Disaneng is a village lying along the Molopo river,  about 30 kilometres west of Mafikeng, the capital of the North- West province. In the mid-nineteenth century,  this district was under the control of the Ratshidi baRolong kgosi  Mothshiwa, who ruled from 1949-1896.  According to Barolong historical accounts, Montshiwa allowed a party of baThlaro, who lived further south near Vryburg, to settle at Disaneng in 1866, in return for which they agreed to pay a tribute to the Ratshidi.

Relations between the two groups were cordial until 1910 when the baThlaro objected to the appointment of  Ratshidi headmen to oversee affairs. They wanted to be independent from the Ratshidi. The baThlaro consequently mounted a legal challenge to their status as subjects of the
 baRolong, but this failed, mainly because the Ratshidi had long enjoyed a close relationship with the British colonial authorities .  In 1931 Methusula  "Jan" Masisbi was installed as kgosi of the baThlaro and he immediately embarked on an aggressive  policy to establish autonomy for his community.  On one instance he led a party of armed men to attack Lotlamoreng, who was then ruling the Ratshidi, and was at a cattle post near the border with the Bechuanaland Protectorate. The authorites intervened, threatening to send Masisbi and the baThlaro back to the Vryburg district. Emboldened by this show of government support, Lotlamoreng sent his own party of men to attack the baThlaro and seize some of their cattle.  In turn Masibi appealed to the government and requested permission to leave Disaneng.

Tensions decreased however, and a semblance of order was restored. But in 1946 matters flared up again over control of ploughing lands lying between  Disaneng and Ratshidi-held lands. This boundary problem persisted until the mid-1950's and was never properly resolved despite the efforts of state officials.   In 1980 the Bophuthatswana government constructed a dam at Disaneng, mainly for irrigation purposes but it is also a popular recreation resort. Disaneng, however, remains an impoverished village, plagued by unemployment and related social problems.  It lies within the Ratlou Local Municipality.       

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

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