Phokeng is situated about 10 km north-west of Rustenburg.
The name Phokeng originated in the mid-18th century, during a time of severe drought and deprivation. The people were forced to eat the seeds of a certain type of grass known as phoka. This grass grew around the present day town of Phokeng – the name coming from phoka.
Although no definitive archaeological work has been carried out in the area, a great deal of the work that has been done in the surrounding areas may help to reconstruct Iron Age Life and developments around Phokeng too.
Iron and copper producing Negroids pastoralists inhabited the area from about 350 AD to 600 AD. This indicates the strong likelihood that the ancestors of the present day BaFokeng, as their oral traditions show, may have inhabited their present homeland from at least the Iron Age.
It also indicates the continuity of BaTswana occupation of the former Western Transvaal generally. In other words, BaSotho-BaTswana are direct descendants of the early Iron Age inhabitants of this region.
The archaeological evidence clearly points to indigenous origins of the BaTswana and invalidates any suggestions that their place of origin was “somewhere in the southern Sudan,” as has been previously suggested.
Archaeological evidence and oral tradition also confirm BaTswana ruling lineages to the period before 1500 AD when communities gradually became known as BaSotho and BaTswana.
At about the same time, two such chiefdoms began to split into clusters from which descended most of the BaTswana-BaSotho communities of modern times. Again, oral tradition has it that the BaKwena were one of these lineage clusters, which was founded and led by Malope and his son Masilo, sometime between 1440 and 1560 AD.
In 1500 or thereabouts, this cluster split into many communities, which eventually spread over a very wide area stretching from the centre of the Highveld near Brits to the borders of the Kalahari.
The centre of this spread of the BaTswana communities appears to have been Rathateng, a place close to the junction of the Marico and Crocodile Rivers.
The BaKwena-BaFokeng trace their ancestry from the BaHurutshe, the primary and senior branch of all BaTswana speakers, a claim that is widely acknowledged by all other BaTswana groups.
Masilo had two sons, Malope and Kwena, the latter becoming king of the BaKwena. Some traditions claim that Kwena was a grandson of Malope, but this is perhaps a reflection of the various BaTswana groups claiming priority over others.
Some estimates put BaFokeng settlement at their present day site shortly before 1700. Sometime between 1680 and 1700, drought and famine set in, resulting in many groups migrating in search of grazing and water.
The drought was severe in the Rustenburg area, from where one of the BaKwena groups migrated southwards to Lesotho where they later became known as the South Sotho. However, some of the BaKwena groups still remained in the Phokeng area.
From the mid-18th century, the Magaliesburg was characterised by violent conflict in which various chiefdoms in the region attempted to centralise and incorporate weaker groups. This in fact, was part of a wider process of general conflict among Tswana communities on the western highveld from the middle of the 18th century until the early 19th.
Competition, according to Prof. Andrew Manson, was due to a number of factors such as increased competition for the control of trade and a shortage of agricultural and pastoral land.
Internal strife was highlighted too when, from 1810 to 1825, infra-ethnic warfare and instability, which sapped their energies, shook the Kgafela-Kgatla in the Pilanesberg
The Paul Kruger Country House Museum
Situated on Boekenhoutfontein, the historic farm of President Paul Kruger, comprises various farm buildings, farmyard and a house museum
5km north of Phokeng off R565 between Rustenburg and Sun City
Tel: (014) 573-3218
Fax: (014) 573-3218