© 2018 Dr. M. Sheppard

Botswana Kanye Households People Lands Cattle-post Crafts

Maitimela - Lost Cattle

All the Maitimela Cattle are brought to Kanye during the month and kept at a large kraal by night and taken to water or graze by day by specially employed herdsmen. Then they are displayed up at the Chief's Kgotla in the cattle kraal and cattle owners from the whole of the tribal district who have lost cattle come ward by ward to look for their beasts among these Maitimela Cattle.

Owners are not allowed to take their found cattle away until they have paid all their taxes. After a month those Maitimela Cattle that are not claimed are taken to a Cattle-post beyond the village, at Kwakwe. Owners now have to pay an additional 10 thebe grazing fee for every extra day before they claim them. The remaining unclaimed cattle are then auctioned. Therefore it can happen that those who do not have cash to pay their taxes and grazing fee lose their cattle.

These poorer people are also those who are most likely to have cattle that have gone astray as they are less likely to hire people to look after them and, with the increasing popularity of education, those sons who would traditionally have been herdboys are now attending school, thus cattle of small cattle owners are often left for long periods to fend for themselves and frequently go astray.

The auctions of Maitimela Cattle are on the other hand  are certainly a cheap source of cattle for those with ready money.

It should be noted that as people come from all over the district to "spot" their lost cattle and whilst in Kanye stay with relatives, this is a time when kin separated at other times of the year are re-united.

The kraal where the Maitimela Cattle are kept at night is a very welcome source of boloko (cattle dung) at a time of the year when boloko  is very scarce in Kanye. As this is usually a dry time of the year, it can be a time for repairing houses and walls for those not at their Lands.

Every year around the end of April to May or June there is a round-up of Maitimela (lost) Cattle. Employees of the tribal administration visit each Cattle-post asking if the owners have found any cattle that are not theirs. (It should be noted that cattle theft is an extremely serious offence).

Some of the Maitimela (lost )cattle being taken out to be watered and graze from the Chief’s cattle kraal in the main kgotla

Entrance to the Chief’s cattle kraal at main kgotla. Some of the herdsmen who care for the Maitimela cattle