Mafeking was originally the headquarters of the Barolong tribe of Bechuana and is still their largest station, the native location (pop. 2860) being about a mile distant from the town.
About 1800 the country was occupied by various tribes of Bechuana, such as Batau, Basuto, Baputi, who then possessed the greater part of what is now Orange River Colony.
To the quarrels between Basuto and Boers were added interminable disputes between the Basuto and other Bechuana tribes, which continued unabated after the proclamation of British sovereignty over the Orange river regions by Sir Harry Smith in 1848.
A second and larger species is the brindled gnu or blue wildebeest (C. taurinus or Catoblepas gorgon), also known by the Bechuana name kokon or kokoon; and there are several East African forms more or less closely related to the latter which have received distinct names.
Here it bends south again, and with many a zigzag continues its general westerly direction, crossing the arid plains of Bechuana, Bushman and Namaqualands.
After that event Basuto entered the country from the south, Bechuana from the west and Swazi, Zulu, Shangaan and other tribes from the east and south-east.
The Bechuana, who number 64,751, are almost confined to the western and south-western districts.
Next, numerically, to the Basuto and Bechuana peoples are the tribes known collectively as Transvaal Kaffirs, of whom there were 159,860 enumerated at the 1904 census.
Into these depopulated areas there was also a considerable immigration of Basuto, Bechuana and other Bantu tribes.
Pretorius alleged that by this means the natives were obtaining firearms. At the same time the Transvaal Boers claimed that all the Bechuana country belonged to them, a claim which the British government of that day did not think it worth while to contest.
The Barolong, Bakwena and other Bechuana tribes, through whose lands the " lower road " ran, claimed however to be independent, among them Sechele (otherwise Setyeli), at whose chief kraalKolobeng - Livingstone was then stationed.
Barolong numbered 37,998 and other Bechuana 5115.
The majority of the inhabitants appear to have been members of the Bechuana division of the Bantus, but in the valleys of the - Orange and Vaal were Korannas and other Hottentots, and in the Drakensberg and on the western border lived numbers of Bushmen.
Moshesh, a Bechuana chief of high descent, had welded together a number of scattered and broken clans which had sought refuge in that mountainous region, and had formed of them the Basuto nation.
BECHUANALAND (a name given from its inhabitants, the Bechuana, q.v.), a country of British South Africa occupying the central part of the vast tableland which stretches north to the Zambezi.
The natives, in addition to the Bechuana tribes, include some thousands of Bushmen (Masarwa).
The wealth of the Bechuana consists principally in their cattle, which they tend with great care, showing a shrewd discrimination in the choice of pasture suited to oxen, sheep and goats.
The tribal organization of the Bechuana is maintained, and native laws and customs, with certain modifications, are upheld.
The first regular expedition to ry penetrate far inland was in 1801-1802, when John (afterwards Sir John) Truter, of the Cape judicial bench, and William Somerville - an army physician and afterwards husband of Mary Somerville - were sent to the Bechuana tribes to buy cattle.
The Rev. John Campbell, one of the founders of the Bible Society, also travelled in southern Bechuanaland and the adjoining districts in 1812-1814 and 1819-1821, adding considerably to the knowledge of the river systems. About 1817 Mosilikatze, the founder of the Matabele nation, fleeing from the wrath of Chaka, the Zulu king, began his career of conquest, during which he ravaged a great part of Bechuanaland and enrolled large numbers of Bechuana in his armies.
Largely as the result of the work of Moffat (who reduced the Bechuana tongue to writing), and of other missionaries, the Bechuana advanced notably in civilization.
At the time of the first contact of the Bechuana with white men the Cape government was the only civilized authority in South Africa; and from this cause, and the circumstance that the missionaries who lived among and exercised great fluence over them were of British nationality, the connexion between Bechuanaland and the Cape became close.
A small police force continued to occupy the district until April 1881, but, ignoring the wishes of the Bechuana and the recommendations of Sir Bartle Frere (then high commissioner), the home government refused to take the country under British protection.
He found very little difficulty in negotiating with the various Bechuana chiefs, but with the Boers he was not so successful.
Khania and two other Bechuana chiefs came to England and protested against this arrangement.
The Bechuana were entirely unaffected by the Kaffir rebellion in Natal.
At the age of seventeen Paul found himself an assistant field cornet, at twenty he was field cornet, and at twenty-seven held a command in an expedition against the Bechuana chief Sechele - the expedition in which David Livingstone's mission-house was destroyed.
At first the encroachments on Bechuana territory by Boers from the Transvaal were looked upon with comparative indifference.
The town was founded in 1819, and in its early days was largely resorted to by Griquas and Bechuana for the sale of ivory, skins and cattle.
The Kaffir and Bechuana tribes numbered 1,114,067 individuals, besides 310,720 Fingoes separately classified, while 279,662 persons were described as of mixed race.
In 1820 Moffat and his wife left the Cape and proceeded to Griqua Town, and ultimately settled at Kuruman, among the Bechuana tribes living to the west of the Vaal river.
The coloured inhabitants are mostly Bechuana and Basuto.