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The Second Sechele

Publishing Date : 12 March, 2019

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA


Kgosi Kealeboga Sechele II a Sebele (c.1860-1918) ruled the Bakwena from 1911 to 1918. While troubled by political conflict, his reign left a legacy in Kweneng that included greater indigenous control over local commerce, improved education and health services, the establishment of the Anglican Church and the revival of male initiation (bogwera).

Shortly after assuming the throne Sechele II set the tone for his reign in a manifesto that he delivered during a visit by the Acting Resident Commissioner, in which outlined his roadmap for both his Bakwena subjects and British colonial overseers. He began by confirming his intent to uphold the educational levy that had been introduced by his late father “so that all Bakwena, Bakgalagadi and Masarwa could attend school free of charge”. He then went on to call for the establishment of an Agricultural College to train in dry land farming, as well as other “progressive institutions to promote civilization”, observing that:


“There are many young men who ought to be taught all these works so that they might become useful to their fellow countrymen. There are many boys always going out to the gold and diamond mines [in South Africa] instead of which some of them should be taught at home”. Sechele II further denounced the practice of local traders holding secret meetings in order to fix prices, affirming that “now we shall fix the prices according to my judgement”.


He also condemned the practice of the white traders who, with the stated exception of Max “Raphalane” Hirschfeldt, paid Bakwena for their goods and services with “Goodfors” [store credit] instead of cash He further insisted that the then burgeoning trade in Kgalagadi game products would be locally licensed to ensure its indigenous benefit.


Raising a point that attracted newspaper headlines in South Africa, the second Sechele further affirmed: “If a white man wishes to take a native woman, let him marry her legally, according to the white man’s law by preference” or otherwise be subject to customary law.

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