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Kgosi Sebele II (Part 9): Bogwera & Bojale

Jeff Ramsay


Our previous episode noted the rise of the initially Afro-centric Order of Ethiopia aligned Anglican Church in Molepolole during the reign and with the support of Sebele II's father Kgosi Kealeboga Sechele II.

This development resulted in an at time bitter sectarian division between followers of the Anglican S.P.G. and previously established L.M.S. mission societies.

Unsurprisingly, L.M.S. efforts to get the colonial Government to undermine Kgosi Kealeboga's authority, while suppressing their Church of England proved futile, The Resident Commissioner did, however, use the local conflict as a pretext in 1917 to order the expulsion the St. Paul's School head George Mashwe and Bakwena Tribal Secretary and local ANC organiser Richard Sidzumo, both of whom had been domiciled in Mahikeng, from the Protectorate as "undesirable aliens."

Mashwe's removal was widely resented by Bakwena.


Beyond appreciation of his efforts in building up first the Bakwena National and then St. Paul's School he had by then married a Mokwena and had generally been accepted as a member of the community. With the full support of his morafe's otherwise still divided factions, Sechele II in his final months petitioned the British authorities for the moruti's restoration.

The issue of Mashwe was still ongoing when Sebele II assumed his late father's throne in February of 1918.


The response by the Mahikeng administration to Sebele II's own support for Mashwe's return was an early harbinger of tensions to come. Writing in June 1918 the Resident Commissioner, James Macgregor, warned the young chief:

"You are going too fast my friend, remember what I told you in the Kgotla the other day 'Lepotlas potla le ya poli [Sesotho] Drop this matter please. Remember that you are not yet confirmed in your chair of chieftainship by the Secretary of state and don't make it difficult for me to tell the King in due time hat you are a fit and proper person to be his Mokwena.



Whereas his father had clashed with the L.M.S. largely due to what he perceived as the denomination's political interference, Sebele II's championing of bogwera and bojale resulted in his ultimate break with both missions.

After St. Paul's parish came under the authority of the SPG missionary Rev. Clissold, both of Molepolole churches were united in banning their members from taking part in bogwera and bojale. The resulting tensions would ultimately be used as a pretext by the colonial authorities to allege that Sebele II in his zeal for the practice enforced attendance.

The later accusation is at most simplistic. Although instances of coercion undoubtedly took place Sekwena law continued to uphold the right of choice in the matter.


The real source of controversy was who within a divided lineage was entitled to decide whether a particular boy or girl attended. In this context Sebele's younger brother Mosarwa, who was originally designated to be the leader of the 1922 Malatakgosi regiment, may have gone to Kimberly to escape the pressure of his senior sibling.

Evidence, however, further indicates that Sebele's younger brother Kgari willingly accepted the leadership of the Mayakathata mophato in 1924 despite the disputed tradition that the regiment's name signified "those that went under compulsion".

The counter tradition to this that "thata" rather denoted many thus the regiment was truly designated as "those who went in large numbers."


The 1925 Report of the London Missionary Society confirms that "no fewer than 200 boys attended the initiation ceremonies.

Beyond sanctioning the parents of initiates in Kanye, as well as Molepolole, the L.M.S. sponsored the local formation of the Boy's and Girl's Life Brigades, a Christian youth movement patterned after the Boy's and Girl's Scouts, to provide a moral alternative to what they considered to be the return of heathen practices. The March 1923 LMS report had thus observed that:

"At Kanye as in Moleplole there has been a revival of heathenism. The forward movement chronicled in 1921 was met by a counter move in 1922 from the Powers of Darkness.



The Boy's Brigades, however, had all but collapsed by 1929. In 1932 both brigades were merged into the more secular "Pathfinders" and "Wayfarers" youth movement.

Another policy of the missionaries was to bar those who attended bogwera and bojale from their schools. In response, in 1923 Sebele II took control of local education by appointing three of his own, eminently qualified, subjects – Goktweng Gaealafshwe, David Kgosideintsi and Martinus Seboni – as members of school board to oversee matters alongside two mission representative, i.e. one L.M.S. and one S.P.G.

The authorities in Mahikeng eventually allowed this reform to stand despite the objections of the then Molepolole magistrate, Claude Ledeboer.


Thereafter the two mission societies came to cooperate with the Kgosi's representative, albeit not without some occasional misgivings by old school diehards such as the by then sidelined Rev. Hayden Lewis:

"The whole influence of the male teacher in the schools is against the teaching of Christ, and young men of education are following in the footsteps of their dissolute Chief and at present there seem to be no way of making the alternative need, in order to win back the schools to the influence and control of the right people…Our Christian children are being taught by anti-Christian and morally corrupt teachers."

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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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