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Ratshosa’s Account Of The Christmas Season Return Of Three Kings From Britain

This week we take a break from our “Blackman’s War” series to share an English translation of Ratshosa aMostswetla account, published in the February 1896 edition of the Makoko a Becwana newspaper, of how Dikgosi Bathoen, Khama and Sebele were greeted upon their December 1895 return from their three month visit to the UK.

Both the translation and original Setswana text may be found in Mgadla and Volz’s book “Words of Batswana, Letters to Mahoko a Becwana 1883-1896”. "Dear editor, I am informing readers of the newspaper about our happiness. Our dikgosi had visited the Europeans; they went to see the Queen, and they saw her and talked with her. They also saw other friends who liked them, and the Congregation of god. The names of the dikgosi are Sebele, Khama and Bathoen. We wee without them for five months, and we saw them on the sixth one. They say that the nation of the Queen received them well, including the Queen and Parliament. The left England on November 23 and arrived at Cape Town on December 15 (1895), where they saw their friends. They entered Mahikeng on December 21, and they left there with happiness. At Pitsane Photlhoko, Kgosi Khama rode on a horse alone to see Dr, Jameson. After he had seen him he came to the wagons. They reached Kgorwe and met their people who had come to meet them with horse. They rode in large numbers – Bakwena, Batlokwa, Balete, Bakgatla, (Bahurutshe) ba Mmanyana le Bangwaketse, they all rode on horses. "When they arrived at Kanye on December 24, there was a lot of noise. Women and children and men all prepared themselves and dressed up happily. Woman ululated and kissed the Dikgosi’s hands and men praised them. The Maramakwe regiment jumped up with cowhide shields. The following day at noon, there was a large meeting at the church. Rev. Good preached and read to us the Word of the Lord Jesus, prayers were said and hymns of thanksgiving were sung. The following day, the two dikgosi, Khama and Sebele, left for their respective homes and Bathoen remained in his place. We arrived at Molepolole on December 28. When we arrived there, we were two missionaries -Mr. Good and his wife, and Mr. Willoughby and his wife. The had come to see the missionary of the Bakwena, who was very sick. When we arrived there, it happened just as when we entered Kanye. We found that the men had prepared with guns, which they fired, greeting the Kgosi with them. School children danced school songs. The women had dressed up and they ululated with all their might. The following day there was a prayer of thanksgiving in the church. "On January 1, 1896, Kgosi

Khama left Molepolole and went to Palapye, Kgosi Sebele remained. Entered Palapye on January 7 and we found the Bangwato ready to meet their master. We met them at the Tewane river; they were riding horses and were with the son of the kgosi, Sekgoma (II). When they were close to the wagons, they stopped and sang a hymn while still on their horses. Then we left and at the Lokakulwe river there came horses of the traders. The Europeans who had settled at Palapye came in happiness; they shouted while still far from the kgosi, raising their hats and saying “Hurray, Hurray!”. When we entered the village, there was a lot of noise. They were shooting guns; women were ululating and they were happy. "The next day there was a large prayer meeting. Psalm 116 was read, hymns of thanksgiving were sung, and prayers were said for the dikgosi, Sebele, Khama and Bathoen, along with their conductor and guide, Mr. Willoughby. We have hope that God has heard these prayers and he will; accordingly save us. Let it be like that. It is I writing Ratshosa Motswetla, Palapye." Ratshosa had accompanied Khama on his evening meeting with Leander Jameson, who was then preparing his ill-fated invasion of the Transvaal. His son Simon Ratshosa would years later provide some additional details: Khama: "Dr. Jameson, you have got a smooth tongue; I have known you for many years. If you say I should have relied on your guardianship and peaceful intentions, can you tell me why these things [artillery] in front of you. What is their object…are these guns you have not a sign of destruction and death? Please don’t think you can cheat me and take me for a child, my old friend. Your ambition is but one, to kill."

Jameson: "Oh no, no, Khama you must not say that. I am proceeding to Mafeking on some important business to perform, and am only going down with these guns to have them repaired."

Khama: "No doctor, don’t take me for a blind, I can see this is an expedition. Go forward on your expedition, which will bring you nothing but shame and disgrace. When I went over to England, I was afraid of these big guns. But now I am not!"

In the aftermath of the defeat of Jameson filibusters, Britain abandoned efforts to transfer administrative control of Botswana to Cecil Rhodes Chartered Company

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