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Baboni Morwe

Publishing Date : 18 February, 2020

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA



Baboni Morwe was the second born daughter of Kgosi Khama III. After the death of her elder sister Bessie Ratshosa in 1902, she assumed the role of senior matriarch among the Bangwato royals. Following the death of her brother Kgosi Sekgoma II in November of 1925 the by then widowed Baboni along with her sisters Mmakhama and Milly and niece Oratile Ratshosa (elder sister of Seretse Khama) came into open conflict with the regency of her younger half brother Kgosi Tshekedi Khama.


In July 21, 1926 the four women went over the head of both Tshekedi and the Resident Commissioner of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Lt. Col. Rowland Daniel, to petition the High Commissioner and Governor General of South Africa, the Earl of Athlone. Among other things, the document asserted that:


“Once sacred places of Khama have been turned by traitors, into a witchcraft den. Christianity has been trodden underfoot, Chaka’s military system of destruction, long abolished, is the system they applaud. Such inhumane and tyrannical practices we have never known before.


“It is a big mistake for our Administration to think that we are claiming the chieftainship or regency; which we could do without fear. Had we that intention, surely we have a rightful claim, but we never had such a wish although we see some of our neighbouring tribes have chieftainess, we claim nothing but that we as daughters with right to our natural position and with right to our private affairs. It will surprise Your Excellency that even when my uncle and our brother was installed [i.e. Tshekedi], they never discussed the question to us merely to provoke us and bring us into unnecessary dispute…


“Khama’s law was equal to both sexes, woman had the same right as men. Estates were always proportionally divided to the deceased family, sons and daughters. But in our case, they wish it to be different, and in this letter, we appeal to Your Excellency that we claim reasonable shares as laid by Khama in the past, and we ask Your Excellency to give consideration to our prayer.”


Fearing that the women posed "a threat to peace" in September 1926 the British banished Baboni and Mmakhama from Gammangwato. They found refuge in Kanye where they were given sanctuary by the Bangwaketse regent Mohumagadi Ntebogang Ratshosa.

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