Keynote address by North West Premier, Honourable Bushy Maape on the occasion of the unveiling of the Women’s Monument at Dinokona Village, Ramotshere Moiloa Municipality
Programme Director, Mr Ace Mabaakanye
MEC of Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation, Culture Ms Galebekwe Tlhapi, Executive Mayor of Ngaka Modiri Molema, Cllr J. Makolomakwa
The Mayor of Ramotshere Moiloa and Councillors, Our Esteemed Traditional Leaders,
Mr Uhuru Moiloa, our Community Historian Leaders of Faith Based Organisation,
The National Lottery Foundation, Tlhako Ya Pele Foundation Distinguished guests
It is an honour for me to address this important occasion that chronicles the heroic acts of our women forebears in the fight against Apartheid. I am also humbled that this occasion does not only seek to celebrate our heritage, but it is aimed at preserving the history of the liberation struggle.
The people of North West played a colossal role in the fight against Apartheid. This area, Lehurutshe was the save passage for activists and freedom fighters at the height of the liberation struggle. The Bahurutshe people were also instrumental in defending their territory against during the Battle of Dimawe through the alliance of Bakwena, Batlokwa and Balete.
The Alliance was led by Kgosi Sechele 1 who is recorded in history as one of the most successful military strategists in the fight against colonialism and oppression in Southern Africa.
Today we are gathered here to remember and commemorate our gallant heroines who fought tooth and nail for the freedom we are enjoying today. The story of Mme Charlotte Maxeke has inspired women like Priscila Mokone of Batloung ba ga Shole who is the first Female Black Principal in South Africa as well as Mme Grace Masuku of Bakgatla ba ga Kgafela whose knowledge in Indigenous Knowledge System has been peer reviewed in many universities across the world.
As we re-shape this history which over the years has been downplayed and reduced to the doldrums of our painful past let me borrow from of one the greatest thinkers of the 18th century, Karl Marx who succinctly avers:
"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past".
In March 1957 the Reference Books came to effect in Zeerust. A unit responsible in the full implementation of this draconian law was dispatched to this town which at the time was under the jurisdiction of Western Transvaal. The notorious unit then moved to Dinokana which at the time was under the jurisdiction Kgosi Ramotshere Moiloa. He was instructed to accept the reference books and compel his subjects to buy them or relinquish his position. He refused! And was forced into exile.
Even when Kgosi Molioa lost his chieftainship, he continued to be active in the politics of the ANC. He acted as a conduit by assisting young people to go to exile and during his exile years in Botswana he linked up with the ANC in intensifying the struggle against Apartheid.
At the height of these protests the Western Transvaal Administration descended to the town to arrest those it claimed were leading the charge in the anti-pass protests. Twenty women had burned their passes in full glare of the officials. When the police force moved swiftly to arrest some twenty women suspected of being ring leaders of the protests, two hundred more women surrounded them as an act of solidarity.
The unrest that began in Dinokana spread to other villages. This includes Motswedi, Borakalalo, Rietpan, Driefontein, Lobatla, Moshana, Mokgola/Leeuwfontein Lekubu (Braklaagte). The women of Lekgophung took matters into their hands and told their Kgosi to be absent when the notorious unit arrived. In Shupingstad the village was deserted when the Reference Book Unit arrived. In Braaklagte and Borakalalo the books were refused outrightly.
As a consequence of these actions the people of Lehurutshe became active in politics. It is this very same political trajectory which laid a tangible foundation and inspired student activist, Onkgopotse Tiro. Tiro a former student leader of Turfloop University and History Teacher at Isaac Morrison was assassinated through a parcel bomb in Botswana.
On this occasion we also remember The Luthuli Detachment who many of them are from this area, Mme Gertrude Mpekwa, Sina Mmadithobane Tsibogo, Mmamorongwa Keebine, Sonnie Tsantsarara Konyana, Borale Sekgabele, Mmabophene Sebogodi. These women and many others made Lehurutshe (Zeerust) a centre of political activism it was in the late 1950’s.
I would like to call on the people of Ramotshere Moiloa to help government fight the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and income inequalities. To expose corruption whenever it rears its ugly head.
We are going to embark on a massive service delivery roll-out campaign. This will include patching roads, infrastructural development such as bulk water and sewer. High on the agenda will also encompass a Covid-19 vaccination ramp-up campaign. We need to reach population immunity so that our lives can go back to normality.
It is my pleasure to officially open this monument. For it records and commemorates the sacrifices made by our people in the fight against Apartheid. We will be working hand in glove with the Bahurutshe ba ga Moiloa Royal House to find a lasting solution to the challenge of Bogosi in Dinokana.
The contribution made by Bahurutshe in the struggle for the liberation of this country must never be in vain.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality for providing land in the erection of this monument, the National Lottery Foundation for assisting with funding, Mmabana Foundation for the disbursement of funds, Tlhako ya Pele Cultural and Heritage Institute for research and erection of the monument.
I thank you!