Segarona Heritage Experience

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The Segarona Heritage Experience is located in the North Western part of the North West Province of South Africa. The route was developed to link the two parks in the region, namely the Pilansberg National Park and the Madikwe Nature Reserve. The name ‘Segarona Heritage Experience’ emphasizes the rich and diverse heritage in the area. The word ‘segarona’ is a seTswana word meaning heritage, which is fitting as the area is abound with Tswana culture and history.

The Segarona Heritage Experience can be accessed from Botswana’s capital, Gaborone or from Lobatse at Skilpadshek, a route that saw many fleeing the country during apartheid. Most of the route area is made up of rural villages and pre-urban settlements where visitors can stop and interact with the local communities and experience their hospitality. The route forms a triangular shape, connecting the major tourism hubs of the Pilanesberg through the Bakgatla territory and connects with Madikwe Nature reserve. Derdepoort and Zeerust, the gateway into Botswana and other African Countries complete the triangle at Groot-Marico, where it connects with the Pilanesberg.

The route stretches from the Pilanesberg complex of the Moses Kotane Local Municipality in the Bojanala district to the world-renowned Madikwe Game Reserve where the annual Heritage Park walk takes place. With both the Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Nature reserve being malaria free and Big 5 territories, the route has lots to offer nature enthusiasts. The documented history of the route area dates back to the arrival of Voortrekkers in the 1800's, including their conflicts with local tribes over land and the way missionaries influenced the local people of the area. During the liberation struggle the area was used as a gateway to exile for many liberation heroes. The villages connected by this route are rich in the struggle history and also hosted some of the current leaders of our country. Clans found along the route include the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, Bakwena Ba Morare, Baphalane, Bakubung, Batlhako, Bapo Ba Mogale, Batlhako Ba Matutu, Baphiring, Amahlubi. All are Batswana tribes except for the Amahlubi who moved to the area from the Eastern Cape in Alice in search for better grazing land.

The route offers a range of attractions from the luxury of Sun City to the luxurious five-star game lodges in Pilanesberg and Madikwe. There are many other options for accommodation on the route however, including bush tented camps, guesthouses and lodges to fit any budget.


The climate of the route area is characterised by well-defined seasons with hot summers and cool sunny winters. The rain season usually occurs from October to March. Indigenous vegetation along the routes ranges from thornveld and bushveld to savannah grasslands. The plant life of the Segarona Heritage Experience is equally diverse ranging from the rare Aloe peglerae in the mountain areas, a rich variety of grasses on the central plains and numerous arid adapted plants and acacias. The unique dolomitic ecosystems such as the Groot Marico Eyes are home to several varieties of indigenous fish such as kurpers and aquatic invertebrates such as caddis and mayflies and seed shrimps that are found nowhere else in the world.

Birdlife of the savannah plains abounds and the numerous species attracted to the seasonally inundated pans contribute to the rich avian diversity of the route area. Vultures and other birds of prey can be seen within the route’s nature parks while a wide variety of mammals are found in the route’s reserves and protected including leopard, rhino, lion, elephant, buffalo and roan and sable antelope. A number of reptile species are found in the province, including the African rock python and black mamba.

A number of town offer visitor’s basic services and amenities and the more noteworthy of these include:


Mogwase is a fast developing town because of the rapid growth of the platinum industry in the North West, but aside from this, it lies close to two of the major tourist attractions in the North West province. It lies in the Moses Kotane local municipality that is almost completely rural. The municipality is part of the Bojanala District Municipality. The Moses Kotane Municipality covers an area of approximately 5220km² and is mostly rural in nature, comprising of 107 villages and two two formal towns of Mogwase and Madikwe. The N4 Corridor which is the east-west bound road connecting Rustenburg and Pretoria runs to the south of Moses Kotane local municipality. The N4 connects the province to Botswana and Gauteng. The R510 north-south bound road connects Moses Kotane Local Municipality to mining towns of Northam and Thabazimbi in Limpopo.

Mogwase lies next to two major tourism attractions - the Pilanesberg National Park and the world renounced Sun City complex. The town offers abundant accommodation and entertainment facilities.

