The early internal politics of the Barolong in the District of Mafikeng: a study of lntra-Batswana ethnicity and political culture from 1852 to 1920.
Ramoroka, Malose Daniel
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This study focuses on, among other issues, the early 'nationalist' organisation among the Barolong, that is, the Barolong National Council (BNC), formed by traditional leaders and clerics in the central Transvaal and northern and central Orange Free State in the early 1900s. Its geographic axises were centred in Kimberley, Mafikeng, Kroonstad and Johannesburg. Its role was both to combat divisive political practices among the Barolong (which alienated already established nationalist-minded leaders like Solomon Plaatje and Chief Montshiwa of the Ratshidi of Mafikeng) and to create a distinctive cultural and economic epi-centre for what they loosely defined as 'Barolong interest'. This study unravels these neglected ethnic dimensions of early Barolong politics. The study also seeks to explore the source and the nature of the conflict between two Barolong groups, the Ratshidi and the Rapulana. Firstly it highlights the break-up of the Barolong kingdom after the death of the Barolong king Tau in about 1670 and polarisation of the Barolong into different sections which developed ultimately into independent chiefdoms such as the Ratlou, Ratshidi, Seleka and Rapulana. Their relationship during the difaqane and their encounter with the Boers and British which marked the beginning of the conflict between the Ratshidi, Rapulana and Ratlou are examined. The contribution of the Boers and the British to the contestation over the land of the Barolong is outlined. The consequences of the engagement of the Rapulana and the Ratshidi in the now famous siege of Mafikeng is also explored, in the context of Rapulana-Ratshidi relations. The main focus of this research is the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries because it was a period of intensified disputes that were ultimately fought in court between the Ratshidi and Rapulana. This study also deals with the rise of missionary activities among the Barolong which led to the development of the elites who contributed to the ethnic conflict. However, the research reveals the activities of the elites in bolstering both the Ratshidi and the Ratlou chieftainships instead of undermining them.
- Humanities