Ba-ka-Nswazwi to return from exile, (BOPA, 2006-09-18):-The Bakalanga ba-ka Nswazwi could finally be jetting into the country from exile in Zimbabwe any time from next month. The group has long expressed its intensions to return to Botswana, The man who had led them while in exile, John Nswazi, had his remains reburied in Botswana at Nswazwi in 2002. He had died in 1960 in Zimbabwe. Permanent Secretary for Political Affairs in the Office of the President Ernest Mpofu said last week that they were still awaiting cabinet to approve the proposed arrangements that would guide the return of Bakalanga ba-ka Nswazwi. The proposed arrangements have to be approved by cabinet very soon. Our hope is that the Bakalanga ba-ka Nswazwi should be back home any time in October or November this year, he said. Mpofu said the proposed arrangements included as to which villages the group would be assimilated into as well as the facilitation of admission of their children into local schools. The intension, according to Mpofu, is to effect the repatriation before the rainy season so as to enable the returnees to prepare for farming if they so wished. Some parents, he said, might need time to check with schools for the admission of their children before the new year. However, Mpofu would not at this stage disclose the number of expected returnees. Ba ka Nswazwi, under the leadership of John Nswazwi, were exiled to Rhodesia in 1948 under the colonial government, which had earlier banished him to Mafikeng. According to the Daily News of June 12 2002, his banishment was a culmination of years of acrimonious struggle with Tshekedi, the then regent of Bangwato. Nswazwi, born in Nswazwi in 1875, ruled from 1910 to 1960 having succeeded his father, Kuswani. A group of Baka-Nswazwi returned in 1959 after having been asked to do so by Seretse Khama and settled at Marapong under the leadership of Mampori Muchawacha who had been assigned by the ailing Nswazwi. Nswazwi had intended to follow later. He had expressed his wish before his death to Seretse at a meeting in Serowe to return to Bechuanaland. Seretse had no objection. Nswazwis uncles are the Tjitjana group in Serowe. When he died Nswazwi left behind a settlement with a population of about 500 stateless followers in Zimbabwe. Although they had been given permanent residence they were denied Zimbabwean citizenship. Ba-ka-Nswazwi are originally Bapedi of Mujaji (Rain Queen) from Potgiteruss in South Africa. They are found in Tutume, Nswazwi, Marapong, Masunga and Nkange with a common totem of Khupe or hare. The praise name adopted for men is Ntombo and for women is Ba-Chilalu (BaTjilalu). They have been assimilated over the years into Kalanga culture and lost their language. They call themselves Baperi, a corruption of the word Bapedi. They left the Transvaal under Chief Tjilalu (Kelalu) of Ramapulane and wandered via Johannesburg, Mafeking and Mogonono in Kweneng to the Tswapong hills where they stayed and planted crops. When the rains failed they headed north, but when the rains came a group returned to the Tswapong hills and settled there. They are Batswapong called Bakgopeng. Those who moved crossed Motloutse into Bulilima-gwa-Menwe, the area of the Kalanga state that was ruled by Chief Menwe of Banyayi, and settled along the Nyamambisi River, a tributary of the Shashe River. They later separated. Tjilalus sons Selolwane (Tjilagwane) and Shabalume led the two groups. Selolwanes group settled near Nkange River, and Shabalume went to Domboshaba near the Upper Shashe to his maternal uncle, Ntale, chief of a group of Bakhurutshe. They intermarried with the Bakhurutshe. Shabalume became a famous hunter and used the wood from the nswazwi or mokabi tree to make the shaft for his spear. When he killed a buffalo, he praised his weapon saying: Nswazwi wa pomba Nombe (the nswazwi tree has entangled the beast). He came to be called Nswazwi and his followers Baka-Nswazwi. The Baka-Nswazwi genealogy starts with Shabalume who became Nswazwi I. In the early 1800, Bangwato, under Kgari and Ndebele under Mzilikazi, attacked them. When they fled from Mzilikazi some sought refuge from Sekgoma, the father of Khama III, at Shoshong. The remnants of this group are still found in Serowe. Others settled in Letlhakane along the Boteti River and others near Dukwe Quarantine Camp. When the Ndebele were defeated in 1893 and the boundary between Bechuanaland Protectorate and Rhodesia drawn in 1899, the home of the BakaNswazwi chief was left inside the Protectorate, but some of his people were on the other side. They later crossed into Bechuanaland to join their chief, Kuswani Nswazwi (Nswazwi VII). They were a close allay of Khama, and Nswazwi was responsible for the Bukalanga area. This amicable relationship ended with Tshekedi who, in his dealings with Bakalanga, bypassed the Baka-Nswazwi and used his appointees to govern the area. Nswazwi, who had been in power since 1910, resisted. Trouble started in 1926 when Tshekedi ordered the BaKalanga to build a fence along the Southern Rhodesia border, which coincided with the onset of the ploughing season. Tshekedi also imposed a cattle levy on the BaKalanga to help pay for his trip to London. In October 1929, Nswazwi wrote a petition of grievances and sent it directly to the resident commissioner, rather than to Tshekedi. The petition brought Nswazwi directly into conflict with Tshekedi. Baka-Nswazwi were ordered to Serowe but Nswazwi went to Mafeking to appeal to Resident Commissioner Daniel. Daniel referred the matter to Tshekedi and Nswazwi and others were brought to Serowe. In June 1930, the new Serowe magistrate, Gerald Nettelton, held the inquiry and ruled in Tshekedis favour. Nswazwi and five others were banished to Serowe, and Tshekedis representative, Rasebolai Kgamane, was sent with a party of Bangwato to rule the Baka-Nswazwi. In 1942 Nswazwi got into a fight with the acting Mongwato overseer, and when the following year Tshekedi came to BuKalanga to reallocate land Nswazwi did not attend his meeting. He was tried and convicted of insubordination and in 1943, he entered prison for 18 months. When Nswazwi was released in 1945, he went straight to his village but in February Tshekedi ordered him to Serowe and sent his representative Tauyakgale and a Bechuanaland Protectorate police officer, who were assaulted by the people. The colonial government retaliated against the assault of a white officer and a Bangwato mophato was armed with rifles, armoured cars and teargas were brought in from Southern Rhodesia, and planes were flown in from South Africa and Rhodesia to circle above Nswazwis village. Nswazwi and 122 others were trucked to Serowe. Nswazwi and 35 others accused of assault were banished to Mafeking. The British tried to banish Nswazwi to Ghanzi, but he successfully appealed against the decision. Those who remained launched a resistance campaign lead by World War II veterans. They elected Nyena Chemela acting leader. In August 1947, Tshekedi ordered 150 of these agitators to live in Serowe, but they resisted by taking their case to court. They lost, but before they could appeal to the Privy Council in London, many women and children fled into Southern Rhodesia. By November 1 600 refugees had crossed into Southern Rhodesia.  

South African Migration Project (SAMP) - Queen's University -