In our August 08th, 2020 issue we gave you our loyal reader a synopsis of the History of Marapyane as per the 1905 document titled SHORT HISTORY OF THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL. This was document was published by the then Department of Native Affairs in the Transvaal government. This week we sat down with the current reigning Chief of Marapyane Kgosi Tlhame Jeoffrey Moepi.
The name Marapyane is a Setswana name, it directly translates to bones. It was derived from bones found along the banks of a well-known well called Mokebe located on the border of Mocha and Rasebidi sections on the north-eastern part of the village. The village was founded in the 1800’s.
To understand the history of Marapyane we need to understand the list of previous Chiefs who ruled over this land and according to Kgosi Moepi, the first Bakgatla people to arrive in the village were led by the late Kgosi Tabane who had two sons Diale and Matlaisane. The late Chief Robert Mokgoko Sibis Moepi who was the father of Chief Patrick Mankolane Moepi was a direct descendant of Matlaisane; furthermore, the grandfather to the current Chief Tlhame Moepi.
Asked about the link between Moepi and Maubane royal families, the Chief told us that in the old days there were no surnames, the surnames Moepi, Ratlhagane and Maubane were actually names. As time went by the names were then changed to surnames. They are all descendants of Kgosi Tabane.
Chief TJ Moepi was born in the year 1949, he was preceeded by Kgosi Isak Moepi, Boorotlolo Moepi and most recently MmaKgosi Lekgoloane Regina Moepi. He assumed power on the 15 August 1997, his official inauguration was on the 10th of September 1998. In the beginning Marapyane had five (5) founding sections namely; Mocha where the Traditional Council is situated, Kau, Ditshwana (now known as Ditshwaneng), Matseke and Legodi. There are 13 outposts of Marapyane which are effectively villages under its jurisdiction; this includes but not limited to Lefiso, Senotlelo, Kabete and Sehoko. All these villages have head men, who represents the traditional council and ultimately the Chief, they get their mandate from the Council and are expected to operate and work within the ambits of this mandate.
Head men whom effectively form part of the Chief’s cabinet – thus that of the Traditional Council; are nominated and elected by the section (Kgoro) which they live in, they are not selected by the Chief. That is the criteria used to elect a head man in any village. To date Kgosi TJ Moepi is the only Chief in history who upon assuming power kept the cabinet from the previous administration led by the late MmaKgosi Lekgoloane Regina Moepi, before him everyone who ruled, did so with a new cabinet. The Chief made it categorically clear that head men are not born, they are nominated and elected and that only the Chief is born, something he says he has seen confusing the masses. Most of the schools in Marapyane are named after members of the royal family, e.g. Selallo Moepi Pre-School, Moepi High, Lekgoloane Secondary, Mmasekaseka Combined etc.
Traditional leadership forms an integral part of the South African government; in Parliament we have what is called House of Traditional Leadership. Asked what is the role of traditional leaders in advancing social and economic transformation in the communities they serve, Chief TJ Moepi said “the role is to advice the government in terms of the needs in their communities Moreover, committees in parliament and provincial legislatures are key in ensuring that proper due diligence is conducted when resolving disputes nominating Chiefs/Kings/Queens etc.”
The Chief is worried about the ailing farming and agriculture industry in Marapyane, he is more worried by the lack of community participation by the youth in this sector. He is however hopeful that things will change and that the culture of farming will return as this is key in boosting the economy of this village. There was a coal mine named Gold Steyn, situated in Itsoseng section, it was owned by some Indian company, the mine was decommissioned prior to his ascension to power in 1997. According to his recollection, the current mining rights to Gold Steyn is owned by Delta.
We were fortunate to interview Kgosi TJ Moepi to try and understand his view and challenges he has faced to date, we asked how he would like to be remembered, he said he would like his legacy to include a mall and well-developed village in terms of infrastructure. Furthermore, he would like to see livestock theft and crime in general being reduced if not extinct. He wishes communities would also start to attend weekly meetings in their sections/villages, this will assist Bakgatla ba Mocha Traditional Council in providing much needed services in a timely manner.
The Village Mag is grateful to Ntate Modise Ntlailane who is the current head man of Ditlhagane who organized this interview, most importantly we thank Kgosi Tlhame Moepi for lending us his ear, we say Kgabo!
To hear more on this interview, click on the link below: