In between sparring with his uncle in Moruleng and a Mafikeng High Court as well as keeping his feet firmly planted on the right side of the Botswana-South Africa border, Bakgatla’s supreme traditional leader, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II, has also found time to write a book that has just been published in the United Kingdom. The 332-page book is placed eighth on AuthorHouse UK’s new releases list.
In written, as in spoken word, Kgafela retains his trademark flair for the dramatic, constructing an argument that establishes a link between political governance and “black magic” in a book that the publisher hopes will captivate “game hunters, adventurers, horse lovers, lawyers, politicians, philosophers, traditionalists, occultists, shamans, religious people, and the royals of the world.”
A little over a decade ago, the Botswana government turned down a request by one of Kgafela’s ilk, Maun West MP, Tawana Moremi who at the time was a member of what was then called the House of Chiefs, that dikgosi be officially called “kings” when referred to in English. The explanation from then Assistant Minister of Local Government, Gladys Kokorwe, was that that couldn’t happen because Botswana is a republic and not a kingdom. Conversely, AuthorHouse has no problem conferring such title on Kgafela, giving the book the title “The King’s Journal: From the Horse’s Mouth”.
This is how the publishing company touts the book: “The King’s Journal is a unique expos├® of African tradition written by an African king who has life experiences in both worlds of tradition on one hand and foreign law in the other. The journal is outstanding in its ability to explore the shadowy side of law, tradition, and politics that has brought about a clash of cultures in Africa. The conflict of cultures highlighted is responsible for the present-day poverty and other forms of strife in postcolonial Africa. The journal offers deeper understanding of these salient dynamics of history and politics within black society in Southern Africa and traditional ceremonies, with special focus on the rituals of the royal leopard, the coronation of a king, magic and initiation schoolsÔÇöall presented from the horse’s mouth of an African king living the experiences.”
By self-description, AuthorHouse is “the leading provider of supported self-publishing services for authors around the globe, with over 60,000 titles released.” To realise his publishing dreams, Kgafela would have paid P3.10 per word to have the manuscript copy-edited. However, the editing could use a bit more work and Kgafela would be well within his rights to demand a refund: “He said some of the witnesses they puffed on their cigarettes as they waited.” and “He chatted with the witnesses and described the art of his ropes as if they were something so dear.”
The soft cover currently costs P197 (┬ú12.95) while the hard cover is P365 (┬ú23.99). The book’s cover features a picture of Kgafela taken on the day of his installation. Face expressionless, he is sitting on a Setswana folding chair, wearing a royal leopard-skin wrap. In his right hand, he clutches a wooden-shaft spear with its head pointed skywards and in his left, an intricately designed white horse-hair flywhisk. Currently living in South Africa, where he is also traditional leader of another Bakgatla clan in the Northwest province, Kgafela is a fugitive from the law, wanted in Botswana for unlawful flogging of some of his subjects.
In reinventing himself, Kgafela is erasing some vital details of his Botswana identity: “The author is a royal King in South Africa, born in the USA Washington DC. He rules over one of the wealthiest in minerals and most controversial tribes in Southern Africa called Bakgatla ba Kgafela.” His father, the late Kgosi Linchwe, was Botswana Ambassador to the United States at the time of his birth. The book is not yet available locally.