(The Kingdon is located in the Rustenburg area. 120 km to the west of Johannesburg.)
The Royal Baokeng nation can thank one man in particular for its riches today: Kgosi Mokgatle, king of the Bafokeng in the late 19th Centuray.
During his reign the Boers, under the leadership 0f Paul Kruger, started registering property title deeds on Bafokeng ancestral land. Realising that a war would be futile, Kgosi Mokagle sent regiments of young men to work in the Kimberley diamond mines and with the help of Lutheran missionaries, used the proceeds to buy back the land.
The policy of land expansion continues to this day and is one the features of the Bafokeng.
Unlike other mining empowerment companies, the Bafokeng own the land on which mining opertions are taking place.
The 20th century brought its own challenges starting with the discovery of platinum on the Bushveld complex in 1925. The Bafokeng nation has since deallt with exploitation by mining companies mainly by what is now AngloPlat (since the 1920s) and Implats (since the 1960s)
Today the nations assets are worth about R30 -billion and are held on behalf of the 300 000 strong community. Instead of paying the dividends to individual community members, around R800-million is spent annually on social develoment projects including schools, clinics, road supply, sports facities and job creation projects.
The Sunday Times
written by Jana Marais.