“Why does the name Khama III straightaway ring a bell to practically every Motswana when that of Sechele, the earliest and most impactful defender of Tswana sovereignty at a time when both the Boers and Anglo-Saxons were intent at strong-arming us into their sphere of influence, rarely strikes a chord? Why does almost every youngster who has done history keep asserting that Khama III was instrumental in ‘protecting us from the Boers’ when it was Sechele who did that at a time when Khama III was a mere teenager?”
That sentiment comes from David Magang whose residential address, according to the 50th edition of Botswana Notes and Records, is “Manor House, Phakalane (Gaborone)” Better known as the founder of Phakalane Estates, Magang has served under two presidents (Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae) as a cabinet minister and was “the first Botswana native to open a private law practice in the nation.”
That the Khamas are Botswana’s most prominent political family is a direct result of who Khama III was ÔÇô a Tswana kgosi who was willing to accommodate the excessive demands of the British and was repaid with international fame. Khama III is the great-grandfather of former president, Ian Khama, whose own father, Sir Seretse Khama, was Botswana’s founding president. When that amount of political stardom is concentrated in a single family and when that family used to lord over the country’s largest tribal territory, the name Khama III will straightaway ring a bell to practically every Motswana.
The alternative scenario that Magang’s words imply would likely have put Kgosi Kgari Sechele of Bakwena in the position that General Khama presently enjoys. Kgari is a descendant of Sechele. Ironically, it was none other than Sechele himself who created the Khama political industrial complex. Having helped put Macheng on the Bangwato throne in 1857, he switched sides 15 years later and assisted Khama III stage a successful coup d’etat.
At a time that he was specially-elected councillor in the Kweneng District Council, one of Sechele’s descendants, Kabo Sebele, waged an ultimately unfruitful campaign to have the Thebephatshwa Airbase (“Mapharangwane”) west of Molepolole renamed Sechele I Airbase. Sechele has been honoured with the Kgosi Sechele I Museum in Molepolole, which is in the process of building of what will be a multi-million pula monument park in Ntsweng, which served as the Bakwena capital from 1864 until 1937. Born in 1810 to Motswasele II, Sechele I was David Livingstone’s first convert to Christianity and learnt how to read and write from the Scottish missionary. Under Sechele’s rule, from 1829 to 1892, Kweneng became a prosperous trading state.
Botswana Notes and Records is published by the Botswana Society, which is the country’s first learned society.