Groot Marico:

Groot Marico takes its name from the nearby Madikwe River, corrupted by the first Voortekkers in the area into Marico. The Afrikaans word Groot (Big), as locals quickly point out, has nothing to do with the town’s size, but refers to the river. The region was occupied by the Mangope faction of the baHurutshe, who established a town at Borutwe, or Mangope’s siding. Their territory encompassed the Groot Marico River Valley. In the 1850s this faction of the baHurutshe opted to migrate out of the South African Republic and settled with the independent baTswana in what became firstly Bechuanaland and later Botswana. This was partly due to the exactions of the Boers, who had taken up residence in the fertile lands of the Groot Marico valley. This valley and the irrigable lands within it, allowed for the later cultivation of tobacco, citrus fruits and lucerne.

The town was founded on a farm Wonderfontein owned by Francois Joubert and situated on the N4 between Swartruggens and Zeerust, en-route to Botswana. Town status was granted in 1948 and its popularity may be credited to the famous South African writer, Herman Charles Bosman whose famous stories played off in this area. Consequently, Groot Marico has become virtually synonymous not only with the name of Bosman, but also with the area known as the Bushveld that straddles the area between Rustenburg and Zeerust in the North-West Province.

Attractions in Groot Marico:

Marico Bosveld Mile: 

The running, cycling and swimming events include an open water swim in the dam, a challenging but fun mountain bike event and a Cross Country marathon where the route takes you through the beautiful Marico bushveld. The sporting events are qualifiers for other major events.


Bosman Weekend:

An annual arts and culture festival which began in 1993 to celebrate one of South Africa’s best known authors - Herman Charles Bosman. The festivities, including dancers, musicians and poets, take place at the Herman Bosman Museum


The Eye of the Marico:

The Marico River is one of the few perennial rivers in this part of the country. The eye is a fountain (17m deep!) with the purest and cleanest water that you have ever seen. It is a favourite spot for scuba diving and camping. 

The Marico Bushveld Dam: Also known as Riekertsdam, this dam forms part of an irrigation scheme which provides farmers with water during the dry seasons. This dam is also used extensively for water sports like fishing, skiing, sailing etc. There is a well-equipped caravan and camping park right next to the dam.


Mampoer Farms:

Groot-Marico became famous for a special drink, called Mampoer. It is made from fruit and is also known as 'moonshine'. It is very high in alcohol content. The method of testing if the mampoer is strong enough is to put a match to it. If is burst into flames it is regarded well enough.




A commercial town situated in the Dr. Ngaka Modiri Molema district of the North West Province, the town lies in the Marico Valley, 240 km northwest of Johannesburg on the N4, the main road link between South Africa and Botswana. Mixed farming (cattle, wheat, maize, tobacco, citrus fruits) and mining of minerals (lead and chrome) are the backbone of the economy in the bushveld town of Zeerust. Tourism also employes lots of people in the game farms and nature reserves near the town. Built on a farm originally called Sefathlani/Sebatlani (meaning ‘dusty place’), which later changed to Hazenjacht then to Hazia/Hazea, belonged to Casper Hendrik Coetzee who bought it in 1858. He contracted Walter Seymour to construct a church but unfortunately died before the church was completed.  The church was named Coetzee-Rust (Coetzee's Rest). Diederik Jacobus Coetzee (Casper Coetzee’s cousin/brother-in-law) took over the farm and saw the potential of developing the farm into a town. The name Coetzee’s Rust later changed to Zeerust and municipal status was granted on 18 March 1936.


Attractions in Zeerust:

The central region is characterised by dense, uncultivated thorny bushveld vegetation. It borders southern Botswana and the arid Kalahari Desert of the Northern Cape. Fairly flat and dry in the west and more ‘bushy’ towards the east, the region offers opportunities for game viewing, bird-watching, hunting, sport, mampoer tours (Mampoer is a traditional alcoholic beverage with a high alcoholic content that is distilled from fruit), San rock art sites and cultural events. The cultivated land is mainly covered in fields of maize and sunflowers. The history of the area is fascinating, particularly to people interested in the Anglo-Boer War, fought between 1899 and 1902.

Other attractions include:

The church of St John the Baptist:

Built in 1873, this was the third Anglican Church in the country to be built north of the Vaal and it has been declareda national monument.

Ikalafeng Monument:

The monument was erected when a South African Government representative asked the Bahurutshe to demolish a fortification and pile the stones 5m high to form a monument of peace.

Kaditshwene (Place of the Baboons) Village Ruins:

The remains of the Hurutshe headquarters, confirming the occupation of this land by the Tswana from the early 1800's.

