This paper will examine the contemporary political climate of the Southern African country now known officially as the Republic of Botswana. For context, the study will compare colonial and postcolonial rule, and the effects they have had on shaping the country that exists today. To that end, the paper will first consider how Botswana originally came to be, and why the nation’s government has taken its current shape. The impact of English colonizers on the African country will be outlined, along with the subsequent development of new borders, and how those borders became defined. Next, the initiatives taken within Botswana to change the rule of government will be considered, along with a brief discussion on the results of each. Finally, the paper will analyze the themes and experiences born out of the transition from a colonial to postcolonial society — to include the impact of both societal and economic changes, globalization within Africa as a whole, as well as the broader phenomenon of neocolonialism that Botswana had to endure.
The Republic of Botswana — formally known as Bechuanaland Protectorate – was named after gaining its independence from Great Britain on September 30, 1966 under the leadership of Prime Minister Seretse Khama. The country has since been known for being one of Africa’s most stable countries today (Sebudubudu, 2011). Bechuanaland Protectorate was colonized by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Southern Africa and was established in 1885. and it was intended to be ruled directly from Britain. Botswana was once known to be a poor British protectorate known as Bechuanaland that was colonized in the later nineteenth century. The origin of Botswana’s name was derived from the Tswana people or Batswana “Bechuana”; and the national language of the country, then, which is called Setswana or also known as “Sechuana” (Parsons, 2018).
Since Botswana first gained their independence in the later 1960s, it has since become an international stature of what it is to be a successful rising country that was once known to be one of the poorest and famish. Not at its’ lowest but it was also known to be a lower-middle income level country in Africa (News and Media Resources: United Nations, 2003). It has since obviously blossomed into a peaceful and increasingly prosperous developing country; that others surrounding it aspire to be like. Although Botswana is a landlocked country, it has continuously prospered from their natural resources into one of the fastest growing economies in the world (Ntsabane, 1999).This new prosperity has come to be has been based primarily and most commonly known on the mining of their popular diamonds and other natural minerals and materials which have been known to prosper the country’s revenue. Even though today Botswana is one of Africa’s most stable countries; it is also known now to be the continent’s longest continuous multi-party democracy — although, it has not always been presented to be such. (News and Media Resources: United Nations, 2003)
The actual extent of which Bechuanaland Protectorate’s subordination to the interests of South Africa was truly revealed during a ‘scandal’ so to speak in 1950. In a situation that grew to become so critical to cause a grand political controversy in Britain and the Empire, as well as draw so much attention for the reason that the British government concluded on the decision to have Seretse Khama barred; which ended him up becoming exiled for six years (Ganahl, 2013). This, as new evidence was discovered, the information has since proven to be true from what was always expected — that in order to satisfy the South African government which objected to Seretse Prime Minister Khama’s marriage to a British white woman known as Ruth Williams; who he had met while studying law in London, the country had complied with their demands to have him exiled. The relationship between the two unfortunately developed at a time when racial segregation was being reinforced in Southern Africa under apartheid — which was known in South Africa as a policy of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race (Dalamba, 1999). Upcoming to the years of Botswana’s independence from the British, it quickly became very clear that Bechuanaland Protectorate could no longer be handed over to South Africa, and the country must develop towards its own reliable way for political and economic self-sufficiency. (Jeppesen, 2017)
President Sir Seretse Khama was born the son to Sekgoma II who was the king of the Bamangwato people of Bechuanaland. Prime Minister Khama is notoriously known for the founding of the Botswana Democratic Party before the country had gone on and officially gained their independence in 1962. He became the Prime Minister in 1965 of Bechaunaland after returning to his home country after being exiled, on his return, Khama was supposed to still be banned from inheriting the kingship, could only return contingent on being able to return strictly as a private citizen, and fortunately shortly afterwards; President Khama led his country into independence movement in the following year, and was elected as the Republic of Botswana’s first president, who also was elected for two additional terms (Britannica, 2018) . Throughout Sir Khama’s presidency, the country rapidly showed economic growth as well as social progress. When the internal self-government was introduced in 1965, he finally and deservingly takes his place at last at the head of his nation with Ruth by his side, serving as Botswana’s first lady. Botswana’s governmental system today follows a republican and presidential variant of primarily the postcolonial constitution that came to be modeled after Great Britain —, the constitution came into effect when the Republic of Botswana gained its’ independence in 1966 and Khama was officially the president. (Maundeni, 2005)
Of course, we understand that all countries are multicultural in one way or another, but at the same time, they are not all linked to a globalized culture like Southern Africa was. But the recognition of multiculturalism in Botswana has been blocked, until the later 1990s, by the need to develop a unifying national culture. (Solway, 2002)That national culture is based largely upon Setswana (Tswana language) culture. It represents the growth of the particular Botswana nationality defined within the state’s borders, and embraces elements of postcolonial English culture. The government inevitably developed, and now, the Republic of Botswana is a unitary state with a multi-party parliamentary system, an executive presidency, and executive machinery dominated by a cabinet of ministers chaired by their very own president (Solway, 2002). An example how independent Botswana has exhibited strong elements of democracy — their own accountability of government to the electorate through regular free elections held every five years.
The first census for Botswana was released in 1964. The total population recorded at the time was estimated to be at about around 550,000 people; with 35,000 considered to be absentees – and mostly known as the adult male workers in South Africa (Parsons, 2018). Since then, the population has only shown to be consistently growing — striving at about 3.4 percent a year. Therefor exceeding a population of one million people shortly after 1980, and then proceeding to double that every twenty years (Affairs, 2018). Meanwhile the rate of labor migration abroad has been declined by a combination of restrictions that were implemented by South Africa which has increased the employment opportunities at home. Botswana has also provided a home and eventual citizenship for a number of refugees as well; between the 1950s and the 1970s – from Angola, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and most recently Namibia which played a strategic role when it came to the statistics of a population census. (Garrett, 2005)
Botswana is a country to give credit to. The story of the economy from beginning to post-independence is one shows proof in progress of how the country has come from being one the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income status; considered globally. The Republic of Botswana was a direct result of the establishment of European, but specifically Dutch and English colonial rule in 1885. Few observers would have predicted the country to be successful future for the new state. But, after all the hurdles the Botswana has overcome, it has proven again to be a resilient, relentless country. Unavoidably impressed by Botswana’s exemplary record of their economic growth and their overall development, with strides in their improvement with the educational system and crucially their health system, which proves to be so important for so many citizens.