The Pedi people were organized by King Thulare into one of the strong African tribe in-between 1780 to 1820. Their land used to spread from present-day Rusternburg to the Lowveld in the West and as far South as the Vaal river. Their powers were undermined during the Mfecane, by the Ndwandwe armies who invaded the South-East part of their land. They had to move to other other places but Sekwati the son of Thulare united them again.
After Sekwati became a paramount Chief of the Pedi in Limpopo. He had been in conflict with the MaNdebele under Mzilikazi and robbed by the Zulus and AmaSwati.The Boers also gave him some tough times in terms of land control and labor since their arrival on the region. These conflicts over the land happened after the founding of Ohrigstad in 1845. After the incorporation of the town into the Transvaal Republic in 1857, the Republic of Lydenburg was established. From there, the agreement was reached that the Steelpoort River was the border between Boers and the Pedis.
It is said that the Pedis were well equipped in terms of self-defense. Sekwati and his son, Sekhukhune 1 managed to buy firearms through migrants labor to the Kimberley diamond fields and as far as Port Elizabeth. The Pedi Kingdom’s power was also strengthened by the fact that chiefs who were subjects of the kingdom took their great wives from the ruling house. The chiefs were required to pay to the ruling house bohadi (bride wealth) mostly in the form of cattle.
Sekhukhune 1 succeeded his father in 1861 and fought against the Swazi. He managed to push them back from his territory. At the same time there were disputes over the border of Transvaal. This dispute led to the formation of Burgersfort which was started by volunteers from Lydenburg. In 1870s, the Pedi’s were one of the three owners of regional authority with the Swazi’s and Boers.
When time went on, Sekhukhune was forced to pay tax to Transvaal government on which he refused. Boers declared war on him in May 1876. This war became known as Sekhukhune War where he defeated them. But the Boers volunteers did not give up they continued to devastate Sekhukhune’s land until there was peace agreement in 1877.
British took advantage of the ongoing unrest and decided to take control of Transvaal in April 1877 under Sir Theophilus Shepstone. In 1879, British declared War on Sekhukhune 1 under Sir Garnet Wosley and they managed to defeat him. Sekhukhune was made a prisoner of War in Pretoria, but he got released after the first Anglo-Boer war. Soon after his release, Sekhukhune was killed by his half-brother Mampuru .
There was no one to rule since his older son had been killed in the War and his grandson was still too young to rule. Kgoloko, one of his other half-brothers became a regent. In 1885, an area of 1 000 square kilometers was given to the Pedi people by the Transvaal Republic’s Native Location Commission. Later on the government of Apartheid segregation policy gave them the homeland of Lebowa.
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