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Botswana in Depth: A Peace Corps Publication

Botswana in Depth: A Peace Corps Publication published on

Authored by Peace Corps

By about 1700, the ancestors of today’s Batswana (citizens) were established as self-sufficient herders, farmers, and hunters. Their first contact with Europeans was through missionaries in the early 19th century. After hostilities broke out between the Batswana and expansionist Afrikaners from South Africa in the last quarter of that century, the tribal chiefs asked the British for assistance. The British responded and, in 1885, proclaimed a protectorate in what was then called Bechuanaland. They retained colonial control until 1966. Bechuanaland played a prominent role in the British penetration of Central Africa in the 19th century. Cecil Rhodes called the region the “Suez Canal to the north” and considered it vital to his plans for territorial expansion. British interests in Bechuanaland were primarily strategic, and internal affairs were handled with more or less benign neglect.

Under British authority, local tribal governments were allowed to continue, with chiefs retaining much of their authority. With the establishment of separate advisory councils representing Africans and Europeans in 1920, the evolution of modern self-government began. In 1951, a joint advisory council was formed, consisting of both European and African members. Over the years these advisory bodies were consulted on a constantly expanding range of matters.

By 1964 the British were prepared to accept a system of internal self-government. Seretse Khama, the British educated heir to the chieftainship of the Bangwato (which he forfeited) and a former enemy of the British Empire, was elected as the first prime minister and, subsequently, first president. He is revered for his nonpartisan politics and for leading the country to full independence in 1966. Botswana has had orderly presidential transitions, beginning with Quett Ketumile Masire, who followed Khama, then Festus Mogae, and currently Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama (son of the first president), who took office on April 1, 2008.

Publication Date:
Sep 12 2014
1502347946 / 9781502347947
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
Travel / General


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