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Home » Columns » A Vision 60 Year’s Young

A Vision 60 Year’s Young

Publishing Date : 04 April, 2018

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA



On the eve of our fifth President’s inauguration one is reminded of remarks delivered by Seretse Khama in April 1958, when for the first time he attended and rose to speak at a meeting of the Joint Advisory Council, a body then dominated by a handful of dikgosi and white settlers.


Opposing some in the Council who were attracted to the possibility of the Bechuanaland Protectorate joining the then white settler dominated Central African Federation, Seretse affirmed:


“I think it is time that we ourselves in Bechuanaland, who neither belong to the Union of South Africa nor the Federation, or any other part as far as I can see, except Great Britain, should try to formulate a policy of our own which is probably unique to us. And that is a policy, perhaps, of even teaching those countries who profess to be more advanced than ourselves, that in as far as administration and race relationships they have more to learn from us than we from them.


“I must say, quite frankly that I have been rather disturbed to find that on the whole there is a tendency to look always over our shoulders. Perhaps I am wrong, if so I stand corrected. We want to see what is happening elsewhere instead of getting on with what we know is peculiar to us and to the country itself.


“We should get on and have no fear that we may incur someone's displeasure, as long as what we do is internationally accepted. And if we are right I am afraid emotion must come into this; we should not bother very much with what anyone might say. We have ample opportunity in this country to teach people how human beings can live together.” Following Seretse’s intervention the proposal to enter into talks with the Federation was abandoned. Life magazine photo by Margaret Bourke-White: Seretse Khama addressing Serowe Kgotla in 1950.

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