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Tribute to Kgosi Enewang Jantjie: 15 March 1948 – 08 October 2020

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It is hard to eulogise any man, and it becomes even more difficult when the person is of royalty. Kgosi Enewang II Jantjie of Batlhaping Boo Phuduhutswana peacefully passed away on Thursday night after a short illness at the Gariep Hospital in Kimberley. The Batlhaping of Boo-Rra-Phuduhutswana of Maswe, Molehabangwe, Mothibi, Luka, Dikare, Enewang I and Pico are made up of true heroes and heroines who bravely defended their land and people from the blood thirsty British and Boer forces.

I met Kgosi Jantjie for the first time almost fifteen years ago when in the company of my colleagues Sunet Swanepoel, Benjamin Lesego Swartz, Colin Fortune and Dr David Morris. We were embarking on negotiations or preparatory meetings with the Mothibi and Jantjie families for the erection of Kgosi Galeshewe memorial in Phokwane.  I remember vividly after introducing myself and babbling about my mission of specifically collecting oral history and rewriting our histories. The question that came from the two Royal houses was: ‘which history are you going to write?’ It did not struck me at that time that both the Mothibi and Jantjie Royal Houses were concerned about some historians who have completely misinterpreted the history of the Batlhaping.  I sheepishly replied by attempting to convince him and the others present about the importance of documenting our vanishing history. I also throw in my Motlhaping allegiance from my maternal grandmother’s side. I further explained how I wanted my research to present an accurate, reliable and authentic account to both the ordinary reader whose interest is merely to know and to the scholarly critics who might be able to point the shortcomings and imperfections of my findings.

Kgosi Jantjie and the late Kgosi Kgosiemang Mothibi started by giving us a lecture on the history of the Batlhaping and their ancestors. From that moment on, he allowed me into his private life. I would later interview him on several occasions at his homestead Magwagwe in Kudumane. The primary objective of my study was to explore the role that his great great grandfather, Kgosi Luka Jantjie played during the wars of dispossession in 1896/7. It was during these long sessions that he would nostalgically relate the stories that were told to him by his parents and elders of the brave Batlhaping and Batlharo men and women fought the British during that war. Kgosi Luka Jantjie and his kith and kin kept the marauding British at bay during the Langeberg War that lasted for a gruelling eight months. Their audacious act of defending their people compelled the British to increase their manpower. The village in Langeberg was burned to the ground by rampaging British soldiers. The resistance was slowly disintegrated, Kgosi Luka Jantjie was killed and later beheaded. Eventually they captured Kgosi Galeshewe, Kgosi Toto and his son Robanyane of the Batlharo. The trio spent a humiliating period at the Breakwater Prison in Cape Town and Robben Island respectively Six of their co-accused including Petlhu were sentenced to death, spelling a land loss jinx that was to befall the Batlhaping and Batlharo for ages. These events eventually led to the permanent displacement of the Batlhaping from their place of birth and relegate them to abject penury.

I would see how deeply saddened Kgosi Jantjie was whenever we touched the issue of land.  His wish has always been to see his people getting their land back. Most importantly, it was during our informal conversations that I realised how incredibly he was full of good humour even mischief despite the heavy burdens he carried as a Kgosi. Today the Batlhaping have disintegrated into a melee of rival factions, as can be attested five years ago during the case that was heard in the Northern Cape High Court when the throne of the Batlhaping was widely contested.

Today I pay my own tributes to an extraordinary leader who could at times be incredibly formidable in any argument yet kind in private. He was installed as Kgosi of Batlhaping on the 1st June 1972 at the age of 24. He served as Chairperson of Seokama Dichaba Regional Authority in Kudumane from 1973 to 1977. He was then appointed as Member of Parliament in Bophuthatswana from 1977 to 1989 where he served as d Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources until 1994. He was then elected as a member of the Provincial Traditional House of Leaders in North West. He then became the Deputy Chairperson of the Northern Cape Provincial House of Traditional Leaders. He later served as a Member of the National House of Traditional Leaders and later as Deputy Chairperson of Traditional Leaders until his untimely death.

I say: ‘robala ka kagisho Motlhaping wa ga Maswe’.

Sephai Mngqolo

Friday 09 October 2020.