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Between Continent and Country: Botswana, National Liberation, and Pan-Africanist Challenges, 1960s–1980s

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Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)

Abstract

Representative of similarly positioned Frontline States, Botswana became a negotiated space during the twentieth century’s second half. Within a continent where leaders often imagined regional and continental unity, the realities of late-stage colonialism just as often undermined these visions. This chapter investigates the country’s difficult positioning and the sometimes-positive, sometimes-adverse space within, betwixt, and between its citizens and neighbours. Utilising sources from Botswana’s National Archives, as well as from liberation movement archives emanating from the ANC and SWAPO, it seeks to understand how parties constrained under Total War imagined Pan-Africanist ideals within their physical realities.

Keywords

  • Botswana
  • Frontline States
  • Pan-Africanism
  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • ANC
  • SWAPO
  • Legal history
  • Political history

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this case, that refers to people who were both ethnically Tswana and living in Botswana, rather than ethnically Tswana and living externally in a country such as South Africa.

  2. 2.

    University of Fort Hare (hereafter: UFH), ANC, Lusaka Papers, Series 452, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Department, Box 47, Folder 2, Bridgette Mabandla, “Prison Visit to Francistown,” 17 July 1986.

  3. 3.

    University of Fort Hare (hereafter: UFH), ANC, Lusaka Papers, Series 452, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Department, Box 47, Folder 2, Anonymous, “Report on Botswana Trip,” n.d..

  4. 4.

    For further discussion of such lines in South Africa, please see Jacob Dlamini, Askari: A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). For a comparative or continental sense, please see Michelle Moyd, Askari: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2014).

  5. 5.

    Roger Southall, “Botswana as a Host Country for Refugees,” The Journal of Commonwealth & Comparative Politics 22, no. 2 (1984): 151–79.

  6. 6.

    Ronald Dreyer, Namibia and Southern Africa: Regional Dynamics of Decolonization, 1945–1990 (New York: Kegan Paul International, 1994), 13.

  7. 7.

    Dreyer, Namibia and Southern Africa,, 13.

  8. 8.

    Hans Beukes, Long Road to Liberation: An Exiled Namibian Activist’s Perspective (Johannesburg: Porcupine Press, 2014), 77.

  9. 9.

    Thomas Tlou, Neil Parsons, and Willie Henderson, Seretse Khama (Gaborone: Botswana Society, 1995), 253.

  10. 10.

    “Yugoslav Ambassador Registers With Khama,” Botswana Daily News, March 2, 1971, 3.

  11. 11.

    While twenty-first-century reportage often treats Botswana and its much-vaunted balanced budget, it bears remembrance that prior to diamond development in the late 1980s, it consistently held a place on the list of the world’s ten poorest countries. That De Beers feared nationalisation enough to enter a partnership with the government could be read as a reflection of the degree to which the world’s largest corporation saw a connection between the country and the nationalist sentiments of its neighbours.

  12. 12.

    Benneyworth, Garth, “Bechuanaland’s Aerial Pipeline: Intelligence and Counter Intelligence Operations against the South African Liberation Movements, 1960–1965,” South African Historical Journal 70, no. 1 (2018): 108–23.

  13. 13.

    Helao Shityuwete, Never Follow the Wolf: The Autobiography of a Namibian Freedom Fighter (London: Kliptown Books, 1990), 84.

  14. 14.

    Shityuwete, Never Follow the Wolf, 84.

  15. 15.

    Tlou et al., Seretse Khama, x.

  16. 16.

    Zdenek Červenka. The Organization of African Unity and its Charter (London: C. Hurst & Co., 1963), 1.

  17. 17.

    Tlou et al., Seretse Khama, x.

  18. 18.

    Tlou et al., Seretse Khama, xii.

  19. 19.

    Tlou et al., Seretse Khama, 33, 55, 68.

  20. 20.

    Parsons, Neil, “The Pipeline: Botswana’s Reception of Refugees, 1956–68,” Social Dynamics 34, no. 1 (2008): 17–32.

  21. 21.

    Parsons, “The Pipeline,” 17–32.

  22. 22.

    Jennifer A. Widner, Building the Rule of Law: Francis Nyali and the Road to Judicial Independence in Africa (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001).

  23. 23.

    “No Easy Working Relationship With South African Police,” Botswana Daily News, December 8, 1971, 1.

  24. 24.

    The trio facilitated similar operations in Lesotho and Swaziland. For more details, see Hugh Macmillan, The Lusaka Years: The ANC in Exile in Zambia (1963–1994) (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2013), 109–10.

  25. 25.

    Stephen Ellis, External Mission: The ANC in Exile, 1960–1990 (London: Hurst, 2014), 91.

  26. 26.

