SeTswanaShow more SeTswana, literally ‘serfs’, ‘servants’, ‘inferior people’ (singular molala).
(The) members of a dispossessed and impoverished Khoisan hunter-gatherer people living in a relationship of servitude to the Batlhaping. Also attributive.
As is the case with many names of peoples and groups in South African English, this word has been found only in plural uses; however, it may be that it has also been used in unrecorded singular forms.
1846R. MoffatMissionary Labours 2Connected with each of the towns among that people, there are great numbers of what are called ‘Balala,’ poor ones, who stand in the same relation to the Bechuanas as the Bushmen formerly stood in to the Hottentots, and whose origin doubtless was of the same nature.
1907W.C. ScullyBy Veldt & Kopje 202The spoil was handed over to the ‘Balala’ — ‘the people who are dead’ — wretched outlaws or waifs of annihilated clans, who wandered, weaponless and without clothing, over the veldt.
1908J.M. OrpenReminisc. 124The inhabitants of the Kalahari are mainly Balala, who are impoverished Bechuana people and, in a measure, in servitude to Bechuana chiefs, who partly use them to collect furs and skins for them.
1986P. MaylamHist. of Afr. People 46The Tlhaping were known to have taken into clientage Balala hunter-gatherers. The Balala were expected to supply labour for the Thlaping, who in turn gave the Balala a chance to create their own herds by supplying them with cattle.
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