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Sidney “Morena Maaka” Shippard

Publishing Date : 05 November, 2019


Sidney Godolphin Alexander Shippard (1838-1902) gained local notoriety between 1885 and 1895 as the first head of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s British colonial administration, with the titles of Deputy Commissioner (1885-91) and Resident Commissioner (1891-95).

Based in Vryburg, during the same period he also served as the Administrator of the Crown Colony of British Bechuanaland. Having been a close friend of Cecil Rhodes from the time they attended Oxford together, Shippard’s record of service in both jurisdictions was noteworthy for his vigorous promotion of the interests of the British South Africa Company (BSACO). With the initial exception of the Bangwato Kgosi Khama III, Shippard was regarded with great suspicion if not hostility by most dikgosi in the region who dubbed him “Morena Maaka (“Lord of Lies”).

His 1886 land settlement robbed the Barolong and Batlhaping merafe living south of the Molopo River of 92% of their land. Thereafter, he orchestrated the incorporation of British Bechuanaland into the Cape Colony. In 1888 Shippard travelled to Bulawayo, where he played a central role in securing the Rudd Concession from the Amandebele ruler Lobengula. Thereafter, he ensured that the Protectorate served as a springboard for the BSACO occupation of Zimbabwe.

In February 1888 Morena Maaka convened a meeting between himself and most of the dikgosi at Kopong, where he hinted at that the Protectorate would be annexed “to the dominions of the Great Queen.” In response Dikgosi Bathoen I, Linchwe I, and Sebele I to declared their opposition to any expansion of British authority, although Kgosi Khama III was willing to cooperate. Thereafter, the Batawana, Bakwena, Bangwaketse and Bakgatla closed ranks as self-proclaimed “sovereigns of the soil” to legally challenge BSACO claims over their territories.

Shippard then appointed of the Concessions Commission to try enforce BSACO interests. Having established a military camp in Gaborone, he also repeatedly, but ultimately unsuccessfully, pushed for British military action against the southern Dikgosi. On leaving office in 1895, Shippard joined the BSACO’s board of directors.