Basarwa petition Bangwato over chieftainship


A tribal war has erupted between Basarwa and Bangwato in Nata village following the vacation of a chieftaincy seat by the village chief, Mokgwatsi Makgesi, a Mongwato who was elected to power 27 years ago.

Basarwa have written a strongly-worded letter to Bangwato regent, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, expressing their feelings. Nata is in the Central District under Bangwato Tribal Authority.

The letter dated October 8, 2015 passed to Mmegi says “we note that at the end of September 2015, the Chief of Nata resigned due to ill-health thus making that position vacant.”

The letter further reads, “a delegation was sent from Serowe to inform the people of Nata to prepare to elect someone to fill that vacancy. It is upon this basis that we would like to categorically state that the chieftaincy of Nata should be left to Basarwa of Nata.”

Basarwa poured their hearts out to Kgamane saying, “in every location in Botswana there are tribes in that locality and a person from that tribe is expected to be a chief of that predominant tribe.” The letter further reads that in Nata it is common cause that Basarwa are the inhabitants of that area and other tribes settled there recently.

“It is therefore befitting that a chief for Nata should come from the San community. We therefore urge all concerned that Basarwa of Nata should be left to choose from their own to lead them. The time has come that Basarwa are given their rights back. No tribe, except Basarwa has a right to chieftaincy in Nata, just like Basarwa do not have the right to chieftaincy in places where these tribes are dominant,” the letter says.

Furthermore, the letter says, “Bangwato in Nata have their chief in Serowe, the Bakhurutshe in Nata have their chief in Mmankgodi and the Bakalaka have their chiefs in North east. Let Basarwa also have their chief in Nata.”

In an interview with Mmegi, Kgamane said he was aware of the issues in Nata but declined to comment further as the issue was at its infancy.

“We do not want to take sides or make any pronouncements that may be deemed unfair or overriding. We have left the issue to morafe to decide and we will hear from them. We, as the leadership, recently had a meeting over the matter and we will be going back to Nata soon,” Kgamane said.

He declined to comment on other issues saying he will only be free to comment once all is said and done.

Despite Nata being a village that hosts Basarwa, Bakalaka and Bangwato among other tribes, Basarwa argue that they have been sidelined throughout history. They have watched with agony and despair as Bangwato exchanged the Nata bogosi seat without their involvement despite being the first settlers. Basarwa say that they now want the seat following the retirement of Makgesi.

The retiring chief’s second in command, Rebagamang Rancholo, it is understood, recently called a meeting with headman of arbitration to canvass for support for himself to be promoted to the vacant seat. It is understood that his subordinates gave his move the thumbs up and promised him support. Hell broke loose when the said headman went back to consult the people on the mater.

“We heard that they have agreed to the decision. That’s why we are taking up the matter with the leadership,” said the chairman of Botswana Khwedom Council, Leakwa Galenkutlwe. Basarwa say the Nata bogosi was determined by a vote and shall forever remain so if the right thing of giving back bogosi to the owners cannot be done.

“It is now our time to lead, if we leave Bangwato to lead in the manner that they want to, this will create confusion that this bogosi belongs to some people or family line of Bangwato,” Galenkutlwe, who is also a resident of Nata said.

Galenkutlwe intimated that Basarwa are capable and should be allowed to partake in the village’s developments. The wars in the Nata bogosi emanate from the fact that the bogosi in Nata is so powerful that it covers many surrounding areas such as Dukwi, Gweta, Mosetse, Sowa Town, Sepako, Mmanxotai, Tsokatshaa, Zoroga, and many others.

Confirming a meeting he had with dikgosana, Rancholo said they gave him support and agreed that he should fill the vacancy.

He dismissed Basarwa’s objection as tribalistic, further saying most of those who are against his promotion were young before he ascended to chieftaincy. “Look, I cannot be junior to a new person. I have acted and sat next to the chief, if a new person comes here he will have to ask me almost everything to effectively discharge his mandate,” he said.

Rancholo accused Bangwato bogosi leadership of sowing seeds of disunity in Nata. “Kgamane delegated his juniors here, and to our surprise they gave us conflicting messages. The other said he is leaving the issue to us while another implored morafe to find a candidate to fill the vacancy,” he said.

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