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Monday 01 September 2014 | 06:30 PM    
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Would opposition perform better in the coming elections had the Botswana Congress Party stayed as part of UDC?






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Yes
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No
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Kgosi Mmusi aKgafela aLinchwe aPilane (1914-2006)

by By Jeff Ramsay
15-06-2006

 

The late Kgosi Mmusi, who died this week, aged 92, played a leading role in the affairs of his morafe and country for over seven decades, an eventful career that bridged the era of Tshekedi Khama with that of Festus Mogae. As Motshwareledi-Kgosi (Regent/Acting Chief) of the Bakgatla bagaKgafela on four different occasions, Mmusi maintained a humble, moderate disposition despite at times finding himself at the centre of immoderate circumstances.

Born in Mochudi in 1914, Mmusi was the second son of the then Bakgatla Crown Prince, Kgafela aLinchwe I, and his redoubtable wife Seingwaeng.

Kgafela, died before he could succeed his own father, Kgosi Linchwe I, leaving Mmusi's elder brother Molefi next in line of succession.

Molefi was duly installed as kgosi in 1929, following a regency period under his uncle, Isang Pilane. Young and flamboyant by nature, Molefi's early reign was marred by conflict with both a faction of royal elders, led by Isang, and the British colonial administration of Resident Commissioner, Charles Rey.

In 1936 Rey, suspended Molefi from bogosi, resulting in Mmusi reluctantly accepting the responsibility of Acting Chief. In this capacity, he was confronted with a thankless task.
Molefi's removal, although initially supported by the followers of Isang, was deeply unpopular with most Bakgatla.

Young supporters of the deposed Kgosi formed a protest movement, Lekgotla la Ipelegeng, to agitate for his restoration, which the colonial regime quickly sought to suppress.

There were also stirrings of gender politics. Under Seingwaeng's influence, the female mephato refused to follow royal instructions, unless they were first sanctioned by Molefi.
Political dissension was accompanied by new sectarian and social tensions, which were reflected in the brief formation of the Bakgatla Free Church, as a breakaway from the Dutch Reformed Church. Some of the religious dissidents, including Seingwaeng, later re-established themselves as part of the Zion Christian Church.

The times themselves were hard. Drought, world economic depression, which resulted in a sharp drop in the demand for migrant labour, and a continuing ban on livestock exports, converged to make the lives of most Bakgatla precarious throughout the 1930s.

Pushed into this extraordinary fulcrum of discontent, Mmusi maintained his peoples' trust and ultimate unity through his humble dedication to public duty. Unlike his Bakwena peer Kgari, he resisted Rey's attempts to have himself promoted into anything more than a caretaker for his elder brother.

In 1942, with the world at war, it was agreed that Mmusi and Molefi would serve together as non-commissioned officers in the African Pioneer Corps, which enlisted just over 10,000 Batswana for the fight against Hitler and Mussolini. A "Council of Regency" was tasked to rule in their absence. The Bakgatla troops were subsequently praised for their courage and discipline in the Italian campaign.

After the war Molefi was allowed to resume Chieftainship, with Mmusi dutifully returning to a supporting role. But, with Molefi's sudden death in an auto accident, in 1958, Mmusi was again called upon to serve, this time as regent for his nephew, Molefi's son, Linchwe II.

From 1958 to 1963, Mmusi once more found himself presiding over challenging times. Modern nationalist politics was beginning to emerge in the then Protectorate. This was especially true in Mochudi, where Mmusi soon found his authority, along with that of his councillors, challenged by a reformist group initially known as "Mphetsebe".

At one point the Mphetsebe dissidents petitioned the colonial administration to have Mmusi replaced by Linchwe's sister Tshire.

From 1961 most of the agitators found a new outlet for political expression in the Bechuanaland People's Party (BPP) and, subsequently also, Bechuanaland Democratic Party (BDP).

In 1962, Mmusi intervened to prevent the BDP from holding its inaugural congress in Mochudi, resulting in the meeting's relocation. Years later, with typical humility, he apologized for the incident, saying his earlier suspicions about political parties had been misdirected.

From 1969-72, Mmusi assumed the duties of bogosi for a third time, as a result of Linchwe's appointment as Botswana's Ambassador to the United States. This interregnum passed by with little controversy.

Following Linchwe's return, Mmusi retired from his post as Deputy Chief. But, circumstances once more conspired to bring him back to bogosi.

In 1991, with Kgosi Linchwe II's appointment as President of the Customary Court of Appeal, the Bakgatla once more looked to Mmusi to act as Motshwareledi. He thus again served as Acting Chief until 1999, when he finally retired on grounds of advanced age and declining health. The regency was then turned over to its current incumbent Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe.

 

 

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