Located on the borderline of Limpopo and Mpumalanga Province, the village of Seabe which forms part of the former Bophuthatswana region. It is approximately 24 km2 in size, very small yes but rich in history. The Village Mag was fortunate enough to be granted audience with current Chief of Bakgatla Ba Seabe Tribal Authority Kgosi Edward Phopholo Chaane. We discussed a range of issues with Chief Chaane including some of the internal politics the Royal Family faced and overcame. An audio link to the interview is attached at the bottom of this article for your convenience.
The village was founded in the 1880’s, it was named after Chief Seabe Chaane who was one of members of Chaane Royal Family in the former Northern Transvaal (Limpopo Province). Bakgatla Ba Seabe originates from a village called Ga-Seopela, Makhuduthamaga within the Sekhukhune District in Limpopo Province. Upon arrival, the village Seabe was called De Putten which was a farming region of the then Bophuthatswana.
The first Royal House known in Batswana communities as Moshate was located in Mohwete section on the South East Part of the Village, Moshate has since been relocated to Moshate Section. The Royal House is adjacent to a field, this is where the annual Military Troops event known as Diturupa takes place whereby citizens within the village and beyond come together in celebration with dance to commemorate black South African men who joined the army to fight in the World War 1. This is an annual calendar event which takes plays on the 01st of January, unfortunately this year due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) the event did not take place. The event (Diturupa) turned 100 years event in 2018.
The great grandfather of Chief Phopholo was Kgosi Madiboane Chaane who unfortunately passed away in Ga-Seopela village, his remains were exhumed and taken to Seabe in the year 2018. His wife who was the Candle Wife acted as a Chief until the rightful heir to the throne came of age to carry on the duties of leading the community. The term Candle Wife means she was married from another Royal Family in Limpopo because Bakgatla Ba Seabe marry Candle Wives from various Royal Houses in that province. Candle Wives are married by the community to “bring light to the community” by giving birth to the next Chief, the incumbent Chief has no say on the matter as this is a practice passed from one generation to the next, even the government of South Africa recognizes this practice.
Every household has its own history and the Royal Family of Chaane of Bakgatla Ba Seabe has its own history and family tree. It started with the late Kgosi Madiboane Chaane who had more than three wives, together with his Candle Wife who was affectionately known as Mmadikoloi, were blessed with children, the first being Kgosi Phopholo Chaane had three wives, he is the grandfather of the current Chief, funny enough the incumbent was named after his grandfather. From his candle family he was blessed with the late Chief Tabane Chaane who is the father of the current chief.
To become a Chief in any community, there are certain qualities and characteristics that one should be able to acquire and display leadership skills. When a Chief passes on and upon deliberations by the Royal Family and the Royal Council, if heir to the throne at the time is deemed unfit to lead an acting Chief is appointed in this regard to lead for a certain period while heir is trained to lead. Since the passing of Kgosi Phopholo Chaane, Bakgatla Ba Seabe Tribal Authority was ruled by his sons Tlhame and Madiboane respectfully both from his other houses, both unfortunately because of their age ruled for a short period. Chief Tabane Chaane ruled from 1964 – 1984, Botlholo Chaane acted from 1985 – 1995 until the current Chief was coming of the right age. John Mpaishe Chaane acted from 1995 – 2000.
The former (illegitimate) Chief Stephens Makwe Chaane ruled from the year 2000 – 2020, the latter has since been dethroned after a decade long investigation through the Nhlapho Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims which worked predominantly on disputes associated with Paramount Leaders (Kings and Queens). The commission start work from 2005 to 2010, in 2010 the Mpumalanga Government then appointed its own commission headed by Advocate Tolo & Advocate Mahlangu to look into the traditional leadership disputes. Its terms of reference included looking into the disputes within the Bakgatla ba Seabe Chieftaincy. The report of this commission was released in 2015, it was through this commission that Chief Stephens Chaane was dethroned and a new leader, Chief Edward Phopholo Chaane was appointed as the rightful and legitimate heir to the throne of Bakgatla Ba Seabe. Kgosi EP Chaane thanked and spoke highly of his late uncle Stephen Seeje Chaane, Mr. Mmutle and members of the family who fought tooth since 1995 and nails to ensure the throne goes back to the rightful heir.
Seabe originally has five main founding regions known as makgoro/dikgoro and they are 1. Moshate, 2. Rankgutha, 3. Malatana, 4. Pitswane and 5. Ditlhaka, all these regions have their herd men. There are four sub-regions – which are called Dioketsa Sebesho in Setswana – also forming part of Seabe namely; Tresteng, Terateng, Lepaku and Machecheleng. Chief Phopholo Chaane wishes to see Seabe developing in many aspects, infrastructure and socio-economically. He came into power less than a year ago, he has programs he wants to execute to advance this vision, and part of his vision involves wishing to see a cluster cemetery being opened up to free up space earmarked for development in the village. Another is an FET College being opened in the region which will help produce more skilled entrepreneurs. With Ramoshidi Technical High School being the only Technical High School in the region offering technical studies, Chief Phopholo wishes to see this school being capacitated and skills pool being widened.
The names of schools in Seabe were named after previous Chiefs of Bakgatla ba Seabe although Ramoshidi was named after a member from another family during the rule of the former Chief Stephens Chaane.
A lot was discussed with Kgosi Edward Phopholo Chaane, and from our interview with him it is evident that we will have another conversation in the future. We wish him and his council all the best in this endeavor of leading this peaceful community of Seabe.
Below are some of the pictures from the traditional event called Sefoka:
Please click here to listen to this interview and learn more about this village.