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The fighting chief ramono pilane

Publishing Date : 27 August, 2019

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA


Kgosi Ramono “Mokometsa” Pilane (c1860-1917) was a younger brother of the Bakgatla baga Kgafela Kgosi Linchwe I; who is remembered as a pioneer educator and gifted military leader, as well as the Kgosi of the BagaKgafela community at Moruleng (Saulspoort) from 1902 to 1917.


An early convert to the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), he was the first member of his royal family to receive formal education, completing his studies at Morija in Lesotho between 1888 and1890. Thereafter, he served as a moruti and school teacher, despite occasional clashes with white DRC missionaries. Ramono’s reputation as a military commander was secured during the 1899-1902 South African War when he led BagaKgafela mephato against the Transvaal Boers, beginning on November 25, 1899 when his regiments forded the Madikwe River to launch a three-hour assault at dawn on an enemy commando laagered next to the small town of Derdepoort.


By the end of the war the BagaKgafela effectively controlled much of the territory between Sikwane and the hills north of Rustenburg; but the British refused to recognise their claims of right of re-conquest. In response, Kgosi Linchwe, used captured cattle and other spoils of war as well as tribal levies and royal income towards the purchase farms around Moruleng, where he installed Ramono as Kgosi. Ramono’s authority over the area was initially resisted by the Transvaal authorities, but was finally accepted in 1906. Ramono’s position at Moruleng was ultimately inherited by his long reigning (1949-2000) son Kgosi Tidimane Pilane.

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