In This Review

Seretse Khama, 1921-1980
Seretse Khama, 1921-1980
By Thomas Tlou, Neil Parsons, and Willie Henderson
Macmillan, 1995, 467 pp
Purchase

Born the hereditary ruler of the Bangwato people of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Seretse Khama sparked a furor among British colonial officials when he married an English woman, Ruth Williams, in 1948. Fearing a white backlash that would help entrench the new government of Daniel F. Malan in South Africa, the British denied Seretse his chieftainship and exiled him until 1956. He then returned home as a commoner and was gradually drawn into party politics, becoming prime minister and later the highly respected president of independent Botswana from 1966 until his death in 1980. This authoritative and engagingly written biography presents an appealing picture of Seretse, Ruth, Tshekedi Khama, who served as Bangwato regent from 1925 to 1950, and a large cast of extras. Going well beyond the personal story of its principal subject, it chronicles the emergence of Botswana in the 1960s and 1970s as a purposefully nonracial country and as a diplomatic leader among the border states confronting South Africa.