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Mafikeng municipality reverts to its original name: Mahikeng

By Boitumelo Tshehle North West Correspondent | 2012-09-12 09:20:05.0

MAFIKENG local municipality will officially change its name to Mahikeng on Friday - in a move that the tribal authority in North West, Barolong Boo Ratshidi, describes as the answer to their prayers.

Mafikeng local municipality mayor Lenah Miga said it was important for people to adapt to the name change.

One of the officials in the Barolong Boo Ratshidi tribal authority, Solomon Rasenti Molema, said the name Mahikeng symbolised the natural rock features in the area.

"It is unique in the sense that it is not named after a human being," he said yesterday.

Molema said the town was originally called Molema in 1852, and then later changed to Mahikeng in 1881 after the late Molema's young brother, Chief Montshioa, settled on the banks of the Molopo River.

"The place was full of volcanic rocks and Chief Montshioa thought the name Mahikeng would be suitable because of all the natural, rocky features," he said.

Soon after that Mahikeng was besieged by the Boers, and Montshioa appealed to the British forces for assistance.

The Boers were subsequently repelled.

Molema said Montshioa gave a portion of land to the British, who renamed it Mafeking. They ran it as a colonial town, distinguishing it from the tribal town of Mahikeng.

Many years later - when Mmabatho was incorporated into the town of Mafeking by the then Bantustan government of Bophuthatswana, the name was changed from Mafeking to Mafikeng.

Molema said Barolong Boo Ratshidi had asked the Mafikeng local municipality in 2009 to give the place its original name, Mahikeng.

The municipality agreed and the name change was subsequently gazetted and approved by former minister of arts and culture Lulu Xingwana.

"We are happy about this. We want to unite Mahikeng with the Barolong heritage ... and Mafeking with the colonial heritage, into one great capital," Molema said. - tshehleb@sowetan.co.za

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