Of Botswana’s Administrative Centres and their Movements: Vryburg, Mahikeng and Gaborone, 1885-1966

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With Botswana celebrating a milestone 50th anniversary of Independence in 2016 a lot of activities took place in the country’s capital Gaborone –the unique History of which this paper refl ects on. This paper uses primary and secondary sources to make an enquiry into the reasons why it was thought prudent by the
colonial Botswana (Bechuanaland Protectorate) administration to have an administrative base of the territory outside its boundaries. It also argues that the establishment of the administrative centre of Botswana outside its boundaries was motivated by factors of expediency, top among which were economic and infrastructuralwhile those that later motivated the movement to inside the territory encompassed both economic and political reasons. The paper further argues that the latter factor particularly, linked with the fervor of the rise of African nationalism and its emphasis on equality for all and condemnation of racism and colonialism of which Botswana was part, became instrumental in the movement of the administrative centre from the then Union
of