A Babble plus Bataung Genealogy

On a number of occasions, I have declared myself as a descendent, by marriage, of Molete within the Bataung clan, “ke motaung oa Molete ka lenyalo“. This statement, loaded as it is, has failed to arouse (m)any questions. I suspect this has little to do with the fact that I am unmarried in the sense of exchanging vows to a soul mate and promising, in metaphoric terms, to build a future at the pinnacle of Qiloane, “ho haha bokamoso (ba motse oa rona) qooeng ea Qiloane. 1

I believe it has much ado about how I make the statement. I do it with a mischievous glimmer in my eyes, masked ever so slightly by my version of a dexterous detached attitude that makes it possible to embrace the label: “motla-a-pepiloe”, a child begotten on her mother’s back into marriage 2. This attitude is by no means unfriendly to deter people from probing me with questions. I merely suspect that people choose not to ask because they assume they know what it is I am alluding to, even though this may just be one side of the story.

This said, let me assure you that there is another side to my declaration, which, in my opinion, truly roots my identity (especially as a proud feminist who is mindful of the power of choice that comes with adulthood). This side pertains to a piece of history where a woman married a man in order to carry her family name forward. Specifically as it applies to my choices as an adult, it is about choosing to identify with a piece of matriarchical history that some would prefer to ignore or phrase in a manner that eliminates a woman totally from the picture.

Ntate Ramakhula in his article about the “genealogy of Bataung” 3 makes mention of this history. I must say, seeing it in black and white almost made me fall off a chair with glee. However, I was slightly disappointed by failure to once again acquire the name of a woman that history wants to forget; I don’t mean her alias ‘Mamolete, which references her by the son she bore.

Enough with my babble! Now, in the spirit of sharing my joy, below is a condensed version of Ntate Ramakhula’s article, inclusive of an enthusiastically generated graphic of the Bataung genealogy:

Tebele did not bear a male heir, but tried to enforce his daughter’s son to be his heir and the head of Bataung. Contrary to the custom, he married a son in law for his daughter into his family and their progeny was thus declared, but, his subjects nullified the declaration, hence, Molete, the son from his marriage was denied the seniority. […] If gender issue had not been negative, the Bataung ba Ha Molete would have been the most senior.


  1. Qiloane is a conical mountain, which has inspired the design of the traditional Basotho hat, “mokorotlo”. In my romantic patriotic heart, a future built on top of Qiloane amounts to nurturing a relationship in an elevated pedestal of mutual respect, where trust and openness make it possible to sustain winds (of change/life) coming in varying speeds from different directions.
  2. Motla-a-pepiloe in many ways is akin to the word black. Mainly in that its use can be vulgarised and perverted in a manner that impacts self-esteem; unless, of course, one learns to see it as a mere adjective.
  3. Tšeliso Ramakhula, Looking at the Origins of Bataung, Visions, Vol. 8, p 41-42

45 thoughts on “A Babble plus Bataung Genealogy

  1. my appetite for my origin and history of Bataung ba mokhele is seriously sharpen.I need to know more about them. The most beautiful part is that i now know how we are related to the rest of Bataung.I have a school of my sibling and their offspring that i must provide answers in our history

    • I am sorry I can’t be of much help, but perhaps someone will. Personally I don’t imagine their upbringing was any different from other clans except perhaps in how they were initiated … and as you may know what goes on in initiation stays there!

  2. your response is very much encouraging, especially during this month of soul searching and pride about our heritage. I also like to encourage Bataung to make an effort to communicate more regularly in a bid to reconcile our understanding of our origin and save our history for the future. On the 29th September 2012 we will be gathering at a common venue under the banner of “Bataung ba Ramokhele reunite” and meet whoever all.We hope to grow this reunion to all later.

  3. my father told me that my clan is manguta and we are originaly suthu people.bt we use the xhosa culture. do any of you know that clan name? plz send it back to my email address.(desparate)

  4. My surname is Thebane staying in Klerksdorp but originally from Parys. I am Motaung wa Hlalele but how I dont know. When I look at your tree I realise that every name that I say ha ke iothoka is within the structure. Can you please find my Thebane surname roots.

