Mokhutshwane Sekgoma of the Bangwato Tribal Authority got a nasty reception at the Tutume main kgotla recently.
He had gone there to officially tell residents that, Alphonse Nsala and Tapson Madikwe have been appointed to the positions of Senior Subordinate Tribal Authority (SSTA) and Subordinate Tribal Authority (STA) respectively.
While Nsala was filling the post left by Kgosi Jenamo Magapatona, when he retired in 2016, Madikwe was filling the position left by Nsala.
There was no ululation when Mokhutshwane entered the kgotla nor was there applause when Nsala and Madikwe were asked to rise and be formally introduced to the rather hostile crowd. The majority of dikgosi from the several villages that form the Tutume region refused to sit at the top table preferring instead to sit with their people.
With a steely face, the Bamangwato envoy made it clear that, the appointing authority is not the community but the Bangwato Tribal Authority under whose jurisdiction the Tutume district falls.
A man who did not identify himself demanded that Sediegeng Kgamane and not Mokhutshwane, should be addressing the people of Tutume. “Even the President meets people in person when they want to talk to him. Why is it difficult for us to meet Sediegeng Kgamane directly?” he asked rhetorically before warning Bakalanga to be careful about the Bangwato rule “by remote control as if we are their television sets.”
Edmont Moahi, a resident, challenged Mokhutshane to say whether the appointments of Nsala and Madikwe were the outcome of any consultation process. Angry Moahi then said, “I wish Jesus would come and realign land so that Bakalanga have got their own land independent of Bangwato.”
Gabriel Tshekiso wondered why in this day and age, some tribes were still ruled by others. “This practice is outdated. We should be equal such that each tribe is ruled by people from their midst,” said Tshekiso who finds it preposterous for somebody with a totem of rabbit (mmutla in Setswana or khupe in Kalanga) being ruled by someone who venerates a duiker (phuti or phembgwe in Kalanga ).
“The era of colonialism is over,” stated Tshekiso. For his part, Lempaletse Malike, who wished he was allowed to speak in his language at the kgotla, said that, to intimidate Bakalanga into silence, their Bangwato overlords never tire to warn them against politicians.
“This is an attempt at divide and rule because President Ian Khama is a politician. He is the Paramount Chief (Kgosikgolo) of this area. Go tell him we are not cattle in his farm. We want to be respected,” demanded Malike.
Dema Jesi, a former councillor, cannot understand why councillors from Tutume and other parts of the Central District still have to go to Serowe for their meetings. “If there is no tribalism in this country, then how come Bakalanga are not represented at the House of Chiefs by somebody from their midst?” he wondered.
Yet another resident, Victor Somolokae called upon Bakalanga to open their eyes to what is happening to them. “It is high time we wake up as Bakalanga because the oppression meted out on us by Tshekedi is still here. We must demand for a representative in the House of Chiefs if we do not want to remain marginalised and oppressed forever,” said Somolekae.
Another speaker Kgosi Moemedi Selolwane of Selolawne village, which is part of the Tutume district called for unity among Bakalanga. “Unity will give you dignity. If you are united, people will not be able to play around with you because you will be able to speak with one voice and demand representation at the House of Chiefs,” said Selolwane.
For his part, Kgosi Batshani Nswazwi, John Nswazwi’s grandson said, “We must demand for our own land just like the other tribes who have their own territory.” Nswazwi who threatened to boycott kgotla meetings addressed by Bangwato traditional leaders in future, added that if it were possible, he would bring his grandfather, John Nswazwi back to life to continue the struggle for Bakalanga independence from Bangwato.
Shongwe Kgomotso complained that there had been no consultation regarding the appointment of Nsala and Madikwe. “Lack of consultation by its nature, leads to chaos and we do not want chaos here,” he said.
A young man preferring anonymity opined that Bangwato have got no business meddling in the chieftainship of Bakalanga because he had never seen any Kalanga meddling in the chieftainship affairs of Bangwato.
In the end Mokhutshane advised Tutume residents to direct their grievances to the ‘right’ people. “My job here today was to officially introduce Nsala and Madikwe to you. I am not here for the Tshekedi and Nzwazwi issues,” said Mokhutswana who will be returning to the same kgotla on November 23rd to consult on the filling of the posts left vacant by Nsala and Madikwe when they were promoted to the main kgotla.