Original Research

Chieftaincy and resistance politics in Lehurutshe during the apartheid era

Arianna Lissoni
New Contree | Vol 67 | a291 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/nc.v67i0.291 | © 2024 Arianna Lissoni | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2024 | Published: 30 December 2013

About the author(s)

Arianna Lissoni, Department of Historical Studies, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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This article focuses on the politics of chieftaincy in Lehurutshe, a rural region in South Africa’s North West Province, in the second half of the twentieth century. This was a period of profound social and political restructuring in the South African countryside. The imposition of Bantu Authorities, the extension of passes to African women and the deposition of Kgosi Abram Ramotshere Moiloa by the white authorities in 1957 sparked a popular struggle of resistance (better known as the Zeerust uprising or the Hurutshe revolt) that engulfed Lehurutshe in the late 1950s. The article analyses the establishment of a new political order in the aftermath of this period of resistance. It goes on to examine the attempted revival of the institution of chieftaincy by Lucas Mangope’s Bophuthatswana bantustan in the period from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. The paper ends with the onset of another period of intense struggle over the incorporation of the “black spot” villages of Lekubu (or Braklaagte) and Mokgola (or Leeuwfontein) into Bophuthatswana in 1989. Like the Zeerust uprising of 1957-1959, the anti-incorporation struggle of 1989-1994 points to the complex and continued intersection of local political struggles for authority with liberation politics – crucially articulated through the institution of the chieftaincy - during periods of contestation over local resources.


Rural resistance; Chieftaincy; Anti-incorporation; Abram Moiloa; Bophuthatswana; Lehurutshe; Zeerust uprising; Lucas Mangope


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