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Motswasele II, by L. D. Raditladi

Motswasele II, by L. D. Raditladi

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With an introduction by Sabata-mpho Mokae

In Motswasele II, the first historical drama written by a Botswanan author, originally published in the Bantu (later, African) Treasury Series by the University of the
Witwatersrand Press, in 1945, Leetile Disang Raditladi explores the concept of bogosi (chieftainship) and what it means to be a good chief through the characters of two powerful men, Moruakgomo and Motswasele. According to the history of the Bakwena, the two men vied for the throne. Raditladi critiques the tyranny of Motswasele, whose actions are those of a greedy dictator with no regard for his people. His iron-fisted rule, disregard for advice from his council, and the fact that he helps himself to his subjects’ cattle at will cause great unhappiness. He surrounds himself with untrustworthy people who are not of royal blood and know nothing about power. In contrast, Moruakgomo is portrayed as a true leader who is caring, brave, wise, visionary and not above taking advice.

In the drama, Motswasele is cautioned against wronging people he may need in the future, and being swayed by false songs of praise. Motswasele II highlights the
importance of traditional rule, and the need for a chief to dispense power judiciously and to resolve conflicts where these arise.

Motswasele II is part of Wits University Press’ African Treasury Series.

African Treasury Series
The African Treasury Series, published from the 1940s onwards, consists of texts written by pioneers of South African literature in African languages. It provided a voice for the voiceless and celebrated African culture, history and heritage. The re-issue of these foundational texts with new introductions supports ongoing efforts to highlight the importance of writing in indigenous languages, and to remember and celebrate these early giants of African literature. The African Treasury Series is now available in ebook and print formats.

Key words: historical drama; African treasury series; Bantu Treasury series; chiefs; traditional leader; heritage.

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