The noblest man that ever lived in the tide of times, Kgosi Bathoen II

Kgosi Bathoen II, affectionately known as B2, was born in Kanye in 1908. His age-set (regiment), Maisantwa, was established in 1928 and named after that of his grandfather Bathoen I.

B2 was the eldest son of Kgosi Seepapitso III and Mogatsakgari Ratshosa (granddaughter to Kgosi Kgama III). Kgosi Seepapitso III's two siblings from (Bathoen I's house) were Moaepitso (brother) and Ntebogan (sister).  Kgosi Bathoen II's siblings  were Mookami Gaseitsiwe and Mme Seyelo Gaseitsiwe. His father Seepapitso III was assassinated in the Kgotla in 1916 by Moeapitso who was later ordered to hang by their mother Mohumagadi Gagoangwe, daugher to Kgosi Sechele I.

After the untimely death of Kgosi Seepapitso III, the Bangwaketse were ruled by a series of Regents on behalf of Bathoen II. These Regents were as follows: Kgosimotse (1916-1918), Malope (1918-1919), Tshosa (1919-1923), Mohumagadi Gagoangwe (1923-1924) and Ntebogan (1924-1928).

Kgosi Bathoen II married Mme Mmafane Ester Ketimetse Gaseitsiwe, a daughter  of  the  Barolong of Thabanchu. Mohumagadi Mme Mmafane was a devout Seventh Day Adventist like Mme Ntebogan, her aunt-in-law. The two may be credited for the advancement of Adventism in Gangwaketse.

Notwithstanding, B2 was a staunch member of the London Missionary Society. He was also an evangelist with co-clergies such as Reverend Motsatsing Andrew Kgasa. The marriage between Kgosi Bathoen II and Mme Mmafane blessed them with two sons Seepapitso IV and Seatla and three daughters, Bonolo, Bonno and Bontleeng.

Unfortunately, in October 1966, Mohumagadi Mme Mmafane passed away (in the next publication I will talk about B2's marriage to Mme Onyana Margret Molema Gaseitsiwe( who passed on shortly after marriage) and Mme Koitheng Athlenda Makgothi Gaseitsiwe. B2 was installed as Chief in 1928.

During his reign, B2 was very instrumental in a number of projects in Gangwaketse. Through regiments (mephato), he promoted the building of schools such as Seepapitso Secondary School. He supported schools with vegetables from Mmakgodumo Dam, which was built by his father Seepapitso III. He also promoted public health and agriculture. Infact, he introduced the first agricultural show in Botswana with his friend, Russell England. B2 was often commended for promoting cleanliness in Gangwaketse by the likes of Sir John Maud and Lord Harding (British colonial officials).  He was also a tennis and football player and was involved in sports organisation. B2 will also be remembered for the preservation of customary matrimonial law. Some of his other notable achievements were as follows:  In 1946, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1957 by Her Majesty the Queen of England.  In 1965, B2 became the first Chairman of the House of Chiefs.

However, in 1969, he left Bogosi and was elected to the National Assembly as the MP for Kanye under the Botswana National Front (BNF) banner. He was soon ushered into a position of leadership in the same organization that he held for a long time.
Nevertheless, in 1985, he retired from active politics and was appointed President of the Customary Court of Appeal. B2 died in October 1990 and was buried in the main Kgotla in Kanye.

In Shakespeare's play, Mark Antony calls Caesar "the noblest man that ever lived in the tide of times." We call B2 so today.
*Seane Ramaologa Keboetswe BA Hum, DSE, MA (Litt) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literary Studies at Molepolole College of Education.

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