Updated 17 Oct 2016.


Molokwane is an important iron-age archaeological site situated at Selonskraal west of Rustenburg. Using a combination of archaeology and oral tradition, Julius Pistorius has shown that the site is associated with early Tswana settlement in the North West province, possibly as early as 1600, though this date has been described as "tentative" by other scholars.  It is notable for the extensive stone-wall constructions around the town. More specifically, he established that Molokwane was occupied by "related Bakwena Bamodimosana communities", in particular the BaMmatau  during the Late Iron Age. Furthermore, Molokwane has a settlement style that is representative of the settlement system of historical and contemporary Sotho-Tswana villages in its ground plan, composition and settlement layout.

It is probable that Molokwane grew rapidly during the late eighteenth century, and it is considered a prime example of a number of settlements associated with factions of the baKwena baModimosana which indicate the development of sizable towns ruled by men with significant political power.  The cattle kraals of the dikgosi  were far larger than those of the commoners, suggesting the scale of their political control over their subjects.   Molokwane is closely associated with the rise to power of the baKwena baMmatau ruler Kgaswane, (see also Kgaswane) who ruled between 1770 and 1828, a development that is reflected also in the oral record.  Strangely, no eveidence of iron smelting has been found at Molokwane, a sizeable town that wuld have required tools and weapons for it to prosper; however, it is possible that the Bakwena residents acquired them through trade with other iron-using communities.      (See also Marathodi).

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

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