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History Behind The Statue of African Chiefs

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Statues of the three African chiefs, Khama, Sebele and Bathoen. You may be wondering why they erected their statues. Well, among what they did, they outwitted Cecil Rhodes and prevented him from pillaging their land.

Cecil Rhodes, the capitalist evil businessman of 19th century always needed land and resources for gains. Anywhere he set is sight on was followed by deaths and extreme pillaging. Cecil Rhodes company would identify a territory and unleash mercenaries who didn’t find anything wrong in shooting those whom the lands belonged to. In no time, Cecil Rhodes took large part of lands in Southern Africa, which he named after himself: Northern Rhodesia (Now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).

The African chiefs of Bechuanaland were observing the trail of blood that was coming to their door step. They didn’t wait for Cecil Rhodes to get to them before they looked for a solution. They knew they could not match Cecil Rhodes mercenaries, so they set out on a journey to London. They struck a deal with Queen Victoria and Chamberlain to declare Bechuanaland a protectorate of the crown. The African chiefs ironed out a good deal with the crown and Chamberlain: the one that won’t make the British disrupt their indigenous political system, and will give them control to decide their own affairs and most importantly keep Cecil Rhodes at bay. But of course they gave the crown something in return; some control. When Cecil Rhodes heard of the development in England, he was mad. He felt embarrassed by the fact that he was outwitted by three local chiefs.

It came at a price. The British didn’t build much infrastructure in Bechuanaland since their interest there was tenous. But the Bechuanaland political setting was the one that was decided by the whole community alongside the chiefs. Chiefs were selected by achievements and what they bring to the table in Bechuanaland. It wasn’t an hereditary thing at that point. Decisions were made by communities sometimes in a way that overrides the orders of the chief. There was freedom of speech. Their political setting made it possible for them to have progressive leaders. About the same time when African independence started gaining momentum, they got complete independence from the British. Bechuanaland was poor, but making a steady progress, howbeit, slowly. They were flanked by countries controlled by whites who hated them as black controlled nation: Namibia and Zimbabwe, with South Africa having an apartheid problem. Bechuanaland became Botswana after independence. They wrestled with poverty in the beginning, but steadily they grew and built themselves up.

The three chiefs, Khama, Sebele and Bathoen prevented Bechuanaland (Now Namibia) from becoming another of Cecil Rhodes company for profit.

 

Credit: Olamilekan Xtrafine

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