Was Botswana's Independence Day Arbitrarily Decided Upon?

Dr. Jeff Ramsay clarifies from a historical perspective.
Was Botswana's Independence Day Arbitrarily Decided Upon?
Botswana FlagSource: Pixabay
1959 Protectorate Day celebrations in Kanye
1959 Protectorate Day celebrations in KanyePhoto by Katesa Schlosser
A

Deciding on the 30th of September as the day of independence was not arbitrary. Between 1958 and 1965 the date was celebrated as “Protectorate Day”, a holiday originally championed by Kgosi Bathoen II of Bangwaketse, as a reaffirmation Batswana appreciation that they were under Mmamosadinyana rather than the neighbouring settler regimes.

While the motive for Protectorate Day was clear, the choice of the 30th of September for its celebration was questionable. It was assumed to have been the date in 1885 when the Protectorate had been proclaimed. In fact the actual instrument for the said event was an Order in Council issued on the 27th of January 1885, and subsequently published on 23 March 1885.

What did occur on the 30th of September 1885 was a second Order, which transformed what had been the portion of the Bechuanaland Protectorate located south of the Molopo River into the Crown Colony of British Bechuanaland, which was later incorporated into South Africa.

Be that as it may, Protectorate Day gained popularity in the run up to independence. Thus in 1964 a certain economics student studying in the UK named Festus Mogae advocated for its post-colonial retention in the pages of Kultwano magazine: “I wish to continue to celebrate the “B.P. Day” even after independence. That will be a way of paying homage to our great ancestors. Protection was theirs; independence will be our achievement.”

The idea caught on, resulting in the February 1966 agreement that: “[Date of Commencement: 30th September, 1966]. Botswana is a sovereign Republic.”

1959 Protectorate Day celebrations in Kanye
1959 Protectorate Day celebrations in KanyePhoto by Katesa Schlosser
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