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Kgosi Sebego

Publishing Date : 14 May, 2019

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA


Kgosi Sebego served as regent of the Bangwaketse from 1825-44, during which time he proved himself to be an effective military leader. He assumed the throne in a time of crisis, after his father Makaba II had been killed in battle against Sebetwane’s Makololo.



The Makololo, who by then had already scattered the Bakwena and Bahurutshe, continued to threaten the Bangwaketse. But, in August 1826, Sebego mobilised an army of over 4000 to launch a successful dawn assault on Sebetwane’s stronghold of Dithubaruba, which resulted in the Makololo being expelled from southern Botswana. Thereafter, Sebego waged further war against Mzilikazi’s Amandebele. In 1833 he drew a large enemy force sent to punish him deep into the central Kgalagadi before decisively defeating them at Dutlwe.


With eastern Botswana, nonetheless, still unsafe from Mzilikazi’s incursions, Sebego migrated with most of his men and cattle into western Botswana, in the process driving the Ovaherero out of Ghanzi, while ruthlessly subjugating local Bakgalagadi communities, who he ruled over for a period from Lehututu. In the aftermath of his victories Sebego attempted to usurp the throne by poisoning his nephew Gaseitsiwe, the son of his by then deceased senior brother Tshosa aMakaba II. But Gaseitsiwe escaped with his mother, gaining refuge among the Barolong. There he was subsequently joined by other Bangwaketse, thus dividing the morafe.


In 1839 Sebego sought to reconcile with his Bangwaketse rivals, now led by his brother Segotshane (acting for Gaseitsiwe), as well as other merafe, but was rebuffed. When he returned to eastern Botswana in 1842, he was attacked and suffered losses at the hands of Segotshane faction, who were joined by Barolong, Batlhaping and subsequently Bakwena.


Despite these reverses Sebego was nonetheless still considered by David Livingstone to be the most powerful ruler in the region in 1843 when the missionary visited him. Sebego and Livingstone together hoped to establish an LMS mission in Botswana. But, Sebego died in November 1844 as a result of an apparent hunting accident near Kudumane, while on route to visit the Griqua leader Klaas Waterboer. He was survived by his son Senthufe, who continued to lead a separate Bangwaketse faction until 1857. Illustration of Makololo warrior, whose weapons and attire would have also been similar to those of Bangwaketse of the era.

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