The history of Botswana’s transition to democracy is like something out of a fairy tale, and well worth recounting. The story begins in 1925, when Seretse Khama, at age 4, became king of the most powerful Tswana tribe in what was then called the Bechuanaland Protectorate. In the mid-1940s, he moved to Britain to study law. There he fell in love with a white British woman named Ruth Williams, and they married in 1948.
This caused a political crisis both in Bechuanaland and in South Africa. Many tribal elites at home naturally expected him to marry another Tswana. Meanwhile, South Africa was beginning to implement grand apartheid (which, of course, included laws against interracial marriage) and objected strongly at having a neighboring state run by an interracial couple.
Khama returned home with his new wife, where they managed to convince the tribal elders and the general population that the marriage was acceptable. But the Brits were heavily dependent on South African gold and uranium, so they exiled Khama and his wife from Bechuanaland. Khama wasn’t gone for long, however; after renouncing the throne, and backed by strong internal and international protests, he returned in 1956.