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The Jazz King (Part 12): "Tlhogo Ke Ea Kgosi"

Previously, we noted that during the 1920s Kgosi Sebele II’s exercise of authority over local European artisans and traders, was distorted into newspaper stories about the existence of "White Serfs" in Molepolole. Such press hysteria was ongoing when an attempt to enforce the local by-law against travelling by ox-wagon on a Sunday resulted in the following correspondence:

Letter by Kgosi Sebele II to

Captain Stigand, Resident

Magistrate Molepolole (5/4/1926:

“My Friend, I have the wagon here of Mr. W. Horne. It was stopped by my brothers Padi and Waboraro from going about on Sunday; before stopping this wagon they saw one belonging to those at Mokgopetsane, when they came to stop it, they found that it was carrying a sick person, and they left it.

Now from there they saw this wagon of Willie Horne passing, and a boy having the name of Ntu Taukobong was sent to stop it, and he was severely knocked on the top of his eye and made a wound.

“The boy Ntu came back to my brothers and reported the wound. Four more boys were sent again to stop the same wagon, Kangwane, Mochele, Mochwara-kgole, and Kike. The boy Kike when coming near the wagon spoke to W. Horne to stop the wagon and he stopped it at once.

He took out a rifle, those women in the wagon tried to stop him, but he knocked one of them, as he was so wild. When the boys saw the gun they ran away, however they managed after all to return the wagon at Mokgopetsane and brought it here. My law strictly prohibits wagons going about on Sunday.”


Response by Stigand to

Sebele II (5/4/1926):

“My Friend, with regard to your letter this morning concerning the stopping and seizing of Willie Horne’s wagon yesterday by boys sent by Padi and Waboraro, I enclose for your information a copy of a statement which Mr. Horne made this morning before Sub-Insp. Knott at this Office.  “This matter is for me, the Magistrate, to deal with. I shall have to hold an enquiry into the matter, taking the statements of all witnesses to the affair.

“The Government laws in this Protectorate lay down as follows in Proclamation of 10th January, 1891, Section 10: ‘no suit, action, or proceeding whatsoever to which a person of European birth, or descent shall be a party, either as plaintiff or complainant, or as a defendant or accused person, shall be adjudicated upon by any Native Chief, save by consent of all parties concerned.’

 “William Horne comes within this category; he does not pay Hut Tax but pays Poll Tax and like the Dutch and other residents here pays stand rent to the Chief for the stand where his house is...

“If anyone has

a bone fide charge of assault against anyone who is not according to law under your jurisdiction, there is the Magistrates Court. You will please return the seized wagon, donkey etc. to its owner. As I have stated the case will be gone into by me.”


Sebele II’s response

to Stigand (7/4/1926):

“I am surprised by the way you want to take this case; I find that you are quite unfair in it.

Let it be quite clear to you that the law prohibiting people from Sunday wagon trekking not only applies to the Bakwena themselves, but to everyone in the Reserve, European and Non-European. I am not against the Proclamation of the 10th of June 1891, section 10, but I take the proclamation in the way that it refers only to Criminal and Civil cases, not to cases as this one today.

If then you take them in the same way, why should you bring Mrs. Janssen’s case to me of the stolen pair of ladies shoes.

“It is the bounden duty of Mr. Horn to come and fetch his wagon not for me to take it to him, it was brought by the boys only to witness that they had done what they had done as they know the law.  You have seen the wounded boy Ntu Taukobong and the others; the wounded boy was struck on purpose not accidentally. 

“I am going to see that this is proved to you! The head belongs to the Chief- Tlhogo ke ea Kgosi, deal fairly with this case, the head is mine.

I am quite sure that if these boys were drunk as said by Willie they would have thrashed him; and it seems to me that you quite agree to Mr. Horne’s statement first [without] hearing all the witnesses.

 “I have read your letter to the Councillors, and we came to the conclusion that the day you are going to take this case, say two days previous let me know, I shall come to the case to hear the proceedings, and I will come with them the Bakwena; to come and get from you information as to why should the Bakwena law be taken as nothing, whereas it has been all times kept and carried, not only in our Reserve, but at Gamangwato and Kanye Reserves, they have it, and it applies to all, European and Non-European.”

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