July2020

Village Profile

As we continue profiling villages, trying to understand how life as we know it today, started. We visited the village of Lefiswane, specifically Ditlhagane section; this is where we caught up with Ntate Modise Ntlailane who is the current head man in charge of Ditlhagane, Robosize, Radijoko, Lenyeketsane and Mmotong. He was not alone; he was with one of the oldest community members Ntate Mphela Frank Rammopo was born in 1919 in Marapyane.


MOTHIBI SETLHANKA
mothibis@thevillagemag.co.za

07 July 2020

DITLHAGANE: ITS ORIGINS AND DESCENDANTS

In our previous issue (June 2020) issue, we profiled Lefiso; it was established that the land including Lefisoane is under the jurisdiction of Marapyane after it bought from a farmer in 1914. The name Ditlhagane is a Setswana name with a direct English translation as Nature. It is wise to note that Ditlhagane is not part of Lefiswane as many may think, at the Bakgatla Tribal Council Authority housed in Marapyane, the villages namely Lefiso, Lefisoane, Ga-Maria and Ditlhagane all occupy equal seats. They all have headmen who are appointed and report to Chief Moepi

Ditlhagane was founded when famers realized that livestock; mainly cows’ inability to graze the grass all around the trees within the village, the predominant trees at the time was Mokgalo/Mongangane, as a result the area was full of long grasses and all type of trees; hence the name Ditlhagane/Nature because it was “all too natural” so to speak. Kgoro which is the sub-regional office of the Traditional council in this area is called Ditlhagane even though the current head man resides in Robosize section.

When asked who was the first head man, the two gentlemen’s memories could only go back as far as the era of the late headman Mokgoko. It is the prerogative of The Royal Council of Ga Mocha in Marapyane to elect a community headman; at the time of publishing we had not been able to visit the Traditional Council Office to get the hierarchy and sequence of the headmen of Ditlhagane since its establishment/founding. Unlike the chieftaincy whereby a Chief is born; a headman is nominated and elected by the Royal Family, Chief and the Royal Council. All headmen report to the Bakgatla Traditional Council, they are required to attend meetings and execute responsibilities in line with the mandate from the Council.

Every village has its first people, Robosize and Ditlhagane are no different – one of the first people were from a family of farmers Kotu (where the Rammopo clan originated) and Mokgoko families which is from the royal family of Ga Mocha arrived in Ditlhagane, the Rammopo’s arrived in the area in 1923. In Robosize the first families were those of Ntlailane and Molwele. The Ntlailane’s were born from the Kau clan. Other popular families originating from Marapyane now in Ditlhagane include Mphiwe, Shihlane, Molwele, Moloro, Mametse etc., they all have their different clans. “As communities grew bigger families such as the Ngako’s (family of The Village Mag’s Sports Editor) came from far away but today they occupy a larger space in the land but everybody knows their position and origins which makes life in the villages so peaceful and harmonious” explained Headman Ntlailane.

Back in the day the local council “Kgoro ya Ditlhagane” ensured that the transfer of skills and training of upcoming generation particularly the males was conducted; this to safeguard the continuation of tradition, teachings and customs for many generations into the future. To understand what the council is doing today to achieve the above objective, Ntate Ntlailane told us how he started attending kgoro (local council) as a young man coming of age, he started out as a secretary of the council led then by the late headman, Arius “Ramaja” Molwele. In 1977 Ntlailane was elected the chairperson of the grave yard committee also known as Diphiri, then deputized by the late Samuel “Nkuku” Molwele.

Furthermore, the two elders told us that during those times Diphiri was only manned by old married men, unlike today whereby a boy in his teens or youth years would just attend willy inly. Democracy confused the masses according to headman Ntlailane, the tradition collapsed post 1994; because young men were invited to attend Diphiri and build kgohlana a sacred fire place reserved for old married men and women built during funerals, weddings, tombstone unveilings etc., cooking at those events was also reserved for elders only. “This is the tradition, that is the right way of doing things ladies and gentlemen” passionately concluded the headman. 

Procedurally the local council tries by all means nowadays to invite qualifying “young men”, initially only married ones were allowed to attend but today they allow all those who are of age. One of the prerogative of the local council is to deal with family feuds, as such although men particularly the youth are allowed to attend, only those who have tied the knot are allowed to sit during those discussions of that nature, following strict rules and protocols of course. The reason for inviting only married men is because the dignity of the family with which that is being discussed has to be maintained. Moreover, the youth is needed at the council to receive any information from government, be it upcoming job opportunities, training and so forth. Traditional authorities within the South African government fall within the ambit of the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), that is mainly the link between government and customary lawmakers (Chiefs, Kings, Queens etc.), of course there are other structures such as the Provincial and National Parliamentary House of Traditional Leaders. If there are any development plans by COGTA in any village, this is mainly how the message will be cascaded to the communities, this is why it is key that the youth by all means attend local council and general community meetings.

In terms of the Bakgatla tradition, considering the effects of the coronavirus – according to the two gentlemen; there is absolutely no reason why families should slaughter a cow for a funeral. A cow is a sacred animal in Batswana culture, as such it is mainly required to be slaughtered during the funeral or at the time of the tombstone unveiling also referred to as Tshoboso le Tlhoboso. It is the African culture to cover the coffin with something during the burial service, back in the day the cows skin would be used instead of blankets that are used nowadays, goat skin Setsiba should be placed inside the coffin with the deceased. These are some of the customs that raised the Bakgatla nation.

Community monuments are scattered all around the village, within their community there are properties which were built by residents within their village. Lefisoane primary school which is the oldest in their region was initially constructed with stone (much like Lefiso primary) and thatch roofed, the block has now been demolished. The late Jan Mahanyele was the contractor responsible for the construction of the school

On the introduction above, we made mention of the fact that Ntate Ntlailane is the headman of kgoro ya Ditlhagane which has five (5) sections. Additionally, we explained the history behind the name Ditlhagane, now when asked how other sections were named, they said Robosize section was named after soldiers were travelling long distance from Pretoria to Pietersburg, they arrived, camped and rested for days in the area hence the popular phrase “Robosize masoleng” which means Robosize, military camp site said Mr. Rammopo.  Robosize is on the right of the gravel facing north at the Heroes Soccer ground, it starts from the gravel road adjacent to the Lefisoane clinic, goes all the way to Lenyeketsane creating u-shape coming back on the gravel road popularly known as Good Street. One of the most commonly known families within the section is the Maubane’s.

Radijoko section was named as a result of cutting trees called Mekata to craft dijoko which were used by farmer’s to tame cows and donkeys on the cart for traveling and ploughing. The late Monkhe Montwedi was a popular craftsman within the community responsible producing dijoko.

The late Madute Sebidi followed by the late Manuel Mametse were the first to arrive in Lenyeketsane section, it was named as a result of the long road from the clinic, the name is from the traditional Sekgatla dialect “tsela ya nyokella”.

Mmotong loosely translated to English means a hill, the section was built on a hill hence the name, it was named by the Bapedi people specifically AmaN’rebele a Moletlane. The first families to arrive in Mmotong were amongst others include Tsebe, Maheso, Mashishi, Sekwala, Mogaladi families.

It is our hope as The Village Mag that the rich history of our villages can be protected, documented and most importantly taught in our schools. We certainly wish that you as our reader have indeed learned something from this other profiling to come in this section. Finally, we pray that these type of conversations are started in our communities. In conclusion we would like to offer our gratitude to both Mr. Mphela Rammopo and Mr. Modise Ntlailane for having allowed us the opportunity to sit down and learn about the history of Kgoro ya Ditlhagane.

Catch The Interview on Audio