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Motshodi the Good

Publishing Date : 03 September, 2019


The legendary 17th century Bakwena Kgosi Motshodi, “Mmaseatlholo-batho”, is remembered as having combined strength with compassion. A kind hearted ruler who provided for the needy, his granaries were said to be always full, his hunts always bountiful. When cattle were captured those in the morafe who had little were favoured.

Motshodi kept his headquarters close to the banks of the Notwane River, residing first at Oodi then Moshweu and finally at Phutadikobo hill, which became his final resting place.  Even in his last years, when he was confined to his homestead, it is said that the Kwena still watched over his community. Pickets were posted at his borders to inform him any arrivals. Notable visitors would thus be greeted at the outskirts of his capital with food and presents.

While Motshodi expanded the Bakwena realm, he became renowned as a benevolent peacekeeper rather than warrior. In verse he was thus compared to a tree whose branches bound communities together:

“Whose gate is this? It is of Motshodi of Mokwena, he who is very thin, the agile warrior of good qualities. Ask herd boys, they will tell you that this is the gate of Motshodi of Mokwena, the strong thin man, whose subjects steadily multiply. He is the one who is like the morutlhatshana and mokgalo thorn trees. We are bound to one another by the hook of their thorns, their ugly hands holding us tightly together. Only the strength of his muscles can divide the bonds that hold us together.

“Where else did the blue crane [mogolodi] that brings good rains and the secretary bird [tlhame)] who is a provider ever live together in such harmony?  When we began to love one another as his subjects, the secretary bird caught a locust and gave it to the crane.” “You come to us through the big gate; you ask the herd boys whose gate is this? They will tell you that it is the one of the strong thin man, the path that leads to pregnancies, the morutlhatshana and mokgalo trees that hold each other by hook thorns, the strong muscle can pull them apart.”



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