Tshekedi Khama was right to oppose Seretse’s marriage

“Throughout Tshekedi’s long career, he had looked towards the time when he would transfer the chieftainship to his nephew Seretse; he attended so carefully to the details of Seretse’s interests that he shopped personally in Johannesburg for Seretse’s bridles saying “only the best were suitable for the next chief.”

It is interesting that what has been made available for public consumption has been that Tshekedi, in one sense or the other hated Seretse with all intensity. Of course Tshekedi was a no nonsense leader regardless of whom he was faced with, including the British colonial masters. Tshekedi was to Seretse a loving uncle who, in one way or the other, had assumed to role of a father to Seretse. Remember that Seretse’s father, Sekgoma, had died when Seretse was only four-years-old.

Seretse had never experienced a father’s love in all the years of his self-awareness. Tshekedi fitted the father figure that he ever would desire. The relationship between the two had always been cordial and the departure point was Seretse’s marriage to a white woman.

It was Tshekedi’s wish that Seretse should assume the chieftaincy at the age of twenty-three when he had just completed his studies in South Africa. Tshekedi was well aware that he was thrown into the same seat at the age of twenty-five, about a quarter of a century earlier. It was Seretse’s wish and desire to continue persuing Western education.


Tshekedi’s gripe on this matter was that while his nephew was doing a noble thing to get education, he was at the same time losing out on tribal education. Seretse requested his uncle to study law in Britain and become a barrister.

Tshekedi would not have made such bold suggestions if indeed he wanted to hold onto power indefinitely.

In fact, Seretse’s study leave was a genuine reason for holding onto power, but we did not want to be regent indefinitely. After the number of years that Tshekedi had been holding fort for his nephew, he had reached a point where he was getting fatigued from the many skirmishes he had with his own tribesmen and the British overlords. 

From the time Tshekedi assumed the throne in 1926, there were some in the tribe that were totally against his ascension to power. I would want to believe that young as he was at the time he became regent, he had already exhibited his strong personality. He was a man of character, a principled chief who always would stick to his guns regardless of whatever obstacle lay ahead of him.

Tshekedi always ran into trouble. His tribal leadership was particularly characterised by trouble. For this reason, Tshekedi had to take early retirement.

One of the issues that defined his character and his leadership was when he flogged a young European who had been womanising all over Serowe.

The British were angered by his direct violation of their authority and above all he had humiliated a European by that public flogging in the open kgotla while Africans were watching.

Editor's Comment
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