Moiloa's Reserve

The Reserve essentially comprises land allocated to the baHurutshe and lies north of Zeerust, it's western border abutting Botswana. The name derives from Moiloa 1 who was granted land there by the Trekker leader Andries Potgieter. Initially the land was simply pointed out to Moiloa. In 1865 the Transvaal Volksraad (parliament) passes a resolution defining the Reserve and is was given closer definition. The reserve was never disposed of by a Grant of Deed and was never registered in the Deeds office which caused complications in later years. Additions were made to the reserve by the acquisition of adjoining white owned farms by various baHurutshe leaders, sometimes with the assistance of missionaries.  After the South African War the size of the reserve was calculated at 125, 587 morgen, making it the largest tract of land set aside for African occupation in the Western Transvaal. As the baHurutshe underwent fission, several different groups took up residence in different areas of the Reserve. For example in 1879 a large number of the baHurutshe followed Kgosi (chief) Gopane to Gopane village leading the authorities to formally partition the Reserve.

Map showing Mafikeng, Lichtenburg & Zeerust Bistricts.
The Reserve' s economy was transformed slowly, as traders and concessionaires penetrated it in the late 1800s. Men and women began to seek work elsewhere in South Africa, particularly the Witwatersrand. It was particularly hard hit by the Rinderpest epidemic of 1896, when cattle either died or had to be culled. However in parts, such as at Dinokana, the Reserve was well watered and could support local agriculture. The Reserve was under the control of the Native Commissioner in Zeerust, aided, especially after the British took control, by a Magistrate. In 1904-1905 the baHurutshe at their own expense, erected a fence around the Reserve. After the 1913 Land Act the Beaumont Commission decided to add another 90,000 morgen to the Reserve, thus preventing agricultural collapse.

In the 1930s however the state began to interest itself in the productive potential of the Reserve. Consequently it stressed the importance of modern animal husbandry, soil conservation and efficient agricultural techniques, commonly known as Betterment. Agricultural extension officers began working in the district. A Moiloa Reserve Local Council was established which went some way to turning the area into a "model native area". By the 1950s a "progressive" peasant farming elite dominated politics in the Reserve, competing with the traditional authorities. This was in part the cause of the 1967 baHurutshe Revolt, which in turn blunted agricultural advance in the Reserve. In the late 1970s, in the era of apartheid, large numbers of people were resettled in the Reserve and agri-business schemes were initiated. The Reserve's resources were strained (in particular water) and by the mid-1980s the local economy effectively collapsed, the area of land in the south of the reserve under cultivation dropping from 470 hectares in 1957 to 206 hectares in 1984. (See also 1957 baHurutshe Revolt.)

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

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