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Mathopestad


Mathopestad or Boons lies in the Derby district and is historically the rural village occupied by members of the baKubung ba Ratheo from about 1910.  According to their traditions, a number of baKubung families who had been displaced from their long-term home at Molotestad saw an advert for the sale of a farm by a white man, for a sum of 2,800 pounds. The families clibbed together to raise the purchase price and bought the property. This was the core of the entity who called themselves the baKubung ba Mathope which gave rise to the name of their new village, Mathopestad. By 1936 it was fully occupied. The contributors were allocated land onthe basis of their contributions. The farm offered a sound basis for a transformation in the  economic fortunes of the baKubung ba Mathope. Produce was sold to the surrounding white and Indian residents, and as the Witwatersrand was not far away, some men found work there and repatriated their wages to improve the situation back in Mathopestad. 

 In 1968, in anticipation of the formation of the Bophuthatswana homeland, it was earmarked for the removal  of the residents to a site near Ledig inside the borders of the bantustan. It was an example of what was a 'black spot' in an area designated for white habitation in a fertile part of the former western Transvaal.   As mentioned, the baKubung had made a good living at Mathopestad, growing enough agricultural produce and selling the rest on the market, so that the removal would lead to economic disaster.  

The villagers resisted this by all means at their disposal. To highlight their plight, they developed a strategy that led to a highly publicised visit by Senator Edward Kennedy, brother of former President of the United States, J. F. Kennedy,   inJanuary 1985. The state's tactics were to intervene in the internal affairs of the people essentially in order to to divide them. Cyprian Mathope who had been kgosi from 1936 to 1977 refused to co-operate with the plans of the apartheid state, but his son, Arthur, was more willing to follow government plans for Mathopestad. In 1985 the baKubung were under the authority of Solomon Mathope, Arthur's uncle, but the native commissioner attempted to foist Arthur as kgosi on the members of the village. Possibly due to the publicity given to the planned removal by the Kennedy visit, the Mathopestad residents were not removed, one of only a handful of succesful bids to resist removals during the apatheid era.  



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

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