Botswana History

Botswana History

Archaeological finds indicate that the area of ​​today’s Botswana was settled long before the Christian era began (eg Smithfield, Wilton culture). Around 2,000 years ago, the area (and all of southern Africa) was inhabited exclusively by members of the San nomadic people, of whom around 40,000 descendants still live in Botswana today. From the 2nd century AD the San were ousted by the cattle-breeding Khoi-Khoi.

Around the 3rd century AD Bantu-speaking farmers and ranchers immigrated to southern Africa. In the area of ​​what is now Botswana, the earliest traces of settlement in the north and northeast on the Chobe River were discovered around 200 AD. dated, around 400 AD in Francistown. and in Molepolole around AD 700 to 900. The tribes immigrated to the northern part of the country came from Central Africa, in the northeast they were members of the Shona, in the southeast predominated Tswana and Kgalagadi peoples who came from the south. From around 1500 there was a renewed settlement of the area by Tswana tribes (Bakwena, Bamangwato, Bangwaketse), who came from the southwest and were able to establish themselves as the dominant ethnic group.

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The British African explorer David Livingstone explored parts of today’s Botswana from 1841. A little later, more and more European researchers and missionaries traveled the country. In 1885 Great Britain declared the area as Betschuanaland a protectorate. On the one hand, the leaders of the Tswana tribes had asked the British Mission Society for help against the raids of Burmese settlers, and on the other hand, rich deposits of diamonds and gold had been found in neighboring South Africa. The German Empire also had what is now Namibia declared a German colony of German South-West Africa, the area of ​​today’s Botswana also gained strategic importance for competing Great Britain, which feared a union between the Germans (in the west) and the Burian republics Transvaal and Oranjefreistaat (in the southeast).

Shortly afterwards, the area of ​​Great Britain was declared the Crown Colony of British Betschuanaland. According to AbbreviationFinder, the British tried to influence the internal affairs of the individual tribes as little as possible, the chiefs of the tribes being subordinate to the colonial government. But there was a strong preference for white settlers, who settled predominantly in the economically interesting east of the country (Crownlands and Freehold-Farms) and the displacement of the locals into designated reserves.

In 1895 the area south of the Molopo River was incorporated into the British Cape Colony in South Africa, the area north of the river remained under British protectorate. The introduction of taxes by the British colonial administration resulted in many Tswana hiring themselves out as contract workers in neighboring South Africa (independent from 1931).

A nationalist movement developed in Betschuanaland in the first half of the 20th century. At the same time, there were several attempts by South Africa to control the area, but in response to the British colonial powers’ demands for legal guarantees for the country’s black population and the intervention of Tswana chief Khama III. failed. His grandson and heir to the throne, Seretse Khama, who had to leave the country temporarily due to his marriage to an English woman, was instrumental in the political efforts of Betschuanaland to achieve independence from colonial power.

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In 1960 the “Bechuanaland People’s Party” (BPP) was founded, two years later the “Bechuanaland Democratic Party” (BDP) under the leadership of Seretse Khama. In 1961 Betschuanaland was granted limited internal self-government by Great Britain, and in 1965 the first free elections to the National Assembly were held. The BDP won the election with over 80% of the votes cast. In September 1966, the Republic of Botswana gained full political sovereignty. Seretse Khama became the country’s first president (until 1980) and, according to the constitution, which was also the head of government of the republic, which had a parliamentary structure.

From the 1970s, Botswana saw an enormous economic upturn due to the early mining of rich mineral resources (diamonds, coal, copper). In 1976 the country introduced its own currency, the Pula. Nevertheless, the inland remained economically and technically dependent on neighboring South Africa.

After the death of Seretse Khama in 1980, the previous Vice President Quett Ketumile Joni Masire (BDP) became the new Head of State of Botswana. In the same year, the country was one of the founders of the “Southern African Development Community (SADC)”, together with Angola , Lesotho , Malawi , Mozambique Namibia Zambia , Zimbabwe , Swaziland and Tanzania. The goal of the association, which is based in Gaborone, is closer economic cooperation between the participating states (eg by gradually reducing tariffs and establishing a free trade area) and maintaining peace.

At the beginning of the 1980s, new diamond deposits were discovered in Botswana (Jwaneng). Ten years later, the country’s economy was in a serious crisis: a devastating drought disrupted livestock by around 50% (Botswana was one of the largest meat suppliers in Africa at the time), and the world market price for diamonds, the country’s main export, declined. Nevertheless, the country was still extremely stable internally, and the BDP of the incumbent president won the absolute majority of the votes in the 1994 elections. In November 1997, President Quett Ketumile Joni Masire announced his retirement for reasons of age. His successor was the previous Minister of Finance and Development, Festus Gontobanye Mogae (BDP). Mogae’s successor as President has been Seretse Ian Khama since April 2008.

The population of Botswana has one of the highest levels of infection in the world with HIV, the causative agent of the immune deficiency disease AIDS; almost every fourth adult resident is infected.

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