a Ngwato historical boomerang
It seems philosopher and writer George Santayana had Bangwato in mind when he wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The Ngwato royals and morafe are currently in political turmoil and dilemma between following Kgosi kgolo Ian Khama who has formed a new political party Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) or remain with his younger brother Tshekedi Khama at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
In another corner is Ramadeluka and Foster Seretse, the grandsons to Serogola Seretse one of the main actors in the conflict that befell Bangwato 70 years ago. Serogola Seretse was the father to Lenyeletse Seretse, the first cousin to Seretse Khama who later became the country’s vice president albeit for a short period before he died.
Last week proved to be a tough one for Bangwato as they had to choose between their paramount chief Khama and his younger brother TK. Khama is trying to persuade Bangwato to put pressure on TK to resign from BDP and join his new party BPF but the outspoken Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development is staying put.
Should Tshekedi ramin within the BDP and not join his brother at BPF it will create a division among Bangwato which they experienced in 1948 though different circumstances when Sir Seretse Khama differed with his paternal uncle Tshekedi Khama leading to the morafe being divided between the two. The morafe especially in Serowe West will have to choose between the Khama brothers and this was shown by the BPF rally on Tuesday.
While some supported Khama that TK must defect to BPF, others maintained that he should stay put at BDP and they will rally behind him. Since he formed BPF and became its patron, former President Khama has maintained that his younger brother who is BDP parliamentary candidate for Serowe West will soon jump ship and join the new party. He insisted that TK respects him as his elder brother and paramount chief and will listen to him rather than any other person thus will defect to BPF.
Recently during a BDP press briefing, TK insisted that he is a BDP member in good standing and refused to be drawn into the statement by his former brother.
Addressing a political rally in Serowe West on Tuesday Khama’s tone changed. He blamed the BDP for trying to wage a war between him and his younger brother who is also his close friend. TK was allegedly supposed to attend the meeting in which he was going to state his position but chose to attend a kgotla meeting in Mochudi addressed by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The Tuesday political rally by Khama where he persuaded the Serowe West constituents to convince TK to dump BDP was similar to the July 29th 1949 Makaleng meeting which decided the fate of the future of the GaMmangwato chieftainship. Tshekedi wanted his nephew Seretse Khama to denounce his marriage to Ruth if he wanted to assume the chieftainship of GammaNgwato.
During the meeting held 70 years ago Tshekedi was against the marriage of Seretse to Ruth Khama saying tradition was not followed and this divided the Ngwato royals. Interestingly on the side of the late Seretse Khama was Serogola Seretse, the grandfather to Ndelu Seretse and Foster Seretse. Serogola warned that Tshekedi wanted to usurp the chieftainship from Seretse using his marriage to a white woman as an excuse.
When the formation of BPF was mooted the two grandsons to Serogola were in full support of Khama with Ramadeluka even saying they left early to prepare for others who will defect from the ruling party. The two families now find themselves at crossroads that threatens the political stability of Ngwato royals as they are in different camps again.
Recently in a political rally in Tshimoyapula, Ndelu told his followers that they must desist from addressing Khama as kgosikgolo during rallies but rather as mere Mister Khama. “In politics there is nothing like kgosikgolo we are all equal,” he said contrary to what he said when BPF was formed that Khama is a kgosikgolo whether in politics or otherwise.
Ndelu’s younger brother Foster Seretse who was one of Khama’s political lieutenant has also dumped him and said that he doesn’t want to be used for political gains. The young Seretse though said he has not chosen his political home. Allegations are that he wants to retrace his steps back to the BDP and help to campaign for TK. It is a matter of time before one of them declares that dismissed the unity within the family and like the old TK tells everyone to disperse. According to historian Neil Parsons in his book Seretse Khama 1921-1980 when others tried to speak after the last kgotla meeting, ‘Tshekedi, choked with emotion, dismissed the assembly with one word: Phatalala (‘disperse’).’