Lebowa was a bantustan ("homeland") located in the Transvaal in northeastern South Africa.[3] Seshego initially acted as Lebowa's capital while the purpose-built Lebowakgomo was being constructed. Granted internal self-government on 2 October 1972 and ruled for much of its existence by Cedric Phatudi, Lebowa was reincorporated into South Africa in 1994. It became part of the Limpopo province. The territory was not contiguous, being divided into two major and several minor portions.[4]

Flag of Lebowa
Coat of arms of Lebowa
Coat of arms
Location of Lebowa (red) within South Africa (yellow).
Location of Lebowa (red) within South Africa (yellow).
Common languagesNorthern Sotho
Chief Minister 
• Self-government
2 October 1972
• Re-integrated into South Africa
27 April 1994
1980[1]24,540 km2 (9,470 sq mi)
• 1980[1]
• 1991[2]
CurrencySouth African rand
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Republic of South Africa
Republic of South Africa

Even though Lebowa included large swathes of Sekukuniland[5] and was seen as a home for the Northern Sotho speaking ethnic groups such as the Pedi people, it was also home to various non-Northern Sotho speaking tribes, including the Northern Ndebele, Batswana and VaTsonga.


The name "Lebowa" is an archaic spelling of the Northern Sotho word "leboa" which means "north". The name was chosen as a compromise between the various Northern Sotho groups for which it was designed.


The North Sotho National Unit was founded on 1 June 1960 in pursuance of separate development. It was created to be a homeland for Northern Sotho peoples such as Bapedi, Batlokwa, Babirwa, Banareng, Bahananwa, Balobedu, Bakone, Baroka, Bakgakga, Bahlaloga, Batau, Bakwena, Baphuthi, Batlou and many others. On 2 October 1972 it was granted internal self-governance and renamed Lebowa.[6] Beginning in the 1950s through to the 1970s, thousands of people were forcibly removed from their communities and relocated to Lebowa.[7]

The first black leader of the territory was Mokgoma Maurice Matlala who was handpicked by the apartheid authorities. He first led the North Sotho National Unit as its Executive Chief Councillor from August 1969 to 2 October 1972 at which point he became the Executive Chief Minister of Lebowa. The following year of 1973 on 3 May Mokgoma's Lebowa National Party lost the first elections of the homeland to the Lebowa People's Party and Dr. Cedric Phatudi took over. He went on to win two more re-elections in 1978 and 1973 but died in his third term in 1987.[8] ZT Seleka was announced as the interim leader of the homeland. After elections, Mogoboya Nelson Ramodike became the Executive Chief Minister until 1989 when the office became the Prime Ministry.[9]

On 24 April 1994 Nelson Ramodike resigned and the homeland had no active administration until 27 April when it was reintegrated into South Africa.

The overwhelming majority of its territory became part of the newly formed province of the Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo) and a smaller portion formed the newly created Eastern Transvaal province (now Mpumalanga).

Institutions of Higher EducationEdit

Districts in 1991Edit

Districts of the province and population at the 1991 census.[2]

  • Namakgale: 55,441 (LEB-13)
  • Bolobedu: 196,669 (LEB-7)
  • Sekgosese: 124,425 (LEB-10)
  • Bochum: 149,869 (LEB-11)
  • Mokerong: 446,155 (LEB-3)
  • Seshego: 302,676 (LEB-4)
  • Thabamoopo: 353,193 (LEB-1)
  • Nebo: 324,909 (LEB-5)
  • Sekhukhuneland: 404,335 (LEB-2)
  • Naphuno: 167,665 (LEB-8)
  • Mapulaneng: 215,250 (LEB-12)
  • Botlokwa (LEB-10)
  • Moutse District (LEB-9?)

Moutse district was seized from Lebowa in 1980 and was, despite violent resistance, officially integrated into KwaNdebele.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sally Frankental; Owen Sichone (1 January 2005). South Africa's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. ABC-CLIO. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-57607-674-3. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Census > 1991 > RSA > Variable Description > Person file > District code". Statistics South Africa - Nesstar WebView. Archived from the original on 19 June 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  3. ^ https://global.britannica.com/place/Lebowa
  4. ^ "Lebowa | historical region, South Africa | Britannica". www.britannica.com.
  5. ^ "Sekhukhuneland - Images | Greg Marinovich Photography". gregmarinovich.photoshelter.com.
  6. ^ "South African Homelands".
  7. ^ Mokgoatšana, Sekgothe; Mashego, Goodenough (17 November 2020). "Why our ancestors never invented telescopes". HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies. 76 (4). doi:10.4102/hts.v76i4.6116. ISSN 2072-8050. S2CID 228866373.
  8. ^ "Lebowa". South African History Online. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  9. ^ "South Africa - Bantustans". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  10. ^ Cock, Jacklyn; Nathan, Laurie (1989). War and Society: The Militarisation of South Africa. New Africa Books. ISBN 9780864861153.

Coordinates: 24°18′26″S 29°34′45″E / 24.30722°S 29.57917°E / -24.30722; 29.57917