This morning I travelled with my friend and mentor, the history professor, Fred Morton, to represent the Botswana Society at a meeting with the Bathoen Trust in Kanye. The meeting was held at the magnificent kgotla offices of the Bangwaketse. We were fortunate to meet Ketsitlile, the Senior Chief Representative. What a great and wonderful man he is. He is weak with age now, but his mind is a living encyclopaedia. We were also privileged to meet Kgosikgolo of the Bangwaketse, Kgosi Malope II. At our meeting was also T.T. Mosimakoko who possesses some impressive knowledge about the Bangwaketse. Mosimakoko tells us of the story of “sekalaba”. Bathoen II’s buses were written “Sekalaba”. Many who did not know the significance of “sekalaba” created a village fake etymology which has since been handed from one person to another with much drama and devastating inaccuracy. The legend goes: Bathoen because of his power and influence wanted to dominate the transport business and therefore threatened potential competitors with the words: “lo se ka lwa ba lwa leka go gaisana le nna!“. He went further, he put the threat on the buses as a reminder to his potential challengers. Instead of inscribing the buses “lo se ka lwa ba lwa leka go gaisana le nna” he condensed the threat and put it in one word “Sekalaba” meaning “(Lo) se ka lwa ba”. That is the legend; that is the fake etymology of “Sekalaba”.
A different story with historical significance however is that during the time of peace and plenty amongst the Bangwaketse, they spread out from “proper” Kanye up in Ntsweng and spread their residences in the valleys below, the place known as Kanye wa marapalalo (marapalalo being the pearl white rock which used to cut through lower Kanye, before people built across it and hacked it off – not to be confused with the hall, named after this rock). During those days, particularly during the period of Kgosi Makaba II, Kanye spread beyond Nneneke, about 7km on the Mmathethe Road to a place called Sekalaba. Sekalaba is derived from the old Setswana verb “go kalabana” which means to “increase and multiply exponentially”. Ka dinako tsa ga Kgosi Makaba II motse le diruiwa di ne tsa kalabana. At the place known as Sekalaba, ke gone kwa go nang le setilo sa ga Makaba teng; this is a rock on which Kgosi Makaba used to sit. Since the village of the Bangwaketse spread from Pharing to this area; the area was named Sekalaba, to capture such impressive increase. Batho ba ne ba kanya (rested); motse o ne o kantse, wa bo wa bidiwa Kanye. So when Bathoen got his bus business, he looked forward to a future in which his business would increase exponentially. He therefore inscribed on the buses SEKALABA, reaching his hand into history, to the time of one of his ancestors; the great Makaba.