Kleinfontein Memorial:

Marking the site where Boers temporarily halted a relentless western advance by the British during the Anglo-Boer War. The British ended up losing almost ten times as many men as the Boers.

Livingstone Mission Lehurutshe:

Livingstone established his first African mission station here at Mabotsa. The house, church and dam built by him are visible as ruins. Located half a mile from the main road where a bronze plaque marks the spot.

Mosega Monument:

Commemorating the punitive raid against the Matabele at Zendelings Post in 1837. Dinokana Mission Station: The Dinokana Mission at Lehurutshe dates back to 1859. The station was established to serve the Bahurutshe people under Chief Moiloa. At the chief's request, the mission later served the community as both a church and a school.

Archaeology & Paleontology:

The Iron Age settlement at Marula Kop is located 50km north of Zeerust. The stone wall construction of the settlement still exists and there is evidence of iron smelting at the hill base.

Madikwe Game Reserve:

The name Madikwe means “Africa in its majesty”. This is truly an apt description for this glorious piece of Kalahari sandveld where more than 10 000 animals were reintroduced during Operation Phoenix to create one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. The 76 500 hectares of Madikwe encompasses a variety of eco-systems and lies 90km north of Zeerust. Madikwe was established in 1991 with the purpose of not only protecting our invaluable natural wildlife, but also allowing local communities to benefit from conservation and tourism projects. The game reserve boasts the Big Five, cheetah, Cape hunting dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, zebra and many species of antelope and herbivores.


Batswana - History and Cultural Relations:

New archaeological evidence continues to push the arrival of Bantu speakers into the Batswana area further back in time; it is now assumed that they arrived in south eastern Botswana around 600-700 AD, displacing, absorbing, and/or living among Khoisan foragers and pastoralists. Ancestors of Sotho speakers are believed to have been in the area by about 1200 AD, and by 1500 the major Batswana tribes/chiefdoms/nations began to form, through a process of fission and amalgamation of agnatic groupings, as they spread northward and westward from the Transvaal, in search of better watered pastureland.

A period of warfare, political disruption, and migration commonly termed the difiqane (Zulu: mfecane) characterised the first quarter of the nineteenth century. These wars have conventionally been attributed to the rise of the Zulu state and to the innovative forms of political and military organization of its leader, Shaka. The causes of the difiqane have become a subject of late twentieth-century debate; it is now argued that European trade and slaving initially precipitated the period of warfare. The difiqane engendered a period of chaos, during which Batswana polities experienced varying degrees of suffering, impoverishment, political disintegration, death, and forced movement. At the same time, however, some groups, particularly the western Batswana chiefdoms, eventually prospered and strengthened to the extent that they incorporated refugees and livestock.

Batswana polities are noted for their capacity to absorb foreign peoples, to turn strangers into tribespeople, and to do so without compromising the integrity of their own institutions. Socioeconomic mechanisms such as mafisa (which provided for the lending of cattle) and the ward system of tribal administration facilitated the integration of foreigners. Not all peoples were welcomed into the Tswana fold; some remained foreigners, and some became subjects. The latter category includes peoples of the desert (Bakgalagadi and Bushmen) who are accorded a servile status termed "Batlhanka" or "Boiata."

European traders and missionaries (of the British nonconformist sects) began to arrive in the Batswana region in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Trade (ivory, furs, and feathers being the most valued items) escalated after this period, and control over this trade dramatically empowered some Batswana chiefs, who were able to consolidate their control over extensive areas. By the mid-nineteenth century, Afrikaners, newly settled in the Transvaal, posed a threat to Batswana; Batswana chiefdoms acquired firearms to protect themselves, and many Batswana moved westward, into the area that is now Botswana. Christian missions were established throughout the region in the nineteenth century; today most Batswana profess to be Christian.

The discovery of diamonds and gold in the 1860's and 1870's in southern Africa led to the industrialization of South Africa and the introduction of the migrant-labour system, which continues to draw thousands of Batswana men to the mines (although recruitment from Botswana has been restricted since 1979). In 1885 the Bechuanaland Protectorate was established in the north of the region, and, in the south, British Bechuanaland was established as a Crown colony; ten years later it was annexed to the Cape.  In 1910 British Bechuanaland was incorporated into the Union of South Africa; in 1977, under the apartheid regime, the Tswana ethnic "homeland" of Bophutatswana was granted nominal independence by South Africa, but no other nation recognized it; in 1994, in conjunction with the first all-race elections in South Africa and the dismantling of apartheid, Bophutatswana was reincorporated into South Africa.



