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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


PORSEL, Christine. Unity, diversity or separation? The Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in the borderlands of southern Africa. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp.252-268. ISSN 2309-8392.

The integration of traditional institutions in the aftermath of colonisation and apartheid in Southern Africa has not only affected governance and jurisdiction in individual countries but has also left a lasting imprint on traditional communities and institutions. Due to migration and changing colonial borders, the Tswana chiefdom of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Botswana and in South Africa have experienced different paths of development, and both parts of the tribal entity have had to adapt to various social environments, legal frameworks and institutional setups. The research analyses the consequences of the geographical division and separate development of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela. Internal dynamics like adaptation, modernisation and assumption of new traditions have interacted with external factors such as the impact of legal and institutional pluralism in Botswana and South Africa. The article discusses how the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela have dealt with these obstacles and whether cohesion has been maintained by the traditional leadership and communities. After periods of close co-operation, cross-border rule and mutual support of the tribal leadership, they are currently facing serious threats to tribal unity.

Keywords : Traditional institutions; legal and institutional pluralism; Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela; cross-border relations.

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