The term baTlôkwa (also baThlokoa, or Badogwa) refers to several Kgatla communities that reside in Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa, comprising both the followings of Tlôkwa kings and more particularly members of clans identified as Tlôkwa, or to individuals who identify themselves as of Tlôkwa descent. Most of the Batlôkwa clans trace their royal lineages to Kgwadi son of King Tabane, who is the father and founder of the Batlokwa nation, and have the Tlokwe-cat as their original totem which has since been extinct due to over-hunting for its fur that was used by chiefs.
The baTlôkwa kingdom form part of the larger group of baKgatla people, which itself is one of sub-divisions of the Bantu-speaking peoples. In addition to the Batswana or ‘Western Sotho’, the baKgatla group includes baPedi classification of Northern Sotho people. These different groups together are often falsely classified for convenience as ‘Sotho-Tswana’. From an early stage of their history, they shared a number of linguistic and cultural characteristics that distinguished them from other Bantu-speakers of southern Africa. Most prominent was mutually intelligible dialects. Other features included totemism, preferential marriage of maternal cousins with the exception to Batlokwa who prefer marrying their paternal cousins, and an architectural style characterised by a round hut with a conical thatch roof supported by wooden pillars on the outside. Other commonalities included a style skin cloaks called Mekgahla, dense and close village settlements larger than those of ‘Nguni’ peoples, and a tradition of building in stone in less grassy or wooded regions.
The history of the Sotho-Tswana people is one of continual dissension and fission where disputes, sometimes over kingship ascendancy, resulted in a section of the clan breaking away from the main clan, under the leadership of a dissatisfied king’s relative, and settling elsewhere. Often the name of the man who led the splinter group was taken as the new tribe’s name.
The traditions of the Sotho-Tswana people point to a northward origin, and indicate that their southward movement was part of the great migrations of the Bantu-speaking iron-age peoples. Usually the theory asserts that the Sotho-Tswana separated from other Bantu-speaking peoples in the vicinity of the Great Lakes of East Africa, and that they proceeded downwards along the western part of present-day Zimbabwe.
The traditions of the Barolong kingdoms indicate that at some time in the past they were all under the same ruling line of kings which claim descent from a common ancestor, Masilo. Following the death of Masilo there was a leadership crisis that resulted in the formation of the Hurutshe and Kwena clans. The baTlôkwa claim lineage from the Hurutshe clan and trace their early ancestry to Mokgatla (c1430) and Tabane (c1550).
Tabane fathered five sons, Diale (Matlaisane), Kgetsi, Kgwadi (moTlôkwa), Matsibolo, and Mosia. Each broke away to form Bapedi, Makgolokwe, baTlôkwa, Baphuti and Basia respectively. Eight generations later, from Kgwadi, Makoro fathered Mokotjo. Chief Mokotjo the father to Sekonyela died at an early age, so his mother, Manthatisi, was regent during his minority.