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Visionaries, Missionaries and Mercenaries of Inland Encounters: Reconstruction of Bakopa Nation (1800-1900) webinar

Presented by Dr David wa Maahlamela- Postdoctoral Research Fellow (JIAS-NIHSS)

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Date(s) - 24 Nov 2020
10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study

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The Bakgaga Bakopa, descendants of Barolong, inhabited Thabantsho around the 1700s, and formed close relations with the Maroteng Paramountcy. The first to host the German missionaries under the newly proclaimed South African Republic (Transvaal), Bakopa survived extermination by the Boer-AmaSwazi military alliance on 10 May 1864. Remnants of the massacre become instrumental in the 1865 establishment, and growth thereafter, of Botšhabelo Mission Station. They also laid the foundation of a linguistic cluster, Sesotho sa Leboa. The historiography of the Bakopa—Boers—Berliners encounter, however, excludes their perspectives in favour of settlers and missionary archives. Such imbalance does not only expose this history to misrepresents, it also denigrates Bakopa, depicting them as sheer props in their own story. To demystify, reimagine and reposition the native perspective in juxtaposition with the dominant narrative of this encounter, the study introduces, interrogates and mainstreams the unchartered linguistic landscape of Sekopa as one native perspective at our disposal. Tšhupye Serote’s collection of essays (1893) and Mogababiše Ramaila’s biography (1935) shed light into what things were before they became what they are. In the larger scheme of things, the study is an attempt to undo history through introduction of a decolonial perspective to the Bakopa story.

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