Friday, September 18, 2020

Madibela-Nkwe, Bakgatla regiment graduates in style

It was a day to remember for many Bakgatla and other spectators who came in multitudes to witness the graduation of Kgosi Kgfela’s first male regiment graduates at the Bakgatla main Kgotla on Thursday 8th.
 
The Kgotla was filled to capacity as many people from all corners of Botswana and even across the borders attended the ceremony, with some arriving as early as 3 am just to secure seats. Despite the spectators arriving early and seating patiently and in orderly fashion, the to-be graduates took their time as they arrived around 11 a.m.

Before their arrival the recently graduated female regiment named Madisa-Kgosi kept the crowd entertained by offering some of their songs. 
 
The whole Kgotla was an appetizing offering for an eye as the females sat quietly in the open sun; all uniformed in blue head scurf’s and dresses. But the memorable scene was when the graduates arrived crawling in a procession towards the Kgotla centre.

Many wore antelope skins and carried ostrich feathers on sticks. The crowd gave the Paramount Chief a standing ovation as he led the graduates with his two brothers, Mmusi and Bakgatla, and a cousin mounting horses.
The regiment-teachers marched about the possession carrying guns decorated with Ostrich feathers, with many wearing different animal skins.
 
During their arrival two gun rounds were fired and about three men fell, imitating dead lions, the crowd then cheered in amazement. Some poets kept the crowd laughing cheerfully as they graced their chief while others advised him in poetic terms.
 
Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe, the acting Chief of Bakgatla, welcomed guests and thanked everyone who had a hand in making the event a success. He then called on the Bakgatla paramount chief Kgosi Kgafela to address his tribe.
 
Kgafela made the attendants aware of the greatness of Setswana culture if treated with love and respect, saying it makes life easy. He then emphasized the importance of respect for parents and elders as a way for today’s generation to live longer days and lead prosperous lives.
 
“Westernization has made us lose our way, it separates a mother, father and their child but worst of all it separates a chief from its people,” he said.
 
Kgafela then named the graduates Madibela-Nkwe, saying they are responsible for protecting the chief who, like a lion with wings, will take the Bakgatla tribe from the filth they are currently in to higher destinies.
 
He told them that their duties are not simple, adding that they will be responsible for working in the already registered Bakgatla Royal companies to make the tribe self reliable.
 
He then told them that there are two things that make a real man, being respect and love.

“Nothing else matters if these two aspects are within us,” he said.
 
The Bakgatla chief thanked Deborah Retief Memorial Hospital for aiding in circumcising 1281 graduates in a period of ten days, saying “the process went well though there were some slight problems here and there”. He also thanked the De Vert family for helping with wild animals for food. “I would like to thank the Kgatleng Council and everybody else who could have impeded this process from going well but gave us the respect of not doing so, Sir and Madam, I thank you wherever you are.”
 
“There are others who ran away and that is a great offence, but they have a relevant punishment and you Madibela-Nkwe are responsible for that,” he said, referring to those who ran away before the initiation ended. There were close to three thousand candidates who registered for Bogwera, but by graduation day there were only 1571, of which 890 are Madibela-Nkwe while the rest will join their previous regiments.
 
Kgosi Nyalala Pilane, of the Bakgatla in Moruleng then presented the Bakgatla history book entitled: History of Bakgatla Ba Kgafela in Botswana and South Africa. The book was written by University of Botswana History lecturer, Christian Makgare, Kgosi Nnyalala Pilane and Kgosi Segale at the request of the late Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgosi Linchwe Kgafela II.
 
One wonders what the boys are taught at Bogwera as none of them wanted to be interviewed, saying they have been commanded not to talk to the media. But word circulating from some of the graduates is that over hundred animals were killed despite the government denying Bakgatla a request to hunt.
 
After the ceremony, Kgosi Kgafela’s mother presented a 138-year-old drum to Kgafela’s wife, which is used by females during initiation, advising her to take care of it and never exchange it with anyone. The graduates then sang and danced joyfully with their chief and other tribal elders and Kgafela summed it all by urging the graduates to go home to dine and drink, saying “jaanong re ya go ja re nwa ijwalwa.”
 
The next female regiment will leave next year during May while the males leave by June 2011.

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