Home » Columns » DR. S.M. MOLEMA


Publishing Date : 18 June, 2019


Silas Modiri Molema (1892-1965) in renowned for his contributions a medical doctor, author and political activist. He was born and spent most of his life in Mahikeng, where he belonged to a prominent family of royal kgosana among the Barolong booRatshidi.

His father had served as a secretary and senior advisor to Kgosi Montshiwa. S.M. Molema completed his secondary studies at Lovedale Institution. Following a period of teaching in Kimberly, in 1914 he moved to Scotland, where he was admitted for medical studies at Glasgow University. After graduating in 1919 he returned to Mahikeng, where his medical practice prospered serving a clientele drawn from all races.

Before his return Dr. Molema authored an internationally acclaimed book “The Bantu-Past and Present (published in 1920), an account of Black South African history and society. While rooted in the Batswana experience, Molema’s early scholarship was influenced by the writings of W.E.B. DuBois and the then emerging Pan African Movement. Together with his later biographies of Dikgosi Moroka and Montshiwa and shorter articles and pamphlets, the book established Dr. Malema as a pioneer of indigenous southern African historiography as well as a leading African spokesperson.

Molema became active in both South African and Protectorate politics. He joined the African National Congress, becoming it national secretary in 1949. Within Botswana he was a member of the Native (later African) Advisory Council (NAC), the Joint Advisory Council, and the African Council. During the 1920s he advocated the election of NAC representatives, a reform adopted by his own morafe.

He worked closely with local Dikgosi, in particular Tshekedi Khama, Bathoen II and Lotlamoreng, in opposing the British administrative reforms of the 1930s, while lobbying for the freedom from detention of the Kgosi Sebele II. During the 1950s he unsuccessfully attempted to mediate between pro-Tshekedi and Seretse Khama factions during the Bangwato crisis. Molema was also a leading advocate for the formation of the Legislative Council or LEGCO, though he failed to be elected to the body in 1961.



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