    BBC Written Archives Center, Caversham, United Kingdom (hereafter BBCWAC), Folder Radio Botswana, Letter, Owen Bently to Johnny, 10 February 1974.

  27. 27.

    Mayibuye Centre, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa (MCUWC), Lusaka Papers, Box 62, ANC Memo, 26 August 1987.

  28. 28.

    MCUWC, Lusaka Papers, Box 62, ANC Memo, 15 February 1987.

  29. 29.

    Richard Dale, “The Challenges and Restraints of White Power for a Small African State: Botswana and Its Neighbors,” Africa Today 25, no. 3 (1978): 7–23.

  30. 30.

    Dale, “The Challenges and Restraints of White Power,” 7–23.

  31. 31.

    BBCWAC, TV Press Office, 1976–1988, Folder, South Africa Papers, letter, Director of Information to Monica Sims, 24 May 1979.

  32. 32.

    Tlou, et al., Seretse Khama, 247–48.

  33. 33.

    BBCWAC, TV Press Office, 1976–1988, Folder, South Africa Papers, South West Africa Summit Meeting Minutes, 1979.

  34. 34.

    Tlou, et al., Seretse Khama, 215.

  35. 35.

    UFH, “Prison Visit to Francistown,” 17 July 1986.

  36. 36.

    Macmillan, The Lusaka Years, 1.

  37. 37.

    Barry Gilder, Songs and Secrets (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 78.

  38. 38.

    Obiora Chinedu Okafor, The African Human Rights System, Activist Forces, and International Institutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 225; ultimately, the legislation’s sections 6.3. and 6.4 were amended to allow for the children of Batswana women and foreign citizens to receive citizenship.

  39. 39.

    Okafor, The African Human Rights System, 226–27.

  40. 40.

    UFH, ANC, Lusaka Papers, Series 452, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Department, Box 47, Folder 2, J.R. Osmos, “ANC Political Prisoners in Botswana: Report to the Legal Department,” n.d.

  41. 41.

    “Interview With Oliver Tambo, The New Times, January 5, 1980,” World History Sources, ANC Historical Documents Online, http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/d/49.html.

  42. 42.

    ‘Also, perhaps, tellingly. Independence-era discussions had involved some passionate arguments in favour of such a force.

  43. 43.

    UFH, “Prison Visit to Francistown,” 17 July 1986.

  44. 44.

    Dale, “The Challenges and Restraints of White Power,” 7–23.

  45. 45.

    University of Kwazulu-Natal, Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Center, Durban, South Africa (UKZN), Phyllis Naidoo Collection, Phyllis Naidoo, “Letter About South African Defense Force Raids on Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia,” 21 July 1986.

  46. 46.

    Gilder, Songs and Secrets, 91.

  47. 47.

    Gilder, Songs and Secrets, 95.

  48. 48.

    Macmillan, The Lusaka Years, 28–29, 35, 37, 65, 71.

  49. 49.

    Kaufman, Michael T, “Zimbabwe is Firm About Reporters,” The New York Times, September 14, 1983.

  50. 50.

    Widner, Building the Rule of Law, 49, 51, 120.

  51. 51.

    Johann Alexander Muller, ‘‘The Inevitable Pipeline into Exile:’ Botswana’s Role in the Namibian Liberation Struggle (Basel: Basel Afrika Bibliographier, 2012), 65.

  52. 52.

    “Oliver Tambo, Opening Speech at the Second National Consultative Congress of the ANC, 16 June 1985,” World History Sources, ANC Historical Documents Online, http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/d/49.html.

  53. 53.

    “Oliver Tambo, Closing Speech by Oliver Tambo at the ANC Conference Peoples of the World United Against Apartheid, for a Democratic South Africa, 4 December 1987,” World History Sources, ANC Historical Documents Online, http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/d/49.html.

  54. 54.

    “Statement by HE Dr. QKJ Masire to the Kampala Forum on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa, 19 May, 1991,” in Africa: Rise to the Challenge: Towards a Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA), eds. Olesegun Obasanjo and Felix G.N. Mosha (Stockholm: African Leadership Forum, 1992), 275–277.

  55. 55.

    “Nelson Mandela, Remarks by President Mandela at the Graveside of South Africans Buried in Botswana, 5 September 1995,” World History Sources, ANC Historical Documents Online, http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/d/49.html.

  56. 56.

    ”Nelson Mandela. ‘Speech at a Banquet in Honor of President Masire, 23 April, 1996,” World History Sources, ANC Historical Documents Online, http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/d/49.html.

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Houser, M.A. (2020). Between Continent and Country: Botswana, National Liberation, and Pan-Africanist Challenges, 1960s–1980s. In: Grilli, M., Gerits, F. (eds) Visions of African Unity. African Histories and Modernities. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52911-6_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52911-6_7

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