Mankurwane Mankurwane

Title Kgosi (Chief)
Other Names
Date of Birth 1815-00-00
Date of Death 1982-11-00



Updated 15 Oct 2016

Mankurwane (Also Mankoerane)
Born c.1815, died November 1892. Mankurwane was the son of the Batlhaping senior Kgosi (chief) Molale, and was leader of the Taung faction of the chiefdom from 1869 to 1892. He ruled over the Batlhaping during a particularly difficult time, when the Boers and the British were intent on encroaching on his territory. The initial years of his rule were devoted to strengthening the economic position of the chiefdom and consolidating control over Batlhaping villages in the Dry Harts valley. His followers were also particularly successful at producing food and timber for sale at Kimberley, which had become the centre of the mining industry in South Africa.

The mineral discoveries however soon placed pressure on the Batlhaping. Their land rights were over-ridden and they were placed under colonial control when the British annexed Griqualand West in 1871. Deteriorating political and economic conditions forces Mankurwane into defying British authority in 1876-1879, in what was known as the Griqualand Rebellion. Although he gave the appearance of being neutral in the rebellion, he gave tacit support to other sections of the Batlhaping, for which he was fined a thousand head of cattle by the British. As a result of the Griqua rebellion Mankurwane's polity was strengthened by the influx of many Batlhaping refugees who fled for support to Taung.
He had about 5,000 followers at his capital at Taung. However, Mankurwana had 'lost credibility among the Batlhping by allying with the colonial British', who recognised him as 'paramont' of all the Batlhaping, which was not the case, as his father, Molale,  was in fact the second eldest son of the fonding father of the Batlhaping, Molehabangwe.

The British, having secured Griqualand West, lost interest in affairs north of the Crown Colony's border. In turn the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State began to covet the fertile lands of the Batlhaping at Taung. In 1881 Mankurwane's Batlhaping became involved in hostilities with the Kora under the authority of Massweu. A number of Boer mercenaries came to the assistance of Massweu, a means of indirectly attacking Mankurwane. The Boers laid siege to Taung in 1882. As the tide turned against him, Makurwane, disillusioned with the British, appealed to the Transvaal authorities for help. The Transvaal did restore peace-but at a price. The Batlhaping were forced to cede a large tract of land, which was called the Republic of Stellaland, and which was occupied by a number of Boers.
Mankurwane refused to accept this situation and waged a low key but continuous war against the Stellelanders, which bled the Batlhaping of some 50,000 head of cattle. During this time he surrounded himself with advisors, some, like Agnor Dumas genuine in their support of the Batlhaping, and others motivated only by the opportunity of being granted land as a reward. Indeed, Mankurwane gave away a considerable number of farms in order to buy support from white mercenaries. The Taung branch of the Batlhaping also faced exploitation from a number of traders who set up stores in their terrotory. Boer influence in the Bechuanaland region eventually alarmed the British, who intervened and removed the Stellalanders from Mankurwane's land in 1885. Mankurwane in turn was placed under colonial control. He tried to maintain some degree of autonomy for the Batlhaping by cooperating with the British until he died in 1892.          

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

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