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Publishing Date : 20 August, 2019


Kgosi Linchwe I (1859-1924) ruled the Bakgatla baga Kgafela from 1876-1924. During his long reign he secured territory for his morafe in both Botswana and South Africa, while establishing himself through his military prowess and statesmanship as one of the region’s most important traditional leaders.

He was born in Mmasebudule, South Africa as the of Kgosi Kgamanyane and his senior wife Dikolo. In 1872 he settled with his father and others at Mochudi, where they had been given refuge by the Bakwena Kgosi Sechele I. From 1875 and 1882, Linchwe rebelled against Bakwena authority, ultimately winning control over most of Kgatleng, which the British demarcated as the Bakgatla Reserve in 1899.

During the 1899-1902 South African War, Linchwe’s regiments fought against the Boers beginning with an attack on Derdepoort. By 1902 they had captured many cattle, while exercising defacto control over a large area north of Rustenburg. Although the British refused after the war to recognises Bakgatla claims to the territory they had seized, Linchwe was subsequently able to use his war spoils to facilitate the purchase fourteen farms around Moruleng, where Bakgatla were settled and ruled by his brother, Ramono Pilane.

From 1889-96 Linchwe had joined hands with Dikgosi Bathoen, Sebele and others in opposing the territorial and economic claims of Rhodes’ British South Africa Company in southern Botswana. In 1908-10 he again worked with Bathoen and Sebele in opposing the incorporation of the Bechuanaland Protectorate into the Union of South Africa; while playing a supportive role in the 1912 formation of the ANC.

Linchwe was baptized into the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in 1892 after divorcing two of his three wives. He abolished a number of traditions at variance with Christian practice, subsidized the mission, and saw to the building of the DRC church in Mochudi in 1904. In 1917 he was predeceased by his senior son Kgafela resulting in his being succeeded by Isang Pilane, who in 1920 became the effective regent for Molefi II aKgafela, when Linchwe retired due to declining health.



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