We last left off in July 1842 with Sebego seeking to recruit Dr. David Livingstone by his side, while still facing a potentially hostile coalition to his return into eastern Gangwaketse.
For his part, the young then somewhat impetuous, Livingstone, who had arrived among the Batswana during the previous year, openly expressed his admiration for the courage and generalship of Sebego. Livingstone was then of the firm conviction that the reservations, if not hostility of other dikgosi towards Sebego were primarily the product of petty jealousy. In this respect, he went so far as to try to warn Sebego of the conspiracies being hatched against him.
Sebego received Livingstone’s warning, but was nonetheless already determined to push forward, re-establishing his headquarters at Moshaneng.
Diatleng alerted Segotshane, who in turn recruited additional armed support from Kgosi Mahura’s Batlhaping. With many of his own men, along with the Batlhaping, having guns, Segotshane together with Mahura attacked and defeated Sebego at Male. It was Sebego’s first in a series of military setbacks during the second half of 1842. He later confided to Livingstone that he had grossly underestimated the extent of his opponent’s firepower.
With his surviving following, Sebego found refuge with Bubi’s Bakwena faction. But, soon thereafter he suffered further losses when Bubi was in turn attacked by Sechele in a bloody, but unsuccessful attempt on the latter’s part to forcibly reunite the Bakwena. While Sechele had failed in his ultimate objective, his men enjoyed greater success relieving Sebego as well as Bubi of their cattle.
An Amandebele raid, which caught most of the merafe in the region off guard, continued the streak of misfortune. But some relief came when Sebego, escorted by a party of Griqua, visited Sechele who agreed to restore cattle to his former patron. Sebego was then able to settle with a by now reduced following at Tlhasokwane, where in addition to the good will of Sechele he could count on the friendship of his nephew, the recently installed Bakgatla baga Mmanaana Kgosi Mosielele, who was based nearby at Maanwane. Mosielele had grown up under Sebego prior to the c. 1840 death of his brother Kgosi Pheko, when he was called to assume the throne.
In February 1843, Sebego was finally visited by Livingstone. According to the latter’s account, after some initial tension caused by Sebego’s suspicion about the role of the Kudumane mission in the arming of his opponents, the two were able to confirm their friendship.
Notwithstanding the previous year’s humbling reverses, Livingstone remained convinced that Sebego could play an important role in the rebirth of
“He, however, during the whole of our visit behaved in a most friendly way. It being Saturday when I arrived, I explained the nature of the Sabbath and requested an opportunity to address his people. Next morning before daybreak, I was much pleased to hear a herald proclaiming that, by order of the chief, ‘nothing should be done on that day, but the praying to God and listening to the words of the foreigner’.
“He [Sebego] himself listened with great attention when I told him of ‘Jesus and the resurrection’, and I was not infrequently interrupted by him putting sensible questions on the subject. He told me he once saw Mr. Moffat, but as Mr. M. was then young and did not know the language it was not remarkable that Sebego had forgotten all he had said.”
In another conversation the two debated the meaning of the appearance of a large comet then in the Southern Hemisphere skies. Ka Setswana comets are traditionally seen a portents of calamity and the passing of great rulers. The deaths of Kgosi Bathoen I and Mmamosadinyana’s son King Edward VII along with the formation of the racist Union of South Africa were thus locally associated with the 1910 passage of Halley’s Comet.
Observing that he had seen a comet on the eve to the Amandebele invasion, Sebego wondered whether the sky now singled their return. He was also privately eager to know whether the baloi he had directed against his nemesis, Mahura, had come to fruition. Livingston scoffed at anything that detracted from the will of God.
After two weeks Livingstone departed, determined to return the next year to establish a mission at Mabotsa that would bring light to Sebego’s Bangwaketse along with the area’s Bakgatla baga Mmanaana and Balete. But, before the missionary’s return, Sebego was dead; killed in November 1844 by an apparent hunting accident near Kudumane, while on route to Griquatown to visit its leader Klaas Waterboer.
Some allege that the accident was really an assassination. Others allege that Sebego was on a journey to acquire the firearms he needed to once more make himself the most dreaded of all dikgosi. We can never know for sure.