Pretoria - The SANDF Navy has announced plans to name a new state-of-the-art warship after King Sekhukhune, the first of the Bapedi nation, which is largely located in Limpopo.
The announcement was made by representatives of the South African Navy, who had made a courtesy visit to the Bapedi royal palace at Mabe Tjate III in Sekhukhune on Friday. They were received by the Queen Mother Manyaku Thulare.
The launch of the warship is expected to take place in Durban in June.
Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, the navy’s chief director for maritime strategy, Rear Admiral David Maningi Mkhonto, said the reason for the visit to the royal house was to request permission to use the name of King Sekhukhune I.
“This is an old tradition of the navy, and its an international standard to name our warships after our kings or queens. In this instance we saw the need to recognise King Sekhukhune I. King Sekhukhune I was outstanding in fighting his wars,” Mkhonto said.
“We already have warships named for some of our kings and queens. We have the SS King Shaka, SS Queen Modjadji, SS Charlotte Maxeke and others. Now we are arranging to launch SS King Sekhukhune,” Mkhonto said.
According to history, King Sekhukhune 1 was a paramount king of the Marota, commonly known as the Bapedi. He faced many challenges from the Boer settlers and the British, who wanted to occupy his land.
He and his kingdom fought two notable wars, called the Sekhukhune wars. In 1876, King Sekhukhune fought successfully against the Afrikaners and their Swazi allies. However, he was defeated by the British in his second war in 1879, and was detained in Pretoria until 1881 and returned to his people, but met his death at the hands of his half-brother.
An official from the Bapedi kingdom said the news made the Bapedi people proud.
He said: “This news is going to bring proper recognition to the Bapedi people, and that's why we are looking forward to the launch. We have received the news with warmth and excitement because it has never happened in our kingdom before. This is historical and will give pride to the Bapedi people.
“The navy came to the royal house to ask for blessings for renaming this warship, and to name it after King Sekhukhune. They also asked that the queen mother and the kingdom be involved in the preparations.
“This is befitting because King Sekhukhune I is recognised historically, and fought for the country against the British and the Boers.”