Chapter Fifteen
The Kgatla1

THE name Kgatla is borne by several different groups of Sotho origin inhabiting the central and western districts of the Transvaal and south-eastern part of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. According to their traditions, all these groups were once united under a single chief. Some say that this parent tribe was founded by, or named after, Mokgatla, a son or later descendant of that Malope who was progenitor of the chiefly line of the Kwena, but the Kgatla themselves say that they are an offshoot of the Hurutshe from whom they seceded, for some unrecorded reason, under a leader named Malekeleke. It is to be noted that the totem of the Kgatla is the ape, while that of the Hurutshe is the baboon.

Botlolo, Malekeleke's descendant in the fourth generation, had two sons, Mogale and Tabane. Tabane seceded with a large following which subsequently became the modern Mmakau and Motšha sections of the Kgatla, who now live in the Hamanskraal and Pretoria districts of the Transvaal respectively. Mogale stayed behind in the present Rustenburg district of the Transvaal, but under him, or under his immediate successors, his people later moved to what is now 'Makapan's Location' in the Pretoria district. Mogale's son Matshego had by his first wife a daughter named Mosetlha, and by his second a son Kgafela. The tribe divided on the question of succession, some saying that Mosetlha, being of the first wife, should succeed, while others refused to accept a woman as chief and supported Kgafela. Kgafela and his adherents separated from the others and became an independent tribe called the Kgatla of Kgafela.2 These are the people who now live in the Bechuanaland Protectorate with their capital at Mochudi. They will henceforth be referred to simply as Kgatla, except when more precise identification is necessary. Those who remained behind became known, after their chieftainess, as the Kgatla of Mosetlha. They now live in the Hamanskraal district of the Transvaal.

This separation took place either in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.

It is said that the Kgafela group settled first at Tsekane, east of the Crocodile River, where they were ruled by Kgafela and then by his son Tebele. But the place was unhealthy and so they moved to

____________________
1
Source: Schapera, 'A Short History of the Bakgatla'.
2
There are other versions of the various splits in the parent tribe.

-149-

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