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Bogosi Jwa Bakgatla Bagammanaana (Part 3)


Jeff Ramsay

We last left off with the observation that the only mophato raised during the brief reign of Kgosi Kgabophuti (1912-18) was the Malwelakgosi, who are notable for being the first among the Bakgatla bagaMmanaana at Mosopa who were not sent to bogwera or traditional initiation school.

Instead many of the Malwelakgosi were enlisted in the 5th (High Commission Territories) Battalion of the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC), which performed military service on the Western Front in France during the First World War.

Kgabophuti's abolition of bogwera, which apparently arose from his own LMS (UCCSA) religious convictions, was otherwise consistent with the desire of his Bangwaketse overlord, Kgosi Seepapitso II. It was, however, a sharp break from the position that had been adopted by his uncle and Regent Kgosi Gobuamang, who had maintained the practice among the BagaMmanaana.

In 1904, Gobuamang had thus openly defied Seepapitso's father, Kgosi Bathoen I, who had banned traditional initiation rites within Gangwaketse. Bathoen's annoyance with Gobuamang was aggravated by the fact that boys from Kanye had attended the Mosopa initiation school.

Gobuamang's perceived challenge to Bathoen's authority resulted in a colonial inquiry into the matter, which was held under the auspices of the then Assistant Commissioner for the Southern Protectorate Jules "Ramaeba" Ellenberger. In the end "Gobbleman", as Ellenberger and other British officials had begun to refer to Gobuamang, was sternly warned to obey his "Chief".

Under Kgabophuti, Mosopa's internal peace was also disrupted by disputes over possession of the central (now UCSSA) church building between supporters of the L.M.S., backed by the Kgosi, and breakaway independent African church of Mothowagae Motlogelwe, which continued to enjoy Gobuamang's patronage. The building, itself, had been constructed by mephato during Gobuamang's regency.

Notwithstanding the property dispute, the Mothowagae church continued to be tolerated. Its local moruti was a former L.M.S. evangelist of Batlhaping origin named Diphokwe, who eventually affiliated himself with the Lobatse based African Methodist Episcopal mission of the Rev. Gabashane.

Another local evangelist named Thupane, however, encountered official opposition in his pioneer efforts to also introduce the Apostolic Faith Mission into the village.

With Kgabophuti's sudden death in 1918, succession finally passed on to Gobuamang. The early deaths of both of his brother Pilane's sons inevitably gave rise to some suspicions. One innocuous story is that back in 1870 Gobuamang had initially wished to follow Mosielele to Gamafikana. But, at Polokwe Hill, he was instructed by his father to return to his brother's side after being blessed with longevity.

Kgabophuti is known to have been a victim of the great 1918 "Spanish Influenza" pandemic (known ka Setswana as "Leroborobo"), which killed up to 10% of Botswana's population within a twelve month period, as well as some twenty million people worldwide.

No region in the world appears to have been more devastated by the 1918 Influenza than Southern Africa. Available statistics suggest that overall some half million Africans in the Union of South Africa and adjacent High Commission Territories perished while another three million were afflicted out of a total population that at the time only numbered about six million.

By contrast the number of fatalities in the USA, where as elsewhere the virus's appearance traumatized a generation, is variously estimated to have been between 500 and 675 thousand out of a then national population of 104 million.

We now know that the epicentre of great 1918 Influenza was the First World War battlefields of France. The name "Spanish Influenza" arose due to official censorship. Both sides in the conflict tried to cover up the pandemic when it began to emerge as an extraordinary public health risk in 1917. Early public reports about it thus came out of neutral Spain.

The spread of Influenza across the globe largely followed the path of returning troops at the end of the war, including the SANLC which was disbanded in early 1918, before the final armistice due to South African Government racial concerns.

Alerted by outbreaks elsewhere, the South African authorities initially quarantined the returning troops. But when no signs of the influenza were initially detected the veterans were discharged.

The health authorities at Cape Town were subsequently horrified when the nurses and other personal who had manned the quarantine stations began to get sick and die in large numbers.

The first decade of Kgosi Gobuamang's own reign are remembered as a time of unity and progress for the morafe. The rift in the church was finally healed in 1926 when Mothowagae's local followers agreed to reunite with the L.M.S. This hard won reconciliation helps to explain the community's initial reluctance to allow the Seven Day Adventists (SDA, Sabata) to set up a medical mission clinic in the village, as a satellite to the SDA hospital then being established in Kanye.

With the community otherwise united under his authority, Gobuamang like so many of his peers, was able to initiate various self-help efforts, which included the building a Bakgatla bagaMmanaana "National Office" as well as schools.

During the period there is little evidence of tension between Kanye and Mosopa. In both their fields and at the mines of Gauteng, Bangwaketse and BagaMmanaana worked and socialized as one.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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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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