Kaditshwene(Place of the Baboons) Village Ruins – A National Heritage Site:

Kaditshwene is historically considered a capital of the Bahurutshe nation and the largest Batswana settlementin Southern Africa with a population of 16000 to 20000, around the early 1800's. The large population of Kaditshwene is evidenced by extensive settlement remains that include house foundations, stone walls, ash middens, as well as evidence of a metal working industry. The Kings enclosure is believed to be on the Bloemfontein farm.

The rugged, almost impenetrable bush of the northern Marico district conceals an archaeological wonder. Giving lie to Victorian beliefs that black people were incapable of building anything substantial, the Kaditshwene ruins are mute testimony to an advanced civilization.

The ruins are believed to be the largest Iron Age stone-built city in South Africa. In 1820 this city was larger than Cape Town. It was the manufacturing, trading and cultural capital of the Bahurutshebetween 1600 and 1823.

Settled communities throughout Southern Africa, mined iron, copper, tin andgold. They made metal tools, weapons and jewellery which they traded, together with other products across southern Africa and even as far as China via the Arab merchants of the east coast. Copper was mined throughout the region, including at the Melville koppies (hills) in Johannesburg and the North West Province. The different communities traded widely with the metals and most of them used it for manufacturing. When the Scottish missionary, Reverend John Campbell visited some of these communities in 1820, they told him of traders from across the ocean, who had long, straight hair. The Iron Age people were agro-pastoralists who had a sophisticated social system and lived in large stone-walled towns. They were the people who introduced an advanced civilised lifestyle to South Africa.


Moses M Kotane (Political Activist):

Born from a devout Tswana origin Christian family in 1905 in Tamposstad, Rusternburg district of Transvaal, Kotane was largely self-taught with only a few years of formal education. He was an insatiable reader and enrolled at a Communist-run night school in Johannesburg where he became known for his ability to master some of the most abstruse political writings. He started work at age 17 andtried his hand at many jobs including baking, domestic work, mining and photography.

He joined African National Congress in 1928 but disappointingly found it ineffective. In the same year he joined the African Bakers’ Union, an affiliate of the new Federation of Non-European Trade Unions then being built up by the Communist Party. In 1929 Kotane joined the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) and soon became both the vice-chairman of the trade union federation and a member of the party's political bureau, where he became a full time functionary in 1931. He was party to the start of Umsebenzi, a Communist paper then edited by Edward Roux. Because of his ability, Moses was offered an opportunity to go to the Soviet Union, so for a year in the early 1930s he studied at the Lenin School in Moscow.

In 1935, because of an ideological dispute with Lazar Bach, then chairman of the CPSA, Kotane was removed from the party's political bureau. He was later restored to his position, however, and in 1939 he became general secretary of the party, a post he continued to hold through the CPSA's subsequent phases of legality, illegality and exile.

In 1943 he was invited by A.B. Xuma to serve on the Atlantic Charter committee that drew up African Claims and in 1946 he was elected to the ANC national executive committee, a position he held until bans forced his nominal resignation in 1952. When the Communist Party was banned in 1950, Kotane moved from Cape Town, which had been the party's headquarters, to Johannesburg, where he opened a furniture business in Alexandra Township. He was one of the first to be banned under the Suppression of Communism Act, but he ignored his bans to speak in support of the Defiance Campaign in June 1952 and was arrested with one of the first batches of defiers.

In early 1963 he left South Africa for Tanzania, where he became the treasurer-general of the ANC in exile. In elections held in Tanzania in April 1969 he was returned to the national executive committee. He later suffered a stroke and went for treatment in Moscow, where he remained until his death in 1978.



History of the Royal Bafokeng Nation:

The listing of a platinum company of such magnitude is a rare event in South Africa, but what makes this particular listing unique is the history of the Bafokeng Nation.

In the 1860's, around the time diamond mining started in Kimberley, white farmers began to settle in the Rustenburg valley and register farms in their own names, ignoring the traditional rights of ownership enjoyed by the Bafokeng people for many centuries.  Fearing the seizure of Bafokeng land, Kgosi August Mokgatle - then king of the Bafokeng - realised the Bafokeng would need to purchase farms to retain property to which they were, in essence, already entitled.  Lacking funds, he ordered the young men of his tribe to make the trek to Kimberley to work in the diamond mines, bringing their savings home to be pooled in a community fund.

