PALAPYE: After a long wait since Bagammagwato chieftaincy approved the appointment of Martha Lebang as Palapye’s headman of records, the youthful woman of Boikago ward last week eventually resumed her duties at the village main kgotla.
This comes after the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development finally ratified Lebang as Kgosi.
The 44-year-old would go down the history books as the first female chief in the Palapye sub-tribal authority.
She fills the headman of records position held previously by former educationalist and ex-permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Keetla Masogo, who passed on in 2018.
Towards the end of last year at a Kgotla gathering, the Palapye community nominated Lebang ahead of Robert Kealotswe, Kelebale Maemo and Vincent Maje.
After almost eight months of waiting, since her name was delivered to the ministry for appointment, she is delighted to finally begin her journey as the village leader.
Lebang said the Kgotla was a familiar territory for her, and she had no qualms she would be able to deliver on her duties. Her father, Isaac Lebang is Boikago ward headman, a position he has held for over a decade.
“I am happy that the wait is over and I can start working towards bettering the community and contributing to the development of the village in general,” the newly-appointed Lebang said with a grin, when The Monitor caught up with her.
Lebang added she was grateful to the villagers who remained eager and incessantly questioned when she would start her duties.
“It gave me a lot of courage that truly shows how much confidence and hope people have in you. I am indebted to the people of Palapye,” she added.
Lebang said top of her priorities is to open up the Kgotla, ease the environment and do away with the perception that it was a rigid place where cases are resolved by a stick.
“This is a place of peace, where the difference was sought out justly. The community should love to come to the Kgotla, and they should enjoy the services. I look to expedite services with the exuberance I carry as a youthful woman,” she said.
The mother of three daughters said amongst other priorities she would take with high regard include issues of domestic violence against women and children.
“I am ready to focus on assisting the community spread messages of abuse on women and the girl-child. I will spread the message and at the same time I will ensure perpetrators in such cases
The newly appointed Kgosi faces a tough task of taking care of Palapye and its villages and settlements in the periphery that fall under the Palapye Kgotla.
To deal with the vast territory, Palapye has three head chiefs. At the moment, there are two, Lebang and Kgosi Masego Olebile. This was after Kgosi Michael Maforaga’s term ended back in April.
On September 30, Kgosi Olebile’s contract would come to an end, and Olebile who served for 16 years at the Kgotla is ready for retirement. Lebang reckons it was going to be a tall order to grasp everything in a short period of time.
“But I am up for the challenge. I have stayed in a house of Bogosi, I have learnt lessons, and I am still put through the same lessons until today. I am surrounded by headmen of all the different wards in the village here at the moment and I am confident I would learn a lot from them.”
Lebang’s term at the Kgotla resumed without the usual introductions to the community due to the coronavirus atmosphere that does not allow for gatherings.
Olebile, and other village elders that included pastors from different churches and senior civil servants welcomed her to the Kgotla.
“We would have wished to do the normal, but that would come when the situation allows. Otherwise, we move around wherever there are official gatherings to introduce Kgosi to the people of Palapye,” Olebile said.
Olebile said the job at the Palapye Kgotla was immense due to the developments around the village. He said new companies and opportunities for employment have brought different characters from all walks of life, and many have presented distress.
He was confident, however, in the new Kgosi. “She is [like] my daughter that I have known for the last few days she has done as I had expected she would do.”
“I am confident she would learn quickly, and she would be able to deal with all the social ills and the developments of the village. She has a lot of time in her that she would learn and become a better leader for Palapye,” he said.