Staff Writer, TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE joined British ambassador, Katherine Ransome’s quest to visit the successors of the Three Chiefs, during the Molepolole leg. She reports the experience
Molepolole village, located 50 kilometres away from Gaborone, was regarded as Bechuanaland’s capital city during the colonial era.
The British Queen used to visit the village before she could proceed elsewhere in the country.
Molepolole was the base of Kgosikgolo Sebele I, one third of the legendary dikgosi who travelled to London in 1895 to persuade the Queen to stop annexation by Cecil John Rhodes’ South Africa.
During her visit to the capital of the Bakwena tribe, Ransome learnt that tribes would gather in Molepolole when the Queen arrived in Bechuanaland.
Ransome arrived on a Tuesday and deputy chief Keineetse Sebele told her that during the olden days, Tuesday was dedicated as the day for Scripture Union when people would also be taught how to read and write.
“Some people were excited to attend those classes as they wanted to read and write. The most important thing was communication because some wanted to pronounce English words,” Sebele said.
Sebele said the youth were encouraged to join the Scout movement to help their physical, mental and spiritual development.
“Things were hard during the olden days, but the British had good things that they brought around then. I remember very well that when Botswana attained independence in 1966, the country had no money and the British gave us money to start with.”
In response to Ransome’s questions about whether the youth attend kgotla meetings, Kgosikgolo, Kgosi Kgari III conceded that
“We use the kgotla to inform people about certain issues that the government has taken decisions on or any issue of national interest. The youth come in large numbers when there are issues regarding land because most of them want residential plots, which have since become scarce nowadays,” he said.
He continued: “I do use the kgotla to brief people on what has happened in Ntlo ya Dikgosi. We do encourage our youth to attend kgotla meetings so that they get involved in decision-making”.
Ransome and her delegation visited Ntsweng, which was the capital of Bakwena before they moved to Molepolole. Ntsweng is a historic site located a few kilometres southeast of Molepolole.
The area was first occupied by Bakwena, led by Sechele I, but was abandoned in 1937 when Bakwena were forced to move to Molepolole by Kgari II, assisted by the colonial administrators.
Today it consists of a large area covered with traces of occupation. Most notable are the patterns of stones laid on their edges to form house foundations, which are still visible on the surface.
There are also the ruins of what used to be Sebele II's office, which is presently referred to as Mmakgosi's house. The ruins of that building are situated next to an area, which used to be the royal kraal at Ntsweng, but is now the royal cemetery.