As a child, Maboe Ditlhale, pictured, recalled the old apartheid days when he and his fellow villagers were dropped off on a piece of land by military trucks after they were forcefully removed from their lustrous land in the Barokologadi village by the then government.
It all began with a white man coming to this North West province village in the 1940s requesting to see the Barokologadi chief, said 75-year-old Ditlhale.
“The white man was shown the chief and he told the chief: ‘hierdie plek is nie vir k****rs nie [this place is not for k****rs]’.
“He wasn’t taken seriously. But after a long while, he returned and said those words again. I remember us having to pack and we were moved.”
Ditlhale relates this sitting in his home in DeBrak, one of the four villages – with Pitsedisulejang, Maretlwana and Obakeng – established by the Barokologadi people after they were removed from their 26 000 hectares of land.
In 2007, 11 years after they first made a land claim, then land affairs minister Lulama Xingwana officially handed back the ancestral land to the Barokologadi ba ga Maotoe.
With glee in his eyes, Ditlhale remembers how his community packed buses to go witness the big hand-over ceremony.
Despite getting their land back, of which 16 000 hectares was inside the Madikwe Game Reserve, the Barokologadi people decided not to settle on the land but to use it for ecotourism to benefit the entire community.