    Thank you

  5. Hello Mathe.

    Thank you very much. Nna ke wa ga Motebejane, and We are so known to be Matebele yet we speak only Northern Sotho. Theres a big clash in origins some saying we are “BASIA” having parted from Sekonyela, while others say we are of Langa (Nguni) and migrated North via Swaziland.

    I see Motebele, Tebele, and Tebejane which I would just guess have something to do with this. Do you perhaps have timelines on the tree that I can make reference to?

    They call me “Motebele” yet surname is “Motebejane” – don’t make sense seing that these were two different people when I follow the Bahurutse roots>
    We venerate the Elephant, but have no link to Lesotho “Motebejane” who Venerate Phaha(wild cat).

    Do you perhaps know which other clans under (Matebele) in Lesotho venerate Tlou and of which their origins where Northern Zululand(Mahlabathini etc) to Lesotho ?

    Please help. I am busy constructing my family tree and it is very very hard to pin down.

    • Matebele in Lesotho have a complicated history. They are basically an amalgamation of many groupings from the North—dispossessed largely by Lifaqane. Some have Zulu origins, some are amaHlubi and so on. All these groupings tended to have one thing in common: their shields design was very different to those of the clans from the South that they were joining (http://www.mathevk.org/wiki/basotho-clans/matebele/)

      The different groupings, for the most part, are still attached in varying degrees to their original roots. This is why there is no singular totem emblematic of the Matebele.

      The above said, I don’t have any answers to the questions you ask. Sorry!

  6. Thank you for the response Mathe.
    I had stumbled upon some other facts, which have made a huge contribution to the questions I originally had. If you don’t mind me sharing: I will start by asking this 2 questions:

    1. “How did MOTEBELE (from Mohurutshe) manage to have so many descendants in the Drakensburg hemisphere (Lesotho, Orange free state etc. no data of descendants from 1480(Motebele) – 1570 (Moledi)) and yet be reported to have finally settled in the Northern-most, NORTH-west area of the now Limpopo Province in South Africa called BLOUBERG? – As a BAHANANWA CLAN (where generations later still is a chief under varied surnames which is now under Maleboho – Seleka – Motebele etc??
    2. But who fathered Motebele and his sibling then? Will this not be the case of Bataung Ba-Molete? Paternally may not be Bataung at all…!

    “When Motebele was still venerating Baboon from his mother Mohurutshe (that is after they left the Eland-Phof/hu when kicked by Kwena’s supporters), they (Mohurutshe princess and his followers) exiled their land after fighting for eating the first fruits saga where baboons ate them pumpkins – hence taking up baboon as a totem, and left their younger brothers (Kwena, Ngwato, Ngwaketse etc) to join the Rolong chiefdom for protection.

    Mohurutshe passed on at the Rolong (Barolong place) and meant that Motebele and Motebejane had to go back to the Baboons place (Kaditshwene / Zeerust in NW South Africa).
    It is here that MOTEBELE SPLIT WITH HIS BROTHER MOTEBEJANE, and fled to the South towards the Now Drakensburg / Crossed Vaal River from the west towards the easterly Direction. I may not know which children where alive at that time but the name “Lesele”is mentioned as siblings to Tshukudu and Thuloane in the era between: 1450 – 1600.

    However, Motebele did not end up in the Drakensburg, as it is clear that they did go back North West to fight his younger brother and there he went with the support of another clan, the Ngunis, of Hlubi, (People of the elephants). It is then that when he showed up for the fight, accompanied by the Ngunis that they were referred to as “People of Motebele = Matebele”.

    He again got defeated. However, when some Matebele were kept at Zeerust, some went back to Vaal cross (Now Drakensburg etc) and continued the journey with the Ngunis (Hlubi’s under Langalibalele), while Motebele and some followers managed to escape and ran north toward Blouberg and established the Ga-Seleka (Bahananwa chiefdom) , where they venerated Springbok and Baboons).

