Koena tribe

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The Bakoena or Bakwena ("those who venerate the crocodile") are a large clan in Southern Africa. They form part of the Sotho-Tswana Bantu people and can be found in different countries such as Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. Their main languages are Sesotho and Setswana.[citation needed]"Koena" ("Kwena") is a Sotho/Tswana word meaning "crocodile", the crocodile is also their totem (seboko).[1]

Genealogy and history[edit]

Earliest ancestor of the Koena tribe, Koena, was a grandson of Masilo I, the king of Bahurutse branch of the koena around AD 1360. Koena and his followers settled at Tebang, now called Heidelberg.[2] Around AD 1500, Bakoena started spreading in the region, from the Lekwa or Vaal river to Kalahari (Botswana).

Sotho line[edit]

  • Bokoena state under kgosikgolo (meaning paramount chief) Napo
  • Kgoshi (sotho word meaning chief) Motebang
  • Kgoshi Molemo
  • Kgoshi Tsholoane
  • Kgoshi Monaheng
  • Kgoshi Motloang
  • Kgoshi Peete
  • Kgoshi Mokhachane
  • Kgoshi Moshoeshoe

and it continues to the royal line of Lesotho.

Botswana line[edit]

Kgabo II led a small group of Bakoena and crossed the Marico river and founded a tribe on the lands of the Bakgatla tribe (whose totem was the blue monkey) which they drove away, modern day Botswana. As the result of a split, several tribes like the ngwato and ngwaketse were formed and settled in a circular way, with the paramount Kwena settling at Ntsoana-Tsatsi (mythical origin land of the sotho people) with the Bafokeng around AD 1580.[3]


  1. ^ Rosenberg, Scott; Weisfelder, Richard F. (13 June 2013). Historical Dictionary of Lesotho. p. 45. ISBN 9780810879829.
  2. ^ Eldredge, Elizabeth A. (2015). Kingdoms and Chiefdoms of Southeastern Africa: Oral Traditions and History ... p. 245. ISBN 9781580465144.
  3. ^ Schapera, I. (1980). "Notes on the early history of the Kwena (Bakwena-bagaSechele)". Botswana Notes and Records. 12: 83–87. JSTOR 40980796.