Self-sufficiency vision deep rooted
THE VISION of self-sufficiency goes back a long way for the Bafokeng nation. It began buying back the land from which it was displaced by Paul Kruger’s Transvaal Republic in 1866. From 1869, young Bafokeng men were sent by the King – Kgosi Mokgatle, who ruled between 1834 and 1891 – to work in the diamond mines in Kimberley to help finance the land-buying exercise.
The Lutheran Mission Society assisted by buying and holding the land in trust on behalf of the Bafokeng. By 1926, most of the land had been bought when the legendary Hans Merensky discovered significant platinum reserves on Bafokeng property.
Over the next seven decades various mining companies and governments tried to dispossess the Bafokeng of their land rights. The land was mined for the benefit of such companies and governments without any benefit to the kingdom.
The Bafokeng waged acrimonious legal wars with the successive apartheid governments – particularly former Bophuthatswana “homeland” leader Lucas Mangope – for the right to mining royalties. Victory was finally achieved in 1996 when the mining companies – particularly Impala Platinum – agreed to pay 22% of its pretax profits as royalties to the Bafokeng.
That royalty revenue has since been used for the economic upliftment of the nation, much of it going to infrastructure and education. Strong and selfless leadership by the royal family has ensured the entire nation benefits.
Particular influence comes from the Queen Mother, Semane Bonolo Molotlegi. She’s involved in community development activities in and around the Phokeng area, with a particular passion for education. In addition to all the Bafokeng schools, Mohumagadi (Queen) Semane has recently adopted another school in Rustenburg. She also runs soup kitchens and is involved with HIV/Aids initiatives in the Phokeng area. She was born in Botswana.
However, the royal family has been through tough and tragic times. Mohumagadi Semane’s husband and two sons died within six years of each other. Kgosi Edward Lebone Molotlegi I ruled between 1956 and 1995. His reign was interrupted by the “Bantustan” system in 1988, when he was hounded into exile to neighbouring Botswana, only to return in 1994. He died a year later.
During his exile years, Mangope installed Lebone Molotlegi’s brother, George Mokwaro Molotlegi (1936-1997) as Kgosi in 1988.
Mohumagadi Semane’s eldest son, Kgosi Mollwane Boikanyo Molotlegi, a graduate of Howard University in Washington, took over from his father and reigned between 1995 and 2000. He died in March 2000, aged 35. His death followed that of his younger brother, Prince Fosi Boemo Molotlegi (born 1966), exactly a year earlier.
Kgosi Mokgatle 1834-1891
Kgosi Molotlegi 1897-1938
Kgosi Manotshe Molotlegi 1938-1956
Kgosi Edward Patrick Lebone 1956-1995
Kgosi Mollwane Lebone Boikanyo Molotlegi Lebone 1995-2000