    While the descendants (Formed the Bataung, etc), those who followed the Ngunis, took a “North-easterly migration” with the rest of the Ngunis now generally called Northern Ndebele of LAKA and ended up arriving in Limpopo area called Zebediela, etc. These people where all termed Northern Ndebele, and are considered the 2nd oldest group to be called by that name.

    They all are clan totem TLOU, and Clan praised in the first stanza as:
    “Matebele makonkwane, ba hloka kgomo ba ja motho”.

    My family clan names “Mache =Mathe / Moatshe; Mokgale =Mogale / Mokhale”, are all synonyms of the names from the original Tswana-Sotho group, and also do not carry any other Nguni names. My family never intermarried with the Ngunis, they intermarried with the Lesotho clan “MONNE = MONNYE (MoleliSanyaneTshukuduMonne)”, and we have sometimes the name “Nthethe” as my great-grandfather’s nickname. This a name similar to NTHETHE of (SanyaneThuloneMorapeliNthetheTebele & Tebejane.

    So our Surname: MoTebejane, would be MO+Tebejane (People of Tebejane). And personal praise as Motebele!!
    “Bare makubu ga ba na sereto, sereto ke mmabona a hwile”

  7. My late father,may his soul rest in peace , his name was monne ,his father my grandfather s’ name was montwedi nthako mmifi , we grew up knowing that ; ke motaung wa ha ramokgele ,lekolokotoana la ha mmakobasia ,le reng ha aja ebe ele ha meriti e thehile ,ho thehile le e menyane ya diotloana ,motho was mmalehahanyana kopela ,monne ke lekidikedi la dithota ,monyane o kokonne ,bohwete ba tloheloa fela.Ke ka moo ntate a neng a ipoka ka teng ,hake tsebe hoya Pele ka lona .

  8. HI,

    Kindly assist me in finding clan root. I am struggling to find the exact origin of “Matebele aha Khumalo”, specifically in Lesotho.

    Thank you

  9. Ke Motaung wa ha Molete,mme ke letswallwa la Herschel,Sterkspruit Eastern Cape ha morena Nkopane.Ke ahile Gauteng,mme ke utlwile ka hlokwana la tsela hore Kaizer Boy-boy Motaung monga sehlopha sa bolo sa Kaizer Chiefs o lohotha ho epa kopano ya Bataung bohle ba mona Gauteng ese kgale.Ebe taba eo ke nnete e le hokae?

  10. Good people I have just read some of your conversation and it breakers my heart to see how big is injustice done to some of the surnames in the past, particularly Banareng. This nation as spread all over southern Africa has been overshadown by many surnames or tribes to an extend that many banareng have adopted foreign identities. My argument here is that Matebele are Banareng and babina kgomo and not tau or tlou. Thank you.

    • Thanks for the comment.
      Please do help to right the injustice by sharing a bit more how this came to be.
      As a BTW, in Lesotho, Matebele carry many identities. My understanding is that you can think of Matebele, say as a unit like SADC—one body constituted my autonomous sub-units (i.e. countries). Of course I could be wrong and if I am I stand to be corrected!

    • Hi, yes I made no mention of Moletsane.
      In the genealogy he appears as Makhothi. I think ntate Ramakhula has written account on when or how Makhothi came to be known as Moletsane. Sadly, I don’t have access to that writing.

  11. As long as you all understand that we are not Basotho but Batswana. We left the land of our ancestors, a place called Taung which is named after our chief Tau. His two elder sons passed away mysteriously and his youngest son called Makgothi was raised by the San people to protect him. He grew up into a man and he led his father’s people who were under Adam Kok of the Griqua people. The Griqua people are mixture of a white person and a San person, they are an offspring of those people. Griqua people gave us a refuge when we left Taung after Barolong attacked and killed king Tau. Moshoeshoe then met Bataung at a place called Phillipolis in the Free State Province of South Africa. He got engaged in negotiations with Makgothi to join Basotho, he agreed and we joined Moshoeshoe. Basotho named Makgothi Moletsane after noticing his talent of playing a musical instrument using skills he learnt from Griqua people that are called Baroa in Sesotho. That is who we are.

    • Well it is for you to call yourself a Motswana if you so wish! Some of us are happy to acknowledge our roots and still self-identify as Basotho. The right to self-identify is an important one. If it weren’t so, we would for example use a one or two clans.

      On the whole I value your input, but on principle I am opposed to how you started making it. On some level, you didn’t sound any different from people who would argue South Sudanese, after all they have and continue to go through, cannot call themselves South Sudanese because their country was only formed in 2011.

  12. Dumela Joseph Molwantwa Motaung

    Ke ntse ke batla nalane Nthako wa Bataung ba Ramokhele, jwale ke utlwa o re o setloholo sa Montwedi Nthako Mmifi. Ntatemolo wa hao ena o tswalwa ke mang. please tell me more. or anyone with information can help.

  13. Ke kopa ho tseba ka nalana ya Baropodi. Ha ba ithoka ba re Ke Baropodi ba Sesana sa nkgope, E tla re ba tla shwa ba pongwe hlooho, ha se bafo ba hlajwang ka lerumo. H ake ntse ke sheba nalana ya Bataung, hoba bang ba re re Bataung, ban g ba re re Matebele, ke bona seboko sena se batlile se tswana le sa Bataung Ba Nthethe a Morapedi. Baholo ba rona ke bo Ramapena, Monyoto mme ka sefane re Mokhosi

  14. Hi guys m a descendent of the Molete tribe Mina phiri e thamakga.all I want to know is the location of my ancestors that’s all

  15. I have gone through this informative discussions and i am inspired. I am also Motaung oa Ha Molete of the surname Ntoko. Currently i have been trying to make such research about Bataung ba Ha Molete especially those who identify themselves with Ntoko. I have have heard though i cannot confirm that Motebele’s daughter who gave birth to Molete was MOLETENG.

  16. Hi my surname is Moeko.
    I’m of bataung clan
    I don’t know neither of my parents
    But through research I know who I am
    And am glad I have encountered people like you who are old who have a better understanding…. I’d like to meet Moeko family members to
    I want to learn our ways…. I grew up in Basia’s home which is my grandma

  17. Hi my surname is Moeko.
    I’m of bataung clan
    I don’t know neither of my parents
    But through research I know who I am
    And am glad I have encountered people like you who are old who have a better understanding…. I’d like to meet Moeko family members to
    I want to learn our ways…. I grew up in Basia’s home which is my grandma

  18. hi my name is khahlisang khaile I read your comment I wander if you can help me I was told by my father that I am motaung waramokhela so I will like to know more about my family coz the only family I know is my brothers and sisters

  19. I’m a motswana of the Bataung decendants.
    My enquiry is trace back origins.
    Our family name is Modisaesi. So I wanted to track the origins of this Batswana group.
    The group of my grandfather has their origins in Bethany (Woeraas Oord) before they came to Bloemfontein and surrounding (small) towns.
    I have an inclination and suspicion to believe that we are from the branch of Tebele and Tebejane through to Tau.
    When I follow their history I come across this path (Bataung – Batswana migration) from the North-west regions of our country(SA) through places like Taung, Warrenton, etc – it makes sense because Bethany is in that line.
    There are different versions from our elders of the past generation as to which branch of Bataung are emanating.
    The one group believed that we are from Moletsane lineage, while others claimed we’re from the Hlalele.

    If there’s anyone who cold help us trace back our forebeings, could they also provide us with the correct ” Seboko sa Bataung” that we identify with

  20. Le ka nhlaisetsa Lesedi ka Bataung Ba Nyaku….. Ha ba ithoka ba re bona ke Babatho ba nyaku Bahurutshe ( Barotse). Batho ba Maholwana , ba Mohoma wa ho pepetlolotsa dithota….. Baholo ba ne ba re bo Nyaku ke ba Ntlo e kgolo ya Bahurutshe ( Barotse ) . Ba boele ba re ba bang ke Ba Ramokhele , Empa Ba RaMokhele ba ana Kolobe eseng Tau.
    Ba ne ba tholwa ka Bophirima ba Free State ho ya Namibia . Ba ne ba le hara Barolong le Barwa .

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