Mochudi is the main village for Bakgatla tribe whose totem is a monkey. Bakgatla who migrated from present day South Africa in 1871 to escape Boer encroachment of their lands, settled at the base of Phuthadikobo Hill and along the Ngotwane River.
Like most major villages in Botswana, Mochudi is a mixture of old and new, traditional and modern, as is best seen through changing architectural preferences in housing. The main attraction in Mochudi is the Phuthadikobo Museum which is perched at the top of a hill and holds a rich history of Bakgatla tribe and Batswana in general. Its collection of historical photographs shows women making pottery, blacksmiths operating bellows, chiefs making rain, houses being decorated, and boys’ and girls’ initiation rites. Artifacts include pottery, basketry and other traditional utensils, weaponry, as well as Regent Isang’s rain-making pots.
Recognised by large logs set vertically in the ground in a semicircle, is the village meeting place and customary court, a focal point of the village. Nearby is a stonewalled enclosure where stray cattle and/or cattle that are being disputed, are kept. Two Kgatla chiefs, Kgosi Linchwe Khamanyane Pilane (who ruled between 1875 and 1924) and Kgosi Molefi Kgafela Pilane (who ruled between 1929 and 1958) are buried here. Also nearby are two traditional rondavels, beautifully maintained, and good examples of how village housing once looked.
The building was originally a school built by Regent Isang Pilane in 1921. It was the first school in Botswana to offer secondary education and became a museum in 1976. It has steadily expanded its stock of artifacts and historical photographs. It holds a number of fascinating photographs donated by Professor Isaac Schapera, the world-renowned anthropologist who chronicled in meticulous detail the life and culture of the Batswana, and the changes rapidly taking place in their lives in the 20th century, nearly up to his death in the year 2000. There is a small shop in the Museum selling local arts and crafts, and silkscreen products made there.
Another building of interest is the Deborah Retief Memorial Church, administered by the Dutch Reformed Mission, located just after the turn-off to the kgotla. This was built by the Bakgatla in 1903 and is still in use today.
The Pilane Leatherworks, situated near the railway tracks crossover, near the Francistown Road, produce sturdy and long-lasting leather shoes, sandals, purses and handbags.