Legally prevented from acquiring property in their own name, the Bafokeng then sought the aid of Lutheran missionaries who would hold the title deeds on their behalf.  In this manner, the Bafokeng nation began to acquire property as early as 1869, and over the next 30 - 40 years amassed some 900 hectares in the region.  Over time the title deeds held by the missionaries were transferred to government to be held in trust for the Bafokeng nation as a collective.

Subsequently in the 1920's, geologist Hans Merensky discovered outcrops of the Bushveld Complex in the Rustenburg valley, and as luck would have it, a substantial portion of his ore body lay below land owned by the Bafokeng.

Over the next 70 years, there were several attempts to dispossess the Bafokeng of their land.  Mines were constructed and the extraction of PGM and other minerals took place.  Although the RBN contest that they were not paid sufficient royalties, they were able to retain their legal title and continued to acquire adjoining farms in the region.  In the late 1990's following the abolition of apartheid, the royalty structure was revised and the Bafokeng began to receive royalties of higher value.

Funds generated from the mines have been re-invested in the community and in their investment vehicle, Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH).  The Bafokeng have used their income to build schools, roads, clinics and other infrastructure in the region, while RBH has grown to a company managing some R30 billion in assets.

Suggested Reading List

Sue Brothers, Janet Hermans and Doreen Nteta (eds), Botswana in the 21st Century, The Botswana Society, Gaborone, 1994.

PL Breutz, The Tribes of the Rustenburg and Pilanesburg Districts, Department of Native Affairs, Ethnological Publication No. 28, 1953.

Alec Campbell, The Guide to Botswana, Winchester Press, Johanesburg 1980.

G Cuthbertson, A Grundlingh and M Suttie (eds), Writing a Wider War, Rethinking Gender, Race and Identity in the South African War, 1899-1902, Ohio University Press, Athens, David Philip, Cape Town, 2002.

Sandy and Elinah Grant, Decorated Homes in Botswana, Bay Publishing Pty. Ltd, Gaborone, Creda Press, Cape Town, 1995.

Sandy Grant, People of Mochudi 1960-1995, Phuthadikobo Museum, 2001.

Sandy Grant, Mochudi Around the Time of Independence, Phuthadikobo Museum, 2002.

Carolyn Hamilton (ed), The Mfecane Aftermath, University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, 1995.

Hartmut Herold, Historical Buildings in Botswana, Printcol, 2003.

Ashley Jackson, Botswana 1939-1945: An African Country at War, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1999.

Paul Kruger, The Memoirs of Paul Kruger, T Fisher Unwin, Cape Town, 1902.

Martin Legassick, The Sotho-Tswana peoples before 1800, in L Thompson (ed), African Societies in Southern Africa, Heinemann, London, 1969.

CJ Makgala, History of the Bakgatla-baga-Kgafela in Botswana & South Africa, Crink, Pretoria, 2009.

WL Maree, Uit Duisternis Geroep, Voortrekkerpers Bpk., Johannesburg, 1966.

Fred Morton, When Rustling was an Art, David Philip, Cape Town, 2009.

Neil Parsons, Botswana History Pages, 1999.

J Pistorius, Molokwane – An Iron Age Bakwena Village, Early Tswana Settlement in the Western Transvaal, Perskor Printers, Johannesburg, 1992.

Paul Mmolotsi Rantao, Setswana Culture and Tradition, Pentagon Publishers, Gaborone, 2006.

Isaac Schapera, The Tswana, KPI, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984 (1953).

Isaac Schapera, A History of the Bakgatlabaga Kgafela of the Bechuanaland Protectorate,
Phuthadikobo Museum, 1980 (1942).

N Swanepoel, A Esterhuysen and P Bonner (eds), Five Hundred Years Rediscovered, Southern African  Precedents and Prospects, Wits University Press, 2008.

Thomas Tlou and Alec Campbell, History of Botswana, Macmillan Boleswa, Gaborone, 1997.

Peter Warwick, Black People and the South African War 1899-1902, Ravan Press, Johannesburg, 1983.


Remarkable that Ancient City Resort is not mentioned or the website under usefull links as Ancient City are the only resort at the Kaditshwene Ruins with a Conservation Management Plan for tours to the Heritage site.

Jenny Langwieder on 9th of October, 2012 at 12:44.

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