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She nswazwi viii

Publishing Date : 07 August, 2018

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA


John Madawu Nswazwi VIII (1868-1960) became the leader, She, of the BaKalanga-bakaNswazwi in 1912. His conflict with the Bangwato began later during the rule of Kgosi Tshekedi Khama, in part due to increased land competition, as well as tightening administrative control from Serowe


In 1926, Tshekedi fined Nswazwi for insubordination after his people had abandoned a communal labour project. In 1929 Nswazwi petitioned the British Administration, protesting Tshekedi’s imposition of a levy and failure to render him a percentage of the Hut Tax. When the British referred the matter back to Tshekedi, the latter had Nswazwi and five others confined to Serowe for two years.


The BakaNswazwi thereafter refused to acknowledge the authority of Tshekedi’s representative to Bukalanga, Rasebolai Kgamane. In 1931 another petition arrived in Mahikeng demanding Nswazwi’s return and full independence from the Gammangwato. After as inquiry in 1932 the British imposed a compromise: Nswazwi’s release for the dropping of demands for independence.


In 1943 tensions revived when Tshekedi had to Nswazwi once more confined for “insubordination.” After his release in 1945 Nswazwi returned to his village against the orders of Tshekedi and the British. BakaNswazwi then drove away the men ordered to remove him from the village, thus challenging the will of the government. The British and Tshekedi sent in a regiment and policemen, both heavily armed, and gained backup support from Southern Rhodesian troops and planes, which flew over the village.


Nswazwi and 122 others were taken to Serowe. For two years, the BakaNswazwi protested by refusing to pay their hut tax through the Bangwato collectors. They also employed lawyers to prepare an appeal to the Privy Council in London. The British gave Tshekedi permission to subdue the protest, resulting in 2,000 Bangwato under Oteng Mphoeng (with 79 police standing), moving on Nswazwi’s village in September 1947. This resulted in some 1,600 refugees fleeing into Southern Rhodesia. In 1948 Nswazwi was allowed to join his people in exile, where he remained until his death.

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