Remembering Kemmonye Molly Mobita

Hundreds of mourners bid farewell to Mobita last Saturday in Kumakwane. She was 102 years old
Hundreds of mourners bid farewell to Mobita last Saturday in Kumakwane. She was 102 years old

More than a century ago, on June 1, 1914, a small village of Kumakwane, in the south west of Kweneng district witnessed the birth of Kemmonye Angelinah Mobita, a being who would go on to become one of the most celebrated, honoured, respected and loved individuals within the Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Gaborone.

Born to Thapelo and Gobuamang Peloyang who both hailed from Kumakwane, she was the 5th born of seven children. Her siblings were Goitsemodimo, Koobame, Keakae, Thoromo, Peloyang and Goitsemang.

Angelinah was raised in Kumakwane at Botshabelo ward, within an extended family and in an environment that was very strict with high moral values. Their family life was based on farming. Angelinah attended school in Kumakwane and only did six grades. In 1930 Angelinah experienced some sadness as her beloved mother, Gobuamang died when she was 16 years old. Her father Thapelo died in the 1950s. She got married to Charlie Mobita in 1933 at the age of 19. Charlie was from Malawi and worked as a chef to Ellen Burch who was employed as  deputy Commissioner between Gaborone and Mafikeng. In 1943 Angelinah was blessed with a baby boy who was her only child and she named him Lekgobo. He passed away in May 1965 at the age of 22. Charlie Mobita died in 1972.


Angelinah and the Catholic Church

Angelinah became a member of the Roman Catholic church in 1946 while in Mafikeng where she resided with her husband Charlie. It is interesting to note that her parents were devoted members of the United Congregational Church of South Africa (UCCSA), which was the only and dominant denomination in Kumakwane.

While in Mafikeng she met a woman by the name Elizabeth Jonas who was a catholic and from Kumakwane and introduced her to the catholic church. She received the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist in 1947 while in Mafikeng. In the Catholic church the Trinitarian Baptism, makes the baptised person become a new creature in Christ and receives the free gifted sanctifying grace brought by Christ’s sacrificial death. The sacrament of Eucharist which is believed to be the central sacrament of the Church is seen as a sign of the real presence of Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity under the guise of bread and wine. It also unites the Catholic Church in an intimate relationship with Christ and brings the grace needed to live as a faithful believer.

In 1948 Angelinah and her husband together with Elizabeth returned to settle in Kumakwane. Angelinah received the Confirmation sacrement on October  14, 1948. With the sacrament of Confirmation the person being confirmed receives the Holy Spirit through the sacrament and is more perfectly united with Christ as a faithful believer and disciple of Christ. Angelinah received this sacrament in Kgale where the Catholic Church started in 1928. She received the sacrament together with Esther Malunga and Theresa Toitoi (both deceased) who also hailed from Kumakwane.

Following their confirmation sacrament, Angelinah and friends started attending Sunday mass and feast celebrations in Kgale. They had to walk more than 25 kilometres from Kumakwane in the company of Cathrine Gaatsalelwe who was already confirmed. This became part of their lives and on other days they celebrated mass at Holy Cross Parish in Mogoditshane. In the early 1950s Father Placid started visiting Gabane to celebrate mass. Angelinah and company started attending mass in Gabane where they were housed inside a shop belonging to Indians.

Angelinah’s enthusiasm to become a catechist was inspired by her love for the Catholic church emanating from her regular attendance of mass celebrations. She felt challenged to start Catechism classes for other people so as to share with them the Catholic faith teachings. Being someone with the power of moral persuasion Angelinah became one of the first voluntary catechists of the Catholic church in Botswana. In 1958 Angelinah started her Catechist work by introducing the Roman Catholic church in Kumakwane. She assembled her first group of learners in her compound during week days to teach them catechism of the Catholic Church, catholic songs and prayers.

During the ploughing season, they migrated to Letswereng, present day Talane farms near Kumakwane. The most important part of their learning was based on the sacraments, which are perceived as very significant within the church. The sacraments of the Catholic Church are the means by which Christ dispenses his grace to the members of the church.

The first group of the converts from Angelinah’s catechism classes in 1958 were Josephine Seane (Bishop Valentine Seane’s mother), CLaire and Lydia from Kebakile family. The second of 1960 included Angelinah Mocuminyana, Debora Phuthego, Edwina Thapelo, Albertinah Thapelo, Alphonsinah Kopane, Attracta Dickson, Celestinah Dickson, Anastacia Raswalaki and Barbra Oiputi.

All the aforementioned became the founding members of the Catholic Church in Kumakwane (present day St Mary Mother of Sorrows). Together with the converts, Angelinah travelled to Gabane to celebrate mass, where they received their sacraments.

She was further tasked with extending her catechism services to Gabane. In 1960 Father Placid started celebrating holy mass in Kumakwane monthly, later on he visited Kumakwane regularly and more and more people became interested in the Catholic faith. His visits gave a great boost and approval to the nascent Catholic community in Kumakwane.

At the time when Angelinah introduced the Roman Catholic Church in Kumakwane, the UCCSA was already in existence in the village and regarded as the official Christian faith in the village and was associated with royals.

The introduction of the Roman Catholic Church in Kumakwane resulted in misunderstandings between Angelinah as the leader of the Catholic Church and UCCSA leaders together with Bakwena Royals in Kumakwane led by Kgosi Kenalekgosi Sebele who was headman of Kumakwane.

She was tried with Esther Malunga and were both charged with deceit. At the end of the trial, no one was convicted  but were reprimanded. The public reprimand and persecution did not discourage her from carrying out her voluntary work as a catechist.

Angelinah has been recognised for her contribution to the growth of the Catholic church and has won several awards. She was also an active member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party which she joined in 1960 upon its formation.

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