Saturday we drove off to the Tswapong Hills to attend the 60th Anniversary of Moeng College. It was also their prize giving and since both of our children attend the school, I had an important reason to be there.
Moeng College was the brain child of Tshekedi Khama, regent of the largest tribe in Botswana, the Bamangwato, from 1926 to 1959. In attendance at the ceremony on Saturday was his daughter, Her Majesty Semane Bonolo Molotlegi who is also the Queen Mother of the Royal Bafokeng in South Africa. She spoke of her father's wish to build a college in the middle of the Tswapong Hills in a quiet place near the stream and the waterfall, an environment conducive to learning. He started the long process in 1933 when he requested to build the school from the British Protectorate authorities. But that was during the Great Depression and money could not be found. When the Great Depression was over he attempted to begin his project but World War II broke out. It was only in 1947 that construction began on the school.
The tribe was asked to donate money for the college. A staggering 100,000 British pounds was raised from the tribe only. You must keep in mind that this was 1947 and this was money collected from people who primarily lived on subsistence farming and cattle rearing. It is astonishing to consider.
Tshekedi Khama used mephato to build the school. A mophato is an age regiment made of men who had gone through bogwera (initiation) at the same time. These men spent two years building the school in the bush without returning home.
Tshekedi was a visionary in many ways. On Saturday his daughter mentioned how he had been the initiator in negotiations to stop prospectors from searching for minerals in the then Bechuanaland. He was successful in stopping them. If he hadn't the history of Botswana would have been a very different one.
He was a visionary too when he built Moeng College. For the first thirty years the school was self-sufficient in food. It had its own dairy, butcher, bakery, garage, generator and orchard. The students were required to learn practical things as well as academic.
Tshekedi also had no time for the racism that flourished among colonial run schools. There was no difference between the houses for white teachers and black teachers and they all lived together.
The school flourished producing some of the more influential and powerful people of this country and even from other countries as there were students from all over Southern Africa at Moeng. Among the school's graduates are: Kgosi Seepapitso, former President Mogae, former minister and successful business man David Magang, Minister of Finance Baledzi Gaolathle, well known Serowe resident and BNF MP candidate, Ms G. Nthebolan ,and leader of the opposition in Parliament MP Otsweletse Moupo.
At the ceremony, the Queen Mother announced that her family, have decided to start a trust for Moeng College called the Tshekedi and Ellen Khama Trust Fund, and they donated P185,000 to start the fund off.
(PHOTOS: Up- the Boy with his father, Down to left- the Boy receiving prize for academic excellence from the Queen Mother, the Girl with her father receiving her prize from Miss 60th Anniversary)