OUR STORY | TRENDING
With the Wild Cat People of Manthatisi settled on their mountain stronghold, Sekonyela finally took the reins of power from his mother.
It did not take long before new arrivals threatened the peace of the Caledon River valley. When a surprise attack on Yoalaboholo failed, Mzilikazi’s regiments moved on towards Thaba Bosiu.
Sekonyela warned Moshoeshoe of the coming enemy, who were unable to storm the mountain, and they were driven off. Despite this show of fellowship, Sekonyela was to involve the Batlokwa in many a fight, as the following extract shows.
Manthatisi and Sekonyela – The Kgosi Rules (Book 2 of 2)
SA Heritage Publishers
48 pages; illustrated
R115 at bookstores
From the west, a more deadly foe approached in the form of a group of people known as the Koranna. With their origins in the Cape, this mixed-race community were the first to make the long migration northwards, preceding both the Trekboer and the Basters.
Often confused with the Griqua, the Koranna in the Thaba Nchu and Thaba Bosiu regions could be traced back to the Kora. This was a hereditary group of the Khoikhoi, who had met Jan van Riebeeck shortly after his arrival at the Cape of Good Hope in the mid-1600s.
Taking advantage of their military superiority over their neighbours, armed and mounted bands of Koranna raided consistently throughout present-day western Free State.
Between 1827 and 1831, Moshoeshoe was repeatedly raided by bands of Koranna. Sekonyela was also attacked by a roving band of Koranna, who had been driven off by Moshoeshoe. The Batlokwa lost many cattle, and Sekonyela developed an appreciation of the firepower of the Koranna raiders.
So impressed was Sekonyela that he sent a delegation after the Koranna, following them all the way to the confluence of the Orange and Vaal rivers.
He invited them to return as friends to teach the Batlokwa how to ride and shoot. Surprisingly, the Koranna agreed and Sekonyela was to purchase several horses from them.
It was a time of rapidly changing alliances, especially with one such as Sekonyela. It may be that he grew impatient at the rate at which he acquired guns and horses because he decided that it would be quicker to seize what he desired, and he would start with the very people whom he had invited to teach the Batlokwa how to shoot and ride.
One night, he raided the Koranna, making off with many horses and some cattle. His victims were having none of this, galloping over to Sekonyela’s stronghold to claim their livestock. In typical fashion, Sekonyela jeered at them, driving them off.
Undeterred, the Koranna enlisted the help of the Bataung under Moletsane and the Baralong under Moroke.
Sekonyela was driven across the Caledon River by these combined forces. In the process, the cattle belonging to the Batlokwa were taken. While the Koranna and their allies returned home, Sekonyela went to Tsikoane, Leribe, Sebotoane, Thaba Patsoa and Khoeneng.
Relationships remained tense between Koranna bands and the various clans in the region between the Caledon and Orange rivers. Moshoeshoe learnt that the Koranna had one weakness – they appeared to fear the presence of white missionaries. In 1833, Moshoeshoe received the missionaries Arbousset and Casalis and, a year later, Sekonyela did the same.
The Wesleyan missionary Allison established his station at Mpharane, a few kilometres from Marabeng. Sekonyela was happy that the missionaries had arrived, hoping that they would dissuade the ungovernable Koranna from eating him up. It was probably around this time – 1835 – that Manthatisi and her unmarried daughter, Makhaphelo, died.
Without the wise influence of Manthatisi, it’s likely that Sekonyela was freed of restraint. Whatever the case, he continued raiding for cattle, not always successfully. He seemed to have no discrimination when choosing his targets and he drove many smaller clans to seek protection under Moshoeshoe.
The Koranna of Gert Taaibosch arrived in the region in 1834 under the guidance of the Wesleyan missionary Jenkins and settled at Umpukani near Clocolan.
Apparently, Sekonyela had not learnt his lesson and the Batlokwa began to steal horses from the Taaibosch Koranna. He also tried unsuccessfully to raid their cattle.
Taaibosch retaliated, chasing the Batlokwa as far as Yoalaboholo. During the fighting, Sekonyela lost men and cattle. One night he attacked the camp of the Koranna, but was defeated. The next day, the Koranna onslaught began again. This time they stormed the Batlokwa stronghold. Many Batlokwa were killed and most of their cattle captured. The Koranna chased Sekonyela as far as the Maluti Mountains.
Sekonyela seemed to consider everyone except the Basotho as his enemy, raiding their flocks and herds whenever he could. The Koranna, with the Barolong of Moroka, the Griqua of Pieter Davids, the Newlanders of Carolus Baatje and the Bataung of Moletsane as allies, responded with sporadic but highly effective strikes.
During this time, the territory of the Batlokwa was often deserted and many people left Sekonyela to join Moshoeshoe or take refuge at various Wesleyan mission stations.
Reports of the numbers of followers left to Sekonyela vary, with some saying he had as few as 10 and others putting the figure at about 700. The hostilities eventually subsided and Sekonyela returned to Yoalaboholo, and began to collect his people and recover his strength.
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