Many mistakenly measure the wealth of the Bafokeng Nation in terms of its assets, the price of platinum, etc. After living in Phokeng, I now know that the Bafokeng Nation’s true wealth is in the strength of its people, the richness of its culture, and the legacy they have and are creating.
I had the fortunate opportunity of living in the Bafokeng Nation for 9 months as a Peace Corps volunteer supporting the Special Olympics. I was based in Phokeng to assist with the planning of the Special Olympics Africa Unity Cup that took place at Lebone College II in October 2012.
I arrived in Phokeng teeming with ambition. I wanted to use the skills I gained through my graduate studies and professional experiences to further the mission of Special Olympics in the North West and ultimately enrich the lives of South Africans in this region. I knew I had a lot to give, but didn’t fully realize how much I would take back to America with me and forever be changed.
The Bafokeng are rooted in the “men and women who walked to Kimberly to mine diamonds. The founding families who offered cattle and worked on nearby farms to help Kgosi Mokgatle buy the land. The men and women who defied the apartheid and homeland authorities and sacrificed for the larger goal of freedom from oppression and racism.”*
Similar to the extraction of platinum, it took time and some deep digging to unearth the authentic Bafokeng culture. Once I hit the core though, I witnessed a unique and proud community that is leveraging its ancestral values and history as a foundation to insure it is sustainably self-sufficient, to propel it into the future, to establish a standard of excellence, to create the next generation of great leaders, and to define its place in not just the North West or South Africa, but in the global community.
The Bafokeng not only taught me the significance of a well placed salutation, but the importance of reaching deep to go far beyond where others would ever imagine you could go.
*Kgosi, Royal Bafokeng Nation, Kgotha-Kgothe, 21 April 2012