THOUSANDS braved pouring rain to bid farewell to Kgosi Lucas Mangane Mangope who was buried in Motswedi, near Zeerust, in the Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality on Saturday.
Speakers at the funeral service remembered Mangope as a leader who was hardworking, respectable, caring, humble and God-fearing.
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo said Mangope was not perfect, but he did the best for the people during his time. “We know that Mangope was not all perfect, but he did the best for the people and even many who have moved to various other parts of the world with skills they acquired during his time.
“We will remember him for his good work. May he rest in eternal peace while those of us who are left will continue where he left off, especially in promoting our Setswana traditions,” he said.
Mangope was the president of the former bantustan Bophuthatswana and founder of the United Christian Democratic Party. He died on January 18, aged 94.
Two giant tents were erected at Mangope’s royal house Gaetsho and were filled to capacity, while the overflow of mourners stood outside alongside the road leading to the royal house.
Traditional leaders from as far as Botswana attended the funeral, as did Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota, African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe and former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.
Solomon Kgobokoe, a former minister of Mangope’s cabinet, worked with him for many years and said he loved education and agriculture as he believed that they would be imperative to fight poverty and unemployment in his communities.
“He was a true humble leader, a team worker who always believed in us as his team to deliver for our communities. “We have many good memories of things which happen under his government and many others that all can see, the legacy for this province,” he said.
Mangope’s son, Kwena Mangope, thanked the thousands of mourners, saying his father’s soul would indeed rest in peace. “When I saw the rain starting to pour this morning I thought many people will not come, but was later proven wrong. You all came to bid farewell to my father and just for that, thank you. “We are now comforted by just your coming here in large numbers to us. This confirms what my father meant to the people of this province and the many others whose lives were impacted by his leadership,” he said.
He also thanked the premier for visiting his father when he was sick and the provincial government for being there during his family’s difficult time. “I want to thank our premier and his government for the support during this difficult time and everyone who took time to be a part of bidding farewell to my father. “We will all miss my father, who did not only belong to us as the family but to the many other people in this province,” he said.
Mangope was born and raised in Motswedi village. He succeeded his father as chief of Ba hurutshe-BooManyane in the same village. In 1977, he became the president of the Bophuthatswana homeland until 1994, when homelands were incorporated into South Africa during the transition from apartheid to democracy.
The Ngaka Modiri Molema district council expressed its sadness on the passing of Mangope, saying he played a very important role in the development of the Batswana people.
“As the communities of Ngaka Modiri Molema, let us take the time to reflect and reconnect with the realities that God sent all of us to this land for a purpose. We need to acknowledge that, says Proverbs 3:6: ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path’,” district mayor Tshepo Makolomakwa said.