IN remembrance of Sir Seretse Khama, the founding president of Botswana, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has urged the southern African nation to cherish the values of unity, freedom and peace that he strived and stood for.
Seretse Khama, born on July 1, 1921 and died at the age of 59 following a short illness, has been described as a central cog in the liberation of Botswana who had an immeasurable contribution to the democratization of southern Africa.
‘The visionary leadership of Seretse Khama puts into perspective the undeniable prominent role and contribution of Botswana in the liberation struggle against the white settler domination,’ said Masisi Friday in his address on the occasion of Sir Seretse Khama Day commemoration in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.
Masisi said Botswana’s road to independence from being a British protectorate and the formative years of the southern African country were filled with the hardships of dehumanizing poverty and underdevelopment.
So staggering was the level of neglect by the British in their 70 years of colonial rule that well within the third anniversary of Botswana’s independence, Sir Seretse Khama observed in his statement to the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 1969 that Botswana was left in the humiliating position of not knowing many of the basic facts about Botswana on which development plans could be based, he said.
In essence, Masisi said Seretse Khama was graphically highlighting how the colonial education system that Batswana, the citizens of Botswana, received had prepared only a few of them for low-level literacy and academic skills.
He said the education system was woefully inadequate and irrelevant to the challenges and tasks of the administration that lay ahead of Seretse Khama’s government.
‘There were severely limited opportunities for the post-primary and post-secondary education in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, through which a set of higher order cognitive and practical skills as well as academically based knowledge could be attained,’ he said.
However, Seretse Khama, armed with the nationalist zeal and fortitude, could wrestle with the challenging landscape following the landslide ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) victory in the 1965 general elections, according to Masisi.
Dr. Boga Manatsha, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Botswana, said Friday Seretse Khama personified an unyielding spirit and interminable fortitude in the exercise of his true beliefs that were always guided by the greater good for Batswana.