When we visited Botswana in May 2016, I was really amazed by the country. It is so pretty due to the national parks and the wildlife around.
But I was also amazed about an African country rising…
We learnt from our guide that Botswana is one of the rising stars in Africa, they are trying to grow in agriculture – everywhere you see huge plants which are investments of the state ,they are growing economically and democratically. Besides, Botswana is protecting its wildlife – maybe better than some other countries in Africa.
But what impressed me most was the history of a special couple in Botswana and the Zebra.
Actually I am talking about the old Bechuanaland, the former name of Botswana, and Seretse Khama, the grandson of Kgosi (the title for a hereditary leader of a Botswana tribe) Khama III, (also known as Khama the Good) of the Bangwato people. He was born in 1921 in Bechuanaland. In 1925 Khama succeeded his father to the throne, but his uncle Tshekedi Khama became the new four year-old Kgosi’s regent and guardian. In 1944 Seretse Khama was sent first to South Africa and then to England to study law. In 1947 he met Ruth Williams at university, the daughter of a British retired army officer. Though the families refused their relationship they married in 1948.
Seretse s family, especially his uncle and also the people , were very upset and asked him to come back to Bechuanaland and divorce from “ that white British woman”.
After a long struggle with his uncle and his people on one side and the English authorities and higher politicians on the other side ,he succeeded in this battle . After years of settlement in Bechuanaland and giving birth to her kids over there ,Ruth became very popular among the Bechuana people due to her intelligence , modesty, full integration into the African culture and respect to the people and finally Ruth and Seretse could convince the people of Bechuanaland to accept Ruth as Seretses wife though she was white .Finally Seretse was accepted as the Kgosi.
Later Seretse founded the Botswana Democratic Party in 1962 and became Prime Minister in 1965.
On 30th of September 1966 Bechuanaland became Botswana and gained Independence…
The Zebra became the symbol of Botswana because of its black and white stripes symbolizing the equality and harmony of the black and white color based on the roots of Seretses and Ruths history and depict the racial harmony of people and the pluralist nature of society.
Today these stripes are the symbol of the national unity in the country.
On the flag of Botswana you will realize the center shield supported by two Zebras. The shape of the shield is that of traditional shields found in East Africa.
The blue represents the sky and water .The national currency is PULA, which means “let there be rain”.Actually “Pula “means more than just ‘rain’. It represents life itself, happiness, good health and prosperity, as well as warm greetings or warm welcome .The white-black-white colors depict the racial harmony of the people as well as the pluralistic racial composition of the nation.
National Coat of Arms:
The three cog wheels represent mining and industry in Botswana. The three wavy blue bands in the centre represent the few rivers in the country and the importance of or reliance on water.
A bull’s head symbolises the importance of the cattle industry in the country’s economy. The two Zebras, one supporting an Elephant’s tusk, represent the natural fauna of the country, while a head of sorghum represents Agriculture.
Today the Botswana national team is known as the Zebras and like the animal the boys are loved by their fans and the team became famous for their dangerous kicks .
This was the story of Botswana which I was deeply impressed and thought of when driving through the fields, looking at the sky and the rivers in this beautiful country and which gave me little hope for peace and freedom in the world without regard to anybody s color, religion , gender etc but just to live in peace together as mankind.
I always loved the Zebra as an animal as it seemed so sympathetic to me but after having learnt that story , it has a very special meaning now under my beloved species and will always remind me of beautiful Bechuanaland / Botswana.