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Royal disputes freeze Bayei Chief coronation

Publishing Date : 07 January, 2019

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

The decision by government to stall Wayei chief coronation is as a result of egos and internal bickering by the tribe as to who should lead them to Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD), WeekendPost has established.

The government through Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has decided to recognize the Wayei as an independent ethnic group in 2016. For a long time Bayei have been taken as Batawana subjects something they vehemently challenged until government acceded to their demand-recognition. Ever since then, there have been delays relating to who will represent the tribe at Ntlo Ya Dikgosi. The tribe played the cards close to their chest blaming the government for the delay.


 However, fresh information depicts a tribe deeply divided and not willing to unite anytime soon to address the matter. At first it was agreed through the Wayeyi Chieftainship Council that Chief Fish Ozoo be their representative before the name of Pitoro Jacob Seedisa came out.
Moments later Lydia Ramahobo-Saleshando’s name also cropped out with some tribesmen arguing she is the right character to lead them and make deliberations at the NYD.


Bayei tribe has three royal families from which the chief has to be chosen. Those royal families include Bogosi Jwa ga Mathwara, Bogosi Jwa ga Hankuzi and Bogosi Jwa ga Xonkue. It is pointed out that a paramount chief of Bayei will always come from one of these families in case the position of the chief becomes vacant as the Chieftaincy in the Wayei tribe is not hereditary. Both Seedisa and Ozoo are reportedly from these families.


The Bayei chieftaincy was left vacant following the demise of Chief Shikati Calvin Kamanakao in 2003. Some tribe’s men who are now opposing any appointment for now suggest that any appointment should be on regency to hold the fort on behalf of the late Kamanakao’s son until he is old enough to take up the responsibility.


Kamanakao passed on before he could be legally recognized as Bayei chief although his tribe had installed him as paramount chief in April 1999, then Attorney General, Ian Kirby wrote the tribe in July of the same year telling them that they could not have a paramount chief as they were not legally recognised as a tribe. Before his demise, Kamanakao fought for the recognition of his people as an independent tribe.


Apart from the tribe disagreeing as to who should lead them, it is said the tribal council is adding petrol to the inferno. The past council headed by Gceba Ditando which has resigned but did not formally hand over to the new committee led by Jacob Samsosasin.  This, sources say makes it more difficult for the current committee to push the matter at government level so that the Wayei chieftainship could be closed once and for all.


“At least if there was hand-over it would be known as to how far they were especially in dealing with government because in terms of villagers selecting who to lead them, is not something difficult. We are a democratic dispensation and majority rule can always prevail,” a source who has been following the developments told this paper. The tribe has already proposed tribal boundaries which are rejected by other tribes with Bahambukushu leading the bandwagon.


 Bayei had allegedly proposed tribal boundaries from Tsau village to Ikoga gate. Another proposed boundary is said to be from Xurube to Gudigwa village in which Bahambukushu through Bungu WA Kathimana Association are opposing. The tribe is nonetheless expected to solve the issue this year. “It should be rested in 2019 because it would seem we are failing to manage ourselves.  It is not like government does not see this, that is when you will hear tomorrow that we are operating with a regent and not a fully-fledged Kgosi like other tribes,” added the seemingly concerned source.


There are about 37 other tribes which exist in Botswana, though the state does not recognize them. The total non-Tswana population is generally estimated at about 60 per cent. Experts say lack of recognition has also led to the inadequate provision of social services, such as education, in rural and minority dominated areas, 36 resulting in disproportionately high levels of poverty. In 1885, the then-Bechuanaland became a British protectorate and in 1933, the British authorities recognised eight tribes in the Chieftainship Act as follows: the Barolong, Bakwena, Bangwaketse, Balete, Bakgatla, Batlokwa, Bangwato and Batawana.

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