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