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The Raditladi secession (part 1)

Publishing Date : 21 January, 2020


The son of Bangwato Kgosi Sekgoma I by a junior house, during the 1890s Raditladi Sekgoma challenged both the temporal and ecclesiastical authority of his senior brother Kgosi Khama III, resulting in his follower’s secession from the morafe.


The conflict between the two royal brothers initially manifested itself within the Church. As an ordained London Missionary Society (LMS) deacon, Raditladi incurred Khama’s suspicion through his success proselytizing among the Batswapong. Along with other leading church members, notably including another brother, Mphoeng, he further alienated the Kgosi by supporting the missionary Rev. James Hepburn in his affirmation that the Bangwato church should be institutionally separate from bogosi.

Outside of the church Raditladi also distinguished himself as both a warrior and man of means. In 1890 he led a group of Bangwato scouts who assisted the Pioneer Column in its advance from Palapye to occupy Zimbabwe. When in 1893 Khama led 1,700 troops to further assist in the British in their conquest of the Amadebele, Raditladi was his deputy commander. The campaign’s success strengthened Bangwato claims over the territory between the Motloutse and Shashe rivers. 

By 1894, however, the division within the church had widened into a political split, with Raditladi now leading a rebel faction that openly criticized aspects of Khama’s rule, notably including his strict ban on local alcohol. Besides a considerable following inside Gammangwato, Raditladi had gained the support of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s (BP) Palapye based Deputy Commissioner, John Moffat, who was a former missionary.

In response to Raditladi’s agitation, the British convened a Commission headed by the BP’s Resident Commissioner Sydney “Morena Maaka” Shippard to bring about a settlement. In this respect Moffat played a key role in influencing the Commission’s June 27, 1895 decision to grant the whole Motloutse-Shashe area to Raditladi as an independent Kgosi.  For his part, by deciding to divide “Khama’s Country” Shippard was clearly advancing the interests Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (BSACO) in its mission to incorporate the BP.

On June 28, 1895 Khama dispatched a petition protesting what he perceived as the BSACO’s perceived aggression to the Colonial Secretary in London, Joseph Chamberlain. He also reached out to his fellow Dikgosi Bathoen and Sebele, proposing that they take their collective concerns about the Company and BP administration directly to the British Government and people (to be continued).



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