Independence

Date: 
September, 1966

In the spirit of the 1960s, when the British empire is being rapidly dismantled, independence follows only a year after Bechuanaland's internal self-government. The new republic takes the name Botswana, with Seretse Khama as its first president. During the 1970s Botswana allies itself with other independent nations of the region (first Zambia and Tanzania, and subsequently Mozambique and Angola) to put pressure on Rhodesia and South Africa to introduce majority rule. With increasing unrest in the white-dominated nations, Botswana receives a flood of refugees, many of them politically active. This results in frequent raids from South Africa during the 1980s. Seretse Khama dies in 1980 and is succeeded as president by his deputy, Ketumile Masire. Masire remains president for most of the next two decades, being elected for a new five-year term in 1994. He steps down in 1998 and is succeeded by his vice-president, Festus Mogae.