Makololo tribe

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The Makololo (Kololo) are a Tswana people of Southern Africa from Bafokeng Tswana Clan, closely related to the other Tswana People, from which they separated themselves[clarification needed] in the early 19th century. Originally residing in what is now North West South Africa, they were displaced by the Zulu expansion under Shaka and in 1823 started a migration north through Botswana to Barotseland.[1]

In what is now southern Botswana they defeated a number of societies before suffering a catastrophic defeat to the Bangwaketse at Dithubaruba in 1826.[2] After losing all their cattle they moved north east and raided again, but subsequent defeats led them north to Okavango Delta where they again suffered major losses but were able to defeat the Batawana people in 1835. This victory enabled them to replenish their population and cattle holdings, although they moved north after several years.[3]

In 1838, the Makololo leader, Sebetwane crossed the Zambezi River and, by 1845, he had conquered the Lozi people of the Barotseland kingdom and became king. He died in 1851 shortly after meeting David Livingstone, and was succeeded, first, by his daughter Mamochisane, who soon abdicated in favour of her younger half-brother Sekeletu.[4] After about 20 years the Makololo kingdom was overthrown in a revolution, although some survivors (women and children) remained,[5]

Sekeletu provided Livingstone with manu porters for his transcontinental journey from Luanda on the Atlantic to Quelimane on the Indian Ocean, made between 1854 and 1856. Around 100 of these men were left at Tete in 1856 when Livingstone made his way to Quelimane and then to Britain.[6] Livingstone returned to Africa to start his second Zambezi expedition in 1858. On reaching Tete, he was reunited with the porters he left there in 1856 and attempted to repatriate them all to Barotseland. However, by this time Sekeletu was facing increasing opposition from the Lozi majority, and around 16 of them decided to remain on the middle Zambezi.[7]

Those Makololo remaining were used from 1859 onward, by Livingstone and by missionaries of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA), as porters and armed guards to support their activities in the Shire valley and Shire Highlands including the freeing of slaves, and were paid in guns, ammunition and cloth. The Makololo decided to remain in the Shire valley when the missionaries left in January 1864. [8]

After the 1864 departure of the UMCA mission, which left behind supplies of arms and ammunition, the Makololo maintained themselves by hunting elephants for ivory and attracted dependents seeking protection, many of whom were freed slaves. They and their armed dependents established chieftaincies in the present-day Chikwawa District. Originally, ten Makololo became chiefs or headmen and five Makololo chiefs still exist today.[9]

They appear to be named after Kololo, the wife of their first chief, Sebitwane. Another theory is that it is a Luyana word meaning "bald" referring to their conqueror's hairstyles.


  1. ^ Phiri, Bizeck J. (2005). "Lozi Kingdom and the Kololo". In Shillington, Kevin (ed.). Encyclopedia of African History, Volume II, H-O. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn (Routledge). pp. 851–852. ISBN 978-1-57958-454-2.
  2. ^ J. Ramsay, B. Morton, and T. Mgadla, Building a Nation: A History of Botswana from 1800 to 1910. Gaborone: Longmans, 1996, 66-8.
  3. ^ Moanaphuti Segolodi, "Ditso Tsa Batawana," 1940.
  4. ^ N. R. Bennett, (1970). David Livingstone: Exploration for Christianity in R. I. Rotberg (editor), Africa and its Explorers. Harvard University Press, p.42.
  5. ^ Gann, Lewis H.; Duignan, Peter (1999). Africa and the world: An introduction to the history of sub-Saharan Africa from antiquity to 1840. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. p. 413–414. ISBN 0-7618-1520-1.
  6. ^ T. Jeal, (2013). Livingstone: Revised and Expanded Edition, Yale University Press, pp. 93, 103–105.
  7. ^ J. McCracken, (2012). A History of Malawi, 1859–1966, Woodbridge, James Currey, pp. 39-41.
  8. ^ L. White, (1987). Magomero: Portrait of an African Village, Cambridge University Press, pp. 17, 39, 64-7.
  9. ^ J. McCracken, (2012). A History of Malawi, 1859–1966, Woodbridge, James Currey, pp. 41-2.