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Kgosi Malope rebuffs Mosielele’s leopard skin coronation

Publishing Date : 24 October, 2017


Paramount chief of Bangwaketse Kgosikgolo Malope Gaseitsiwe II has hinted that there may be repercussions for the un-cultural and un-procedural draping of his subject, Bahurutshe chief Curty Kebinatshwene Mosielele with a leopard skin.

Mosielele will be officially installed as a Kgosi draped with a leopard skin this weekend at Manyana. This follows his father Mark Mareko Mosielele’s death in 2015. The Bahurutshe tribe has against all odds forged ahead with draping Mosielele with a leopard skin - a move which has irked Bangwaketse who say it is improper. Bangwaketse contend that the arrangement is not be-fitting as Bahurutshe are subjects of the latter, stressing that Bangwaketse are more senior in the Ngwaketse territory which Bahurutshe people fall under.  

Manyana village falls under Ga-Ngwaketse territory and Kgosi Malope II has the authority and power to address a kgotla gathering at the village as the paramount chief overseeing the area. When speaking to Weekend Post this week Kgosi Malope said there will be far-reaching implications for Mosielele’s continued insubordination. “This is a big issue and of course there will be implications. Although I cannot say much on the implications for now but they will be there, and probably they won’t be immediate,” Malope pointed out to this publication in a hushed voice.   

According to the Bangwaketse Paramount Chief, the move by Mosielele is disrespectful to not only Bangwaketse but also to the customs and traditions of Bogosi in general in Botswana. He said: “it never happened anywhere but remember the bogosi institution is from far back.” Formerly a long time friend of Mosielele, Malope insisted his stand point on the matter “our position is that Mosielele, is not supposed to wear the leopard skin in his coronation, he even knows about it.”

Kgosi Malope also reminisced to justify his point that Mosielele knows the appropriate procedure of matters of bogosi, he sent his elders from Manyana to the Bangwaketse kgotla in Kanye earlier this year to “request” to be adorned with a leopard skin on his coronation, but he was turned down out rightly. Malope further told WeekendPost that “Setswana sa re kgosi e nngwe hela mo Gangwaketse. Mme ee ke nnete merafhe re bantsi gone mo ga Ngwaketse. Mme hela ko morago kgosi e nngwe hela mo ga Ngwaketse. Ke kalo,” (in accordance with Setswana culture, there is only one paramount chief in Ngwaketse territory.)

He gave an example of his counterparts at Batawana territory where the paramount chief remains Kgosikgolo Tawana Moremi II who was and remains the only one coronated with a leopard skin. In addition, he cited Bangwato under the chieftainship of Kgosikgolo Ian Khama whom was ordained with a lion skin during coronation. Another example was that of Bakgatla baga Kgafela, Kgosikgolo Kgafela Kgafela who was also draped in a leopard skin, just to mention a few. The Bangwaketse paramount chief emphasised that it is only the paramount chiefs in a territory that are entitled to be coronated with a lion or a leopard skin as traditions dictates from far.

“To wear a skin is like a crown you know even in England it is only the Queen to the throne who can wear a symbolic crown,” Malope justified. According to the Ngwaketse chief, even his father Seepapitso Gaseitsiwe IV wore the leopard skin and so is him, adding that Seepapitso even wore the skin while his grandfather Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II was still alive. He dismissed Mosielele and Bahurutshe’s suggestion that their previous chief Mareko Mark Mosielele ever wore a leopard skin as they claim. “They or he is not telling the truth,” he highlighted.

But he was however impressed that both his father Seepapitso and Mosielele’s father Mark worked together harmoniously while respecting territory lines and certain cultural practices that came with the institution of bogosi. However, when contacted for a comment after numerous times, Mosielele was not at liberty to be drawn into discussing the matter instead directing this reporter to attend the event today (Saturday) where he will be coronated wrapped in a leopard skin. Previously, he had told this publication that their cultural tradition dictates that a kgosi undergoes crowning through wearing of a leopard skin.

Mosielele also declared then that: “as Bahurutshe, we are in the zone of Bangwaketse. But we are not Bangwaketse. Our totem is a baboon (tshwene) but theirs is a crocodile (kwena). Our cultural customs and practices also differ.” Meanwhile, a dikgosi historical independent Professor at the University of Botswana (UB) who preferred anonymity, told Weekend Post then that the issue is a conflict particularly because Manyana village is part of Ga-Ngwaketse zone in terms of geographic setting.

Customary law dictates that within a geographical location there should be one Kgosi-Kgolo who can only undergo crowning by being wrapped with a leopard skin, the academic highlighted. A leopard skin or a lion symbolises “dominance” in terms of the geographical location. The move by Bahurutshe chief to go ahead with the coronation draped in a leopard skin while there is a paramount chief in the territory has brought a sharp contrast with regard to the constitution of Botswana particularly the contentious sections 77, 78 and 79.

Section 78, it states that “the ex-officio Members of the House of Chiefs shall be such persons as are for the time being performing the functions of the office of Chief in respect of the (so-called 8 major tribes) Bakgatla, Bakwena, Bamalete, Bamangwato, Bangwaketse, Barolong, Batawana and Batlokwa Tribes, respectively.”



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