Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Resettlement: A Tale of Several Villages

Here's a new perspective on the resettlement of the Moshaweng Valley. I heard it second-hand from the local priest, but I thought it interesting enough to share.

The party line about the area's history is that the people suffered a forced removal from Gatlhose (now Lohatla) to Padstow, Laxey, Slough, Deorham and Bendell. The alternate version claims there was nothing "forced" about it.

In this scenario, the government wanted the people out of Gatlhose. Either they wanted the land for military purposes, or they simply wanted the people moved into Bophutatswana. Either way, they went to the tribal chiefs and negoiated. They bought up the farms of Padstow, Laxey and so forth and offered this land to the chiefs. The chiefs came, saw all the green foliage and agreed to move themselves and their people. The move happened, people brought their cows and goats along with them, and suddenly the land wasn't so green anymore. The land's new residents weren't exactly pleased to discover that beneath all the pretty, pretty green foliage was nothing but a whole lot of sand. So now the people are less than thrilled to be living here, but at the time, apparently, there was little resistance. Granted, not everyone got a vote. Tribal societies are not democracies, a fact no doubt exploited by the apartheid government.

I guess the lesson here is yes, do look a gift horse in the mouth. What was quality farming land for a half dozen people is not necessarily quality farming land for thousands.

What I find most interesting is that finally, all the English village names have been explained. The villages were often named for the farm or farmer who originally occupied the land. Aha!

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