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Kgosi Sebele II (Part 18): The Destruction of Old Molepolole



In our last episode it was observed that by November 1933 Resident Commissioner Rey, had decided as part of his plans for the relocation of Molepolole away from its two then existing clusters of Ntsweng and Borakalalo, to incorporate the additional goal of introducing residential race segregation into the community.

By the regional standards of the time Molepolole was relatively integrated. Examples of what the racist authorities labelled as "miscegenation" or race mixing could by then be found among most of Molepolole's "non-Native" families, while Sebele's second wife, Susan (nee Wolf) was a Motlokwa of mixed race background.

This circumstance had attracted the attention of the Union Government in Pretoria as well as the Protectorate’s administrative enclave in Mahikeng. In a 1929 study on the status of Europeans in Bechuanaland the Director of the South African Bureau of Educational and Social Research, Dr. E.G. Malherb had observed that:

"Dealing with the question of race mixture first, I feel that the problem should be tackled immediately. I am not referring to isolated cases here there which seem unavoidable, but have in mind particularly the situation at Molepolole, where practically the whole European community is involved. The situation there is both serious and difficult. The seriousness lies in the fact that the people with a touch of coloured blood are respectable and on practically the same level as the Europeans."

In the face of the continued refusal of Bakwena to move, in April 1937 Rey finally undertook stronger measures to assure his desired resettlement. Mounted police began carrying out a policy of mass arrests. People were summoned by the score and fined the then considerable sum of 5 pounds or one month with hard labour each for their refusal to move.

After week, during which some 300 were summoned and 102 convicted, resulting in the jails at both Gaberones Camp and Molepolole becoming filled beyond capacity, the Bakwena surrendered and began moving. Had they held out few days longer it is likely that it would have been the British who would have been forced to capitulate.

But, the Queen-Mother, Phetogo, briefly joined by her daughter-in-law Susan (Mmamoruakgomo), who in 1936 brought her children from Ghanzi where they were denied schooling, and son Mosarwa continued to hold out. As Mmamoruakgomo later recalled:

"I took our five children to stay with Phetogo Sechele, the queen mother and Sebele's supporters at Ntsweng, near Molepolole. Sebele's brother Kgari Sechele II, who had succeeded as chief treated us badly. He was jealous. Of all Sebele's wives I was the only one who had sons, and Kgari knew they were the rightful heirs to the throne. Kgari kept us for days without food. Those who sympathised with us were arrested and their homes at Ntsweng demolished and they were forced to move from Ntsweng to join Kgari's supporters at present day Molepolole. I took my five children and fled to Tlokweng. I feared for our lives.

Until her death two decades later, however, Phetogo remained defiant inside Sebele's Bakwena National Office, which has ever since been locally referred to as ''MmaKgosing.'' Today its ruins are only building still partially standing at Ntsweng. The palatial house of Sechele I, which had up until then been preserved as his monument (and gravesite) was razed along with other buildings.  Only the European residents were, partially, compensated for their losses. For decades thereafter many of the affected generation of Bakwena remained bitter.

The support given by Bathoen II and Tshekedi Khama to the BoSebele coincided with their increasingly vigorous resistance to Rey's Native Administration and Justice Proclamations. If the Resident Commissioner thought that he would intimidate the dikgosi by his action against Sebele he badly misjudged their characters.

Tshekedi did, in fact, believe that ''he would be the next to go." But this assumption seems to have strengthened his determination to challenge Rey's Proclamations, which explicitly empowered the colonial government to suspend or depose Chiefs without reference to either local opinion or any form Judicial enquiry. He also objected the provisions mandating the delegation of royal authority to appointed Tribal Councils:

"An administering Council is something which does not agree with the fundamental principal of Native Administration as it introduces a principal in a native society for anybody to act apart from the head or Chief. In this regard the Bakwena have been quoted time and time again as exceptions to the rule. Some of us do respectfully warn those in authority that the Bakwena Council has gone a long way to convince the natives of the undesirability of an acting Council in the place of an acting Chief Someday this truth will be impressed upon the administration."

Tshekedl and Bathoen's refusal to implement the Proclamations, resulting in their 1936 legal challenge before the High Court, thus also called into question the legitimacy of Sebele's removal. Although the Judge ruled against the dikgosi, citing the colonial government's ''unfettered and unlimited powers" under the Foreign Jurisdictions Act, the Proclamations were thereafter withdrawn as unworkable. By then Rey's superiors had concluded that his heavy handed approach to the Chiefs, and the consequent turmoil within Kweneng and the other Reserves, had been counter-productive.

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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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