Chapter Fourteen
The Tawana1

The Tawana, the ruling tribe of Ngamiland, owe their existence as a tribe to a quarrel between Kgama I and Tawana, sons of the Ngwato chief Mathiba (c. 1770--c. 1795). Mathiba, being suspicious of his heir, Kgama, favoured his younger son Tawana and relations between the two brothers became so strained that eventually Tawana, with quite a large following, moved away with a section of the tribe.2 They made for the Botletle River which they followed for a distance and then branched off to the Kgwebe Hills.

Tawana had taken with him his younger brother and Kgama set off in pursuit in order to bring the boy back. When Tawana heard that Kgama was following him he left the boy at Kedia, where he was found by Kgama and taken home, while Tawana pursued his way unmolested to the Kgwebe Hills. They found these hills occupied by Kgalagadi whom they drove out, and taking possession of the wells, established a village there. The date when Tawana arrived at the Kgwebe Hills was possibly about 1795.

The Tawana made their home at the Kgwebe Hills for a long time, though Lake Ngami, with its plentiful water, was only about twenty miles away. It has been suggested that they were afraid of rivers, being unused to them, and it is probable that they may have been prone to malaria. At Lake Ngami the Tawana found the Yei or Kuba under their chief Sankotse. It seems that at that time the Tawana treated the Yei as equals and did not bring them to subjection till later.

Tawana, who was about 30 years of age when he left the Ngwato, was killed by his son Moremi I about 1820. During part of his reign at least, his father Mathiba came to live with him, but on falling into disfavour returned to the Ngwato country where his elder son Kgama rejected him and told him to go back to Tawana. Tradition has it that Mathiba then committed suicide. During the latter part of Tawana's reign Kgari, successor to Kgama I as chief of the Ngwato, attacked the Tawana but was repulsed.

Calamity came upon the Tawana during the reign of Moremi. They were attacked at Kgwebe by Sebetwane and his Fokeng or Kololo, robbed of their stock and driven away.3

After scattering the Tawana, Sebetwane then passed on into

____________________
1
Sources: Nettelton, 'History of the Ngamiland Tribes'; Mafeking Registry file series 5124, file 7825/90.
2
See also p. 117.
3
Nettelton gives the date of Sebetwane's attack as 1825. Sebetwane started from the Western Transvaal in 1823 and did not move north from the Kwena country until 1826 (p. 185), while his victorious march through the country of the Ngwato may not have been until 1828. We cannot therefore date the invasion of Ngamiland earlier than 1828.

-144-

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