Botswana, Africa's Haven of Ethnic Peace and Harmony: Status and Future Prospects

Munyae M. Mulinge


This paper has the dual objectives to highlight some of the factors that account for the absence of ethnic tensions and conflict in Botswana since independence and to reflect on the future of ethnic relations in the country. It identfles factors such as the nature of ethnic relations during the colonial period, the nature of British indfrect rule, the relatively even development across regions occupied by different ethnic groups, deliberate government efforts to create national as opposed to tribal consciousness and the institutions of chieftaincy as having contributed to harmonious ethnic relations. An examinatn of the current situation, however, points to emerging disintegrative ethnic consciousness. This is evident from three factors: I) The political debates centred on ethnic representation in the House of Chiefs and the fairness of sections 77, 78, and 79 of the Constitution that are sweeping across the country; 2) the appointment of a Presidential Commission to review sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Constitution, and 3) the focus the subject of ethnicity has received in the print ,?ledia. It is concluded that Botswana is no longer safe from the ethnic strjfe, tensions and conflicts that have engulfed most other Africa countries, unless deliberate corrective measures are adopted by the state, drawing from other African countries to ident5.' what works and what does not work.

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