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How Bangwato and Nswazwi of Botswana settled in Zimbabwe

07 Jul 2024 at 05:37hrs | Views
The Bangwato-Tswana people of Mangwe in Zimbabwe are descendants of the followers of Raditladi and Mphoeng who broke away from the main group, following a dispute with Bangwato Regent Khama III in the 1890s.

The dispute arose when Khama III declared Christianity as the official religion in all Bangwato land with himself as the head of the London Missionary church (UCCSA) in Ngwato territory. This meant he would head the Bangwato politically and spiritually.

His half-brothers, Raditladi and Mphoeng and their followers challenged this. The conflict culminated in the two brothers seceding and being granted land in Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company Territory.

Cecil John Rhodes granted them the land after they fought on his side against the Ndebele in the Anglo-Ndebele war of 1896 in which the Ndebele were led by Queen of the Ndebele, Lozikeyi Dlodlo. The area was named Mphoeng Reserve.

The two brothers moved to the new land with their followers. The area is close to Matsiloje village in present day Botswana. There was no border fence between Matsiloje and Mphoeng, the Bangwato easily intermingled with the rest of Batswana across the Ramokgwebana River.

Raditladi had a quarrel with his brother Mphoeng in 1913. He then left Mphoeng Reserve and went back but Mphoeng remained in Mangwe with his people. It is because of these communities that in 2013 SeTswana was made an official language in Zimbabwe.

Mphoeng's people occupy the land to this day. Mphoeng and his people took with them names of those wards that they left behind when they went into exile.

These include among others Mere, Mokgampo, Kweneng, Maboledi, Patse, Makhubu, Nkedile, Goo-Tshweu and Matshotha.

During the liberation war, a fence was erected dividing Botswana and Southern Rhodesia thus limiting the interaction the interaction of Batswana across borders. The Rhodesian government wrongly classified Bangwato as Sotho along with the Sotho-Pedi groups east of Mphoeng.

Another group that was exiled to Southern Rhodesia is the BaKalanga of She Madawo John Nswazwi who migrated in the late 1940s after a bitter conflict with Tshekedi Khama. The village for Nswazwi and his people was in Southern Rhodesia, called Jetjeni.

In 1959 after the death of Tshekedi Khama, Seretse Khama facilitated the return of the Nswazwi. Their leader did not make it as he died in 1960. In 2002 his remains were exhumed and sent to Botswana for reburial. In 2006, some members of the Nswazwi community returned home.

Source - The Sunday News
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