full name. Political leader Tawana Molema
life span. 1822-00-00 to 1882-01-00
Born c. 1822, died January 1882. Born in Khunwana during the difaqane period, Molema was the son of Kgosi Tawana of the Tshidi Barolong. He was brother, and close confidant, of Montshiwa, who later ruled over the chiefdom. During the time that the Tshidi Barolong resided at Thaba Nchu, where they found refuge during the difaqane, or period of turbulence in the 1820s, Molema was converted to Christianity by the Wesleyan missionaries based at Thaba Nchu. Molema's son and heir, Silas, was educated at Heraldtown college in the former Transkei.
Molema led an advance guard to scout out the area along the Molopo river in 1857. This was an environment known to them from having previously resided in nearby Khunwana. Molema settled at Mafikeng (known in its early years as “Molema’s town"), while the main body of the Barolong under Montshiwa followed. However, Montshiwa did not feel safe at Mafikeng, due to the close presence and rapacity of the Boers in the Transvaal, and led his followers to Moshaneng in the territory of the Bangwaketse in present-day Botswana. Molema remained at Mafikeng to ensure that the Barolong retained a presence there. Several of Montshiwa’s other brothers were also stationed at crucial sites in the proximity of the Molopo. Molema had on several occasions to use all his diplomatic skills to prevent Boer incursion and settlement near Mafikeng. Not surprisingly, he has been described as a man of "strong personality and exceptional gifts...and Montshiwa's chief counsellor in vital matters". (S.M Molema:35)
After negotiations with Molema, Montshiwa decided to return to Mafikeng in 1876. Molema was a firm believer in Western education, having attended Heraldtown, and opened a school for the Barolong once they had settled in the district. Molema became a farmer and businessman, between being advisor to his brother Mntshiwa. He died in 1882. One of his sons, Silas Molema, became a Doctor and historian of the Barolong. (see S.M. Molema).