Dr Ngaka Modiri Molema District, (Central Region) Mahikeng Capital City History


Tribal Origins of Mahikeng

A Brief History of the Barolong Boo Ratshidi Up To 1849

Mafikeng Museum 1 August 1997

Chiefs from Morolong to Tau

The first BaRolong chief was Morolong who lived over 700 years ago.

Following Morolong the probable line of chiefs was:

Note, Morare, Mabe, Mabudi, Moloto, Mabeo, Modiboa, Tshesebat Setlhare, Masspe, Mokgopha-a-Masepe, Thibels, Tau, ...

Chief Tau's Sons

The great Barolong chief and warrior Tau, who died at Taung about 1760, had at least ten sons. In order of seniority they were:

Ratlou, Tshidi, Makgetia, Seleka, Rapulana, Modise, Maleme, Gaanakgomo, Masetlhe, Ramhitshana. The first five of Tau's sons formed the main Barolong clans.


It was from Tshidi, Tau's second son, and not his first Ratlou, that Montshioa descends, a long time had passed before Tau's second wife Kabasane gave birth to her son Tshidi - an apparent result of receiving a fertility medicine - hence the name Tshidi.

Ratlou and Seleka

A disagreement between Tau's sons resulted in Ratlou leaving home. Several of Ratlou's younger brothers planned to kill him for leaving. However, Tau's third son Makgetia persuaded them to abandon their plan out of respect for Ratlou as he was their senior brother Ratlou was therefore reluctantly allowed to leave with his followers. Soon afterwards Seleka also left home. Later, both Tshidi and Makgetia (now known as the peacemaker) left home but continued to live at the same place together with their respective followers - a situation regarded as unusual.

Tshidi and Makgetia

Tshidi died young in a battle with the Dihoja tribe near Mamusa about the year 1775. He died without having produced any sons so, in order to perpetuate this line of chieftainship, a 'levirate' (a compulsory marriage with a childless brother's widow) was arranged by the tribe.


Tshidi's brother Makgetia fathered a son, Thutlwa, with Tshidi's widow Maetswane. This son was to be known as Tshidi's son. Likewise, also by Makgetia, Tshidi's third wife Khukhwane had a son Leshomo.

Tawana and Leshomo

After Tshidi's early death Makgetia had also taken over the leadership of the Barolong boo Ratshidi and acted as regent for Thutlwa and then for Thutlwa's son Tawana until, in 1790, he (Makgetia) was killed in a battle with the Bahurutshe boo Manyana. Leshomo then acted as regent for Tawana who was about fifteen years of age.

Tau (2)

Of Thutlwa's many sons Tau (2), by his first wife Morwa, was the most senior and Tawana was his second son by his second wife Morwanyane. Both wives were daughters of Makgetla.

Tawana's wives

Tawana married Dikgang, his first wife, who was Leshomo's daughter She gave birth to four daughters. Ha then married Mosela-a-Molekane of the Rapulana clan, his second wife, who bore him four sons: Seetsela, Tlalei Motshegare and, later three: Molema-a-Motshegare, also a daughter Majang.


Unfortunately, Tau (2), the first in line, died in his youth without marrying and without any children. So, a variation of a 'levirate' was arranged by the tribe between Tawana and his maternal cousin Sebodio. Sebodio was a daughter of Phetlhu Makgetla who was the brother of Tawana's mother Morwanyane. This was arranged for the sole purpose of providing a son for the deceased Tau (2) in order, once again, to perpetuate the line of chieftainship. Therefore, although Sebodio was Tawana's third wife she was to be regarded as his principal wife and her children as Tau (2)'s children.

Tawana / Leshomo dispute

By 1814, when Tawana was aged 30 and already had several wives, his regent and uncle Leshomo refused to hand over the chieftainship to him. A serious dispute developed between the two which split the Ratshidi clan into two factions.

Tawana into exile

The larger faction under Leshomo remained at Gatshebethwane near Disaneng while the smaller faction under Tawana fied further westwards - first to Loporung and Mmakgori beyond Phitsane Molopo, and then north across the Molopo to Tsoaneng and Moshaneng, south west of Kanye in Botswana.

Birth of Montshioa

During this journey into exile, in August 1815, Sebodio gave birth to a son Montshioa while she was gathering firewood. The name Montshioa means - one who is forced away from home - an exile. Tawana had also married Mmasehera, daughter of Chief Makaba of the Bangwaketse, who bore him two sons: Seane and Rabodieco (Phathakane-a-Seetsela). Tawana then returned south to establish his capital at Phitsane in 1815. It was here, in 1817, that his second wife Mosela-a-Molekane gave birth to her son Molema-a-Motshegare.

Defeat of Leshomo

Tawana was advised to tackle Leshomo. With help from Chief Makaba's Bangwaketse, now allies of the Ratshidi, he drove out Leshomo from Gatshebethwane eastwards into Bahurutshe territory where, in 1818, Leshomo was killed. His leaderless followers then joined Tawana at Phitsane.

Forced migrations

In June 1823 Tawana's Ratshidi were forced to leave Phitsane in order to avoid attack by the Batlokwa and their allies who had oust devastated Kaditshwene. The Ratshidi found refuge with the Ratiou clan at Khunwana until, on the 6 August 1832, the town was destroyed and many of its inhabitants killed by Mzilikazi's Ndebele warriors. The survivors, including Montshioa, under Tawana fled south eastwards to Thaba Nehu.

Montshioa's wives

Montshioa had many wives, in 1837, the year that Mzilikazi was driven out of this region, Montshioa married his cousin Motshidisi to whom a son Rrasekgoro was born. Unfortunately, Rrasekgoro was killed fifteen years later in an accident while the Ratshidi were in exile again at Moshaneng following their return from Thaba Nchu.

In 1839 Montshioa married his half sister Majang, daughter of his own father Tawana by Mosela-a-Molekane. Buku, a daughter, was born in 1840. Montshioa's third wife Tshadinyane gave birth to three sons: Kebalepile, Besele and Tawana (2). Montshioa had married his first three wives while at Thaba Nchu before returning to the Molopo.

Montshioa becomes chief

Chief Tawana died at Lotlhakane in October 1849 and Montshioa, aged 34, became Chief of the Barolong boo Ratshidi.

G.R.Phillips, Mafikeng Museum, 1 Aug 1997

The following persons contributed to this history:

Mr Ramushu Malakia Tawana (verbal information and advice)
Mr Mogakolodi James Marumo (vrerbal information and advice)
Ms Alice Mmajantula Sebigi (recording of verbal info, language, cultural advice)
Mr Dixon Seru Tshipietsile Tawana (verbal and written information)
Mr Leonard Gaogakoe Seleka (verbal information)
Chief Setumo Montshioa (facilitating interviews and general encouragement)
Mr Geoffrey Phillips (coordinating and compiling the work)
Written material was obtained from various sources.