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THE LOST KINGDOM – THE RISE AND FALL OF THE IKALANGA MONARCHY (PART 4)

Jeff Ramsay
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA

In our previous instalment we noted that excavations at Khami and other Chibundule era sites confirm that from the sixteenth century the Bakalanga and their neighbours were connected to extensive international trading networks. Ceramics and glass objects of Chinese, Dutch, German and Portuguese origin have been unearthed, along with fragments of both imported and locally manufactured cotton cloth, indigenous pottery and objects made of gold, iron and copper.

There was also considerable local manufacturing. Indigenous pride in traditional cottage industries is reflected in the following Ikalanga verses praising their “cleverness” (“Buchenjebvu gwebaKalanga nebunyambi”:)

“Bakabe beziba tsipi imumavu. Mhuli imwe neyimwe yakaba iyenda kumangula inosenga mabwe ewavutiwa kuna mixa dzeduma nebutho. Kupfugwa: mapadza, mathumo, maxanhu, mipanga, man”ina, kachi kene majoda, zwinyengo, njunji, hopolo, maboko anobhata imwe tsipiinopisa, mbehwana. Zwidla zwabo zwabodlila noxingila: hali dzobumbiwa ngontapwi, ndili nematuni, nemisi nenjugo kobva mumiti nomumidzi yemiti, selo nezwitundu. Zwifuko zwabo zwabva mumhuka nemuzwipfuwo nentsinga dzinopfuma, dzobva mumhuka nemuzwipfumo. Banhu bose bakabe tama izwezwi zwinhu banodan”wa batama bezwiddla, bengubo nemathumo…”

“(Translation:) They knew the iron which is in the earth and families collected copper ore, which was taken to the enclosures for extracting and smelting. There the following things were cast: hoes, spears, axes, knives, earrings, bracelets, blades, long needles, hoop irons, pairs of pliers to hold other iron and adzes for carpentry. Their eating utensils included pots moulded from clay, plates, mortars and pestles, wooden spoons, winnowing baskets and big baskets for storing things. Their clothing came from wild animals and from livestock, and also from their sinew, which was used for sewing cords. All the people who were making these things were called makers of the eating utensils, of blankets, and of spears….”

The Bakalanga also became renowned for their possession of imported firearms, including cannon. By the nineteenth century they, along with their Vashona cousins had begun to construct guns of local manufacture known by the Chishona name “chigidi” or “zvigidi”, as well as make their own gunpowder by combining charcoal with salt-petre extracted from soils found in certain caves.

While the Chibundule state was known to the Portuguese by the names Torwa/Tolwa and Butwa, and archaeologists sometimes speak of “Khami culture”, Ikalanga traditions associate the dynasty with the Bawumbe (Bahumbe) sub-group of the Balilima-Bakalanga. In this respect, oral traditions link the Chibundule kings with a number of Botswana based lineages.

One set of traditions speaks of Chibundule’s inheritance being fought over by three sons: Misola, Makulukusa and Mpengo. According to these traditions, the eldest of the three sons, Misola, ended up moving to Ramokgwebana, where he was ultimately succeeded by Mosojane. Under Mosojane the group was joined by Mpengo’s followers and moved to Maswingwa where they stayed until the early twentieth century when their land came under the control of the Tati Company.

Makulukusa’s followers are said to have initially settled at Mabilila on the Nkange River. In his later years he came into conflict with his son Nkuse, whom he called “Madandume” (“you are greedy”). Eventually Nkuse sought the protection of Men’we, a junior descendent of Nichasike (Changamire) who had been sent by his brother the Mambo to administer much of north-eastern Botswana. With Men’we’s backing Nkuse was subsequently able to oust his father from the throne. His senior descendants are today based at Tutume, a name which may be derived from “Madandume”.

Given that the direct descendants of Misola, Makulakusa and Mpengo are today all found in Botswana, there exact relationship with the mainline of the Chibundule royal lineage is uncertain. It may be that the three brothers were indeed the true heirs of the last of the Chibundule mambo’s who initially fled south west into modern Botswana to escape the usurper Nichasike. The latter figure overthrew the Chibundule dynasty c. 1685. The Bawumbe migration is at any rate recorded in the following royal Nichasike era tradition of a time of turmoil:

“…Ngono ibo bali bakaMoyo bakapfuka muna Dalahunde [another member of the Nichasike lineage known, ka Setswana, as “Talaote”], nebakaMakulukusa, nebakaMisole nebaka Nichibombwe; nayibo bamwe bakati ngebaMakulukusa, bamwe neebakaMisole, bamwe ngebakaNichibombwe, ngono bose ibaba bakatuna ntupo un’ompela, bakayi Chibelu bose. Ngono nayibo bali bakapfuka muna Dalahunde. Nakikati Chibwa, ngewaDalahunde, uNyayi. NaboMwayile, naMhange naKwelekwele, nayibo bakanozwixandula Mwayile naMhange bakatuna ntupo un’ompela bakayi Chuma bose; Kwelekwele kayi Gumbo. Ngono bakapfuka muna Ngomane bose, ibabo bakanobuya bova Budeti boti babe Badeti, bamwe babe Bahumbe [Bawumbe]. Abangabagwe bakapela nebakapfukila kuNtswapungu [Tswapong]….”

[Translation:] “….and those of Moyo totem migrated to into Botalaote [country of Dalahunde] and also those of Makulukusa and of Misola and of Nichibombwe; and now all were of one clan name for they were known as Chibelu. And they all also migrated into Botalaote. And also Nikati Chibwa was of Talaote, a Nyayi. And those of Mwayile and Mhange and Kwelekwele, they also all changed their names: Mwayile and Mhange both took the clan name Chuma and Kwelekwele was called Gumbo. These all migrated from under Ngomane, some who came from Boteti said they were Deti and others were Bawumbe. Some went on to Botswapong…”

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020
FATED “JIHADI” JOHN

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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