As 70th anniversary celebrations begin

The village of Pilikwe will on the 17th of this month celebrate its 70th anniversary alongside with Kgosi Tshekedi Khama Commemoration Day, which is celebrated annually on the day.

The village was founded by the formidable Kgosi Tshekedi Khama, together with his 43 leading headmen, including some of his royal uncles. This happened after Kgosi Tshekedi fell out with his nephew and heir-apparent, Seretse Khama over his marriage to a white woman, Ruth Williams.

Pilikwe Chief, Gasebalwe Seretse told Botswana Guardian that this day is very important to their lives and culture. According to him, Pilikwe is one of the rich villages when it comes to the history of Gammangwato and its Bogosi.

He explained that after the fallout, which happened in June 1949, Tshekedi and hundreds of his followers left Serowe and settled in Ga Rametsana in Kweneng. After the reconciliation between Kgosi Tshekedi and Seretse, the former and his followers returned to Gammangwato and settled in the picturesque village of Pilikwe in 1952.

“Kgosi Tshekedi ascended the Bamangwato throne in 1926 and one author would sum up his career thus: Over the next three decades, Tshekedi would mature from this slight figure, who had recently won his battle to control a stammer, into a stocky combative man with remarkable energy for engaging in two particular battles, the fight against his many enemies- dynastic, South African and British and the campaign to build a modern state on the eastern fringes of the Kalahari Desert.

“Soon after his ascendance to the throne, his bitter enemies and nephews, the Ratshosa brothers tried to assassinate him at the Serowe Kgotla on the Easter of 1926 but this was foiled by his loyalists who also saw to it that the brothers were severely punished.

“Tshekedi also faced and quelled the Bakalanga-ba-ka-Nswazwi’s attempt to assert independence and Gasetshwarwe Sekgoma’s claim to the throne,” narrated Kgosi Seretse.

He pointed out that the activities of the day help to share such history with the youth in an effort to make them understand where they come from. He stated that while the aforementioned issues are some of the few that

threatened Tshekedi’s regency, none shook it like the marriage of Seretse to Ruth.

He explained that in September 1948, Seretse Khama, the niece of Tshekedi and the heir apparent to the Ngwato throne sent Tshekedi a letter that announced that he (Seretse) had married a British woman, Ruth Williams.

After a showdown at the Ngwato capital of Serowe in June 1949, he said Tshekedi and 43 Bangwato leaders signed a public declaration that they would be leaving the Ngwato territory to align themselves with the Bakwena.

“Tshekedi would later reconcile with Seretse, return to the Ngwato territory, and settled in the village of Pilikwe with his followers. There is no doubt that despite having had to quell several uprisings by his subjects and many crippling challenges, he had an illustrious career that saw him transforming the Ngwato kingdom into a modern and enviable state.

“He is credited as one of the few traditional dikgosi to build a school and to this day Moeng College stands. Together with Kgosi Bathoen II of the Bangwaketse, he successfully fought against the incorporation of the then Bechuanaland into either the Union of South Africa or Southern Rhodesia,” explained Kgosi Seretse.

Tshekedi is also remembered as a leading figure in the struggle for Namibia’s independence and was also vocal against the apartheid government of South Africa.

Kgosi Seretse indicated that it is therefore not surprising that many regard Tshekedi as a man ahead of his times. By the time he died on June 10, 1959, Tshekedi was one of the leading figures in southern Africa.

He, together with Seretse, had started working hard to bring about development not only in Gammagwato but Botswana as a whole. He had also started efforts to strive for the independence of Bechuanaland.

“As mentioned before, Tshekedi is one of the most discussed leaders in the country and there are at least six books based on his life and three of these were penned by locals.

“There is also a primary school in Serowe, Tshekedi Memorial that has been named after him. Some of his strongest supporters feel that he has not been honoured enough by Batswana,” he noted.