before names were submitted to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane for approval.

A few years ago, a task force was appointed to investigate the Bobirwa chieftainship and it was allegedly established that Malema was not the rightful heir. However, he was allowed to serve until his retirement. Malema, Serumola and Masilo’s late father claimed legitimacy to the Babirwa throne. However, it was finally resolved that Sekoba ward, where Masilo originates, is senior, hence Joel Masilo emerging the rightful heir.

On Tuesday, although many Babirwa expressed happiness that the bogosi conflict had finally been resolved, some were uneasy with Serumola’s appointment. Villagers opposed to his appointment a final meeting on the conflict held in August had only tasked the Bamangwato Tribal Authority with filling two vacant positions only and an agreement had been made that “proper consultations” would take place to identify a headman of record.

It is understood that Serumola has been appointed on a three-year contract.“My worry is that last time you were here agreed that the positions to be filled were that of the senior sub-tribal authority and sub-tribal authority,” said Lemphositse Sepelong, during discussions.

“Where did you get the authority to appoint the headman of record without consulting us? Now we want consultations for that position to commence.” Kgosi Mokhutshwane said while he concurred with morafe that the tribal authority initially discussed only two positions, Bangwato regent, Sediegeng Kgamane has powers within the law to appoint without necessarily consulting morafe.

“He is an appointing authority and consults the closest uncles within a ward,” he said.

Kgosi Mokhutshwane however pleaded with morafe to support the three, saying this would allow harmony and democracy to flourish.

“We are fully aware that not all of you are pleased with decision but it is finalised now. Support them to preserve your tribe,” he said.

Kgosi Mokhutshwane expressed concern over what he said was morafe’s tendency to appointing dikgosana then fail to bring them for formal recognition.

“In that scenario it becomes difficult for the tribal authority to intervene when differences arise,” he said.

“The feuds have officially and finally come to an end as the minister has approved and endorsed these three.

“These leaders now have powers within the law to service the community,” he said.

One of the villagers, Pinkie Serumola the conflict had caused serious divisions within the tribe as evidenced by the absence of several dikgosana who boycotted the unveiling of the three traditional leaders.

Gobojango headman, Keabetswe Mokgethi said the appointments meant service delivery would now be effected for villagers as it had been difficult to work without a senior sub-tribal authority in office. Babirwa strongly warned the three leaders against involving themselves in politics, saying they should strive to treat people equally and acquaint themselves with bogosi procedures. They were also informed that the tribal authority is ready to assist them whenever needed.

Accepting the position Masilo said he had grown up around the heated chieftainship dispute.

“We need to study our past to shape the future. However let us not allow the past to derail us. We saw, we learnt,” he said.

Editor's Comment
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