Why this Zambian queen gave up her throne for a normal family life in the 19th century

Queen MamochisaneQueens and Princesses from ancient Africa continue to be an inspiration for many Black women in the world. Their stories are unique but share one thing in common: many of them were very brave, bold and independent enough to make personal decisions as well as decisions that affected the kingdoms they ruled.

When given the opportunity, these leaders gave proof that, contrary to popular belief, African women did not need to solely depend on men but could take care of a whole kingdom in the same way they took care of their children and household.

One such leader was Queen Mamochisane of ancient Zambia, who led her people with grace when the responsibility fell at her feet and was not afraid to take decision for her own well being in the long run.

Mamochisane was born to the powerful King Sebetwane, the creator and ruler of Makololo Kingdom.

In the early 19th century King Sebetwane, who was then a chief over Bafokeng-ba-ga-Patsapeople, decided that he and his people were tired of being vulnerable and losing property under the larger Basotho tribe during the Mfecene. The Mfecene was a period in Southern Africa that witnessed much chaos causing several tribes to scatter and migrate.

Around 1823, Sebetwane and his subjects left their original home and migrated north, close to the southern border of Botswana. There, he led his warriors and defeated smaller tribes to create Makololo, which became a wealthy and prosperous kingdom with a strong army by the 1840s. He had several wives and children including Princess Mamochisane, her brothers Prince Sekeletu and Prince Mpepe.

Sebetwane was a kindhearted and warm king who had respect and love for all including people from tribes he had defeated. He developed a strong friendship with the Scottish missionary and physician David Livingston, who visited the kingdom frequently and became very familiar with all the king’s wives and children.

Unfortunately, on July 7 1851, King Sebetwane died and a dispute on which of his children would take over the throne ensued. While alive, he had lost his oldest son, Prince Kgwaanyane, who was killed in an ambush leaving Princess Mamochisane next in line even though she was a woman.

After a few more disputes, Princess Mamochisane took up the responsibility and was crowned the queen of the Makololo Kingdom. She followed well in her father’s footsteps, leading the warriors to defeat several smaller kingdoms, expanding it and remaining good friends with her father’s friends, including  David Livingston.

Mamochisane dealt with several internal issues such as the dispute between her half-brothers Sekeletu and Mpepe, both of whom wanted to be king. She also had to take several husbands to prevent one man on the throne having more power than her.

After two years in power, the Queen was tired of the disputes and alternating husbands, Her desire for a stable family and normal life increased as the days went by and led her to step down to have the freedom and privacy she craved.

Stepping down as the leader on the throne was generally unheard of in many ancient African societies and the Makololo Kingdom was no exception. Many tried to convince her to stay as queen but she insisted and stepped down, making her half-brother Prince Sekeletu the new king.

After stepping down, Queen Mamochisane went on to live a very private life until she married Prince Sipopa Lutangu of the Bulozi tribe, who later led the Lozi Revolution and became King of the Lozi people.

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