The leadership and stewardship of the Batlhaping and Batlharo dikgosi who took part in the 1897 Langeberg War of resistance, was honoured through the unveiling of a monument in Kuruman on Freedom Day, 27 April.
Sylvia Lucas, Northern Cape premier, together with Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, performed the ceremony to pay tribute to those who had fought and sacrificed their lives in the Langeberg Rebellion.
Lucas described the ceremony as a day for jubilation, yet a reminder of the painful road that “led us to be able to stand here tall and proud to declare that we all are free and equal, and a reminder of the part they played in the struggle for liberation”.
She said the unveiling was a way of expressing gratitude and appreciation for the deceased’s lives and bestowing on them the dignity they deserve for shaping the country.
Lucas honoured Kgosi Toto, Kgosi Jantjie and Kgosi Galeshewe, as well as the brave 1 500 warriors who died at the hands of British colonists.
The many thousands of men, women and children who were taken prisoner to Kuruman and over 2 000 others who were sold to Western Cape farmers were also paid tribute to.
Lucas acknowledged those who had died in custody between Kuruman and Cape Town during the Langeberg Rebellion.
“Wars such as these serve to remind us that we were in the grip of a system that divided us, one from the other; a system that set the minority above the majority by virtue of skin colour; language and origin of birth,” said Lucas.
History reveals that millions of people were deliberately reduced to poverty and robbed of their humanity while thousands of the Batlhaping and Batlharo became destitute refugees in their own country.
“Today we are reminded of the rural hills amongst which generations of South Africans began that long walk to freedom that has taken our nation ever closer to the fulfilment of our dreams.
“It was there in the hills and valleys of the Langeberg; in the rolling hills of Phokwane; in the Magogong settlement; and along the Harts River that we first understood that we are not free.
“It is there that we were inspired and instilled with pride in our history. There, among the humble but proud rural folk, under the leadership and stewardship of Kgosi Toto, Kgosi Luka Jantjie and Kgosi Galeshewe, that we learnt of the courage of our forebears in the face of superior force.”
The premier highlighted that this fearful history was known to the Northern Capers due to them being the sons and daughters of this province who helped pave the way for freedom.
She pointed out how the cause of these wars, that led to so much bloodshed, was a plight for the right to land.
To her, it is still an emotional case, due to the fact that many were removed from their land, which led to elders being buried where they should not be buried.
Elaborating on the right to land issue, Lucas condemned the actions of communities of fixing wrong with a wrong.
She called on communities to allow government to be allowed the chance of resolving the land issue in a peaceful manner.
“The land will be returned to its rightful owners, in the right manner.”
She further warned against those who use the land resolution issue to settle their own political scores.
She said the ANC-led government firmly stood by its promise that a peaceful resolution would be made and that history shall never repeat itself.
It is there that we were inspired and instilled with pride in our history