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Bangwaketse, Bahurutshe in “leopard skin” brawl

A conceivable tribal row may emerge between Bahurutshe of Manyana village and Bangwaketse as the Bahurutshe last week visited the latter at their main kgotla in Kanye to inform them of their intention to wrap Kgosi Curty Kebinatshwene Mosielele with a “leopard skin” and crown him as kgosi.


Mosielele was officially installed as a Kgosi in 2010 taking over from his father, Mareko Mark Mosielele who became unwell and passed on in 2015. Indications suggest that only the coronations of paramount chiefs are associated with a leopard skin or a lion (like the Bangwato) which symbolises “dominance” in terms of the geographical location. Manyana village falls under Ga-Ngwaketse territory and Kgosi Malope Gaseitsiwe II has the authority and power to address a kgotla gathering at the village.  


Subsequent to receiving news that Bahurutshe want to adorn their Kgosi with a leopard skin, Malope II then consulted with his tribesmen of the development. He then moved on swiftly to call a lebatla on Wednesday last week in which the Bahurutshe elders informed the tribe that in August later this year they will undertake the planned task of gilding Kgosi Mosielele with a leopard skin.


Information further reaching this publication suggests that Mosielele does not necessarily harbour ambitions of being a Paramount Chief displacing Malope II, instead, it is understood that his desires are just “to wear” a leopard skin when installed as a Kgosi, but still under Malope II.  


When reached for comment las week Friday, Malope confirmed to this publication of the said lebatla but would not be drawn into further details. He subsequently referred this reporter to village elders whom, owing to their experience and age and, as his deputies are graced with historical information on the matter.


It is understood that at the said Bangwaketse lebatla, the old folks narrated their stories and what they know as far as bogosi and the wrapping with leopard skin is concerned. It is said that some Bangwaketse felt it was “improper” for Kgosi Mosielele to wear a leopard skin.
They mentioned that, even his father, Mareko Mosielele was not crowned through the use of a leopard skin during his coronation in 1952.


However on his part, Mosielele told WeekendPost that indeed, as a tribe, they went to Kanye kgotlakgolo (main kgotla) to “inform” them that in August later this year Bahurutshe will be undertaking an official installation of their kgosi – with a leopard skin. He said they were doing this out of respect for Bangwaketse, and stressed that he highly respects Malope II particularly because they stay in his territory of Ga-Ngwaketse.


“The crux of the matter is, as Bahurutshe, we are in the zone of Bangwaketse. But we are not Bangwaketse. Our totem is a baboon (tshwene) but theirs is a crocodile (kwena). Our cultural customs and practices also differ,” Mosielele hinted to this publication.
According to the Manyana Kgosi, their cultural tradition dictates that a kgosi undergoes a crowning through wearing of a leopard skin. To justify his point, he gave an example that his late father Mareko Mosielele went through the same (wearing a leopard skin) when he was officially installed.


He added that he was then installed by his uncles together with Kgosi Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II who was Bangwaketse paramount chief during the time. “So in short, through my planned installation with a leopard skin, we are doing what our tradition dictates, Bahurutshe believe vehemently that this task should proceed and nothing will stop it, not even the Bangwaketse,” Mosielele emphasised.


Meanwhile, a dikgosi historical independent Professor at the University of Botswana (UB) who preferred anonymity due to private reasons, told WeekendPost that the issue is a conflict particularly because Manyana village is part of Ga-Ngwaketse zone in terms of geographic setting. Customary law dictates that within a geographical location there should be one Kgosi-Kgolo who can only undergo crowning by being wrapped with a leopard skin, the academic highlighted.


According to the UB Professor, Mosielele, if anything, can be installed with a leopard skin only at his other subjects’ location at Lehurutshe village, in South Africa and not in the Ngwaketse terrain. “He has the power to wear the leopard skin but can only do so at Lehurutshe. Mosielele is senior chief in the family so he can even rule from South Africa if he so wishes just like Kgosikgolo Kgafela of Bakgatla is doing from Moruleng.”


The UB lecturer maintained that he believes the issue could have been handled in a delicate manner as it opens up to an unnecessary stand-off between the two tribes (Bangwaketse and Bahurutshe). “Mosielele and Malope are friends. They are relatively young and new chiefs and I believe Mosielele did not act in a manner aimed at protecting himself and his senior chief, Malope,” he opined.


The independent analyst pointed out that, it was also unsuitable for Mosielele to send his village elders to Kanye to “inform” as opposed to consulting Bangwaketse. He added: “regardless of his intention (Mosielele) however, leopard skin does not give him any increased powers.”


The UB lecturer then continued to point out that at this stage, it will be difficult for Mosielele to rescind from the move as it would seem like a defeat. “Equally if he proceeds while Bangwaketse are unsettled with the development, he said, it may lead to a tribalistic combat and therefore it is a potentially explosive tribal skirmish that may get out of hand if not handled with care,” noted the UB professor.

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