News December 06, 2016 at 02:01 pm

Before Obama: Africa’s Experience with Presidents with Immigrant Roots

Mark Babatunde December 06, 2016 at 02:01 pm

December 06, 2016 at 02:01 pm | News

Photo Credit: Chronicle

Photo Credit: Chronicle

Ian Khama

In April of 2008, while Senator Barack Obama was bidding to become the democratic party’s flag bearer in the American presidential election, Ian Khama was quietly sworn in as president of the small southern African nation of Botswana.

Khama was born in Surrey, England, to a White working class English mother and a young prince from Botswana.

Khama’s Father, Seretse Khama, met his mother while studying law in England. Their romantic love affair, which later turned into marriage, was frowned upon in British society and strongly opposed by the Apartheid regimes that controlled much of southern Africa. Despite the initial opposition, Seretse still married his English wife and later went on to become the first president of Botswana after the country gained independence in 1966.

Khama was educated in Swaziland, trained as a pilot, and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England. He was the commander of the Botswana defense forces until 1998, when he resigned his position in readiness for political office. He replaced Festus Mogae as president in 2008 and won elections for a full-term in 2009.

Khama, like Obama, is biracial and was not even born in Botswana, yet people in Botswana have come to accept him as one of their own, accessing him purely on the strength of his character and performance.

Today, he is regarded as one of the new generation of forward-thinking African leaders who are ushering in a new dawn of dynamic leadership that derives its legitimacy directly from the people. Thanks to Khama’s leadership, Botswana is regarded as one of Africa’s greatest developmental success stories.

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