Moiloa II Moiloa

Title Kgosi (chief)
Other Names
Date of Birth 1800-00-00
Date of Death 1875-00-00

Updated 7Octber 2016.


"A Hurricane, a stormwind on massive legs!"  (from Praise poem of Moiloa.) Probably the most important nineteenth century figure in the history of the baHurutshe. Moiloa enters the historical record as early as 1820 when the Rev. John Campbell of the London Missionary Society(LMS)  visited the baHurutshe capltal at Kaditshwene. At that time the morafe was under the control of Moiloa's uncle Mokgathle following the death of Sebogodi. Campbell noted, perceptively, that,  "I should not wonder if Mooelway's [Moiloa] popularity excited suspicions in the mind of the Regent [Mokgathle], lest by and by he might wrest legal power from his hands".  This is precisely what Moiloa did, though it was over two decades before he did so.

Two years after Campbell's visit, the baHurutshe split apart following attacks by the first difaqane raiders. Mokgathle and Moiloa moved to Modimong on the Harts river, giving allegiance to Mahura of the baTlhaping. Moiloa here encountered both European missionaries and the Griqua/Kora people, and maintained his contact with latter, recognising them as potential allies against the AmaNdebele, who now held sway in the Madikwe district. In 1837, Moiloa, who was now the main decision maker among this baHurutshe faction, sent a contingent of his men under Jan Bloem to raid AmaNdebele cattle near Mosega. In the same year Moiloa struck an agreement with Andries Potgieter the Voortrekker leader, who allocated land to the baHurutshe, provided they remained loyal to the Boers. It was only twelve years later, in 1849 that he returned to his homeland, settling at Dinokana with the missionary protection of the LMS.  
The LMS missionary Walter Inglis recorded in 1848 that "Moiloa, my old chief, has joined me with his was by far the largest meeting [of the baHurutshe] that I have ever had".  

By this time Mokgathle had died, but, due to his astute leadership, Moiloa was able to unite most of the BaHurutshe under his leadership. Moiloa then stabilized his community by ensuring that no problems were encountered between the baHurutshe and the South African Republic, (SAR) and the local Boers. This meant accepting demands for labour and tribute from them. He also accepted the presence of the Hermannsburg Missionaries among his people, though he personally never converted to Christianity. The HMS missionary, Ferdinand Jensen described him as  "an excellent man, not only as a ruler but in the way he aids the spread of Christianity".  From 1860 he embarked on a process of strengthening the baHurutshe. This meant expanding the economy and extricating himself from the control of the SAR and the Marico Boers. This was achieved by hunting and by turning to commercial agriculture. In the 1870s the BaHurutshe were described as "the most thriving [agriculturally] of the Bechuana tribes".  Moioloa also resorted to a range of tactics to resist the demands of the Boers. For example he refused to pay taxes if threatened by labour demands, and petitioned the state when he felt he had been badly treated.  By assisting the Boers (for example in their conflict with Sechele's BaKwena), he came to be regarded as a useful ally, and in turn was able to make demands upon the Boers themselves. He refused conversion even on his deathbed, but in a typical act of compromise, instructed Jensen to lay him in a coffin and not to bury him in seated position as was customary. (See also BaHurutshe, Kaditshwene, Mokgathle, Hemannsburg Missionary Society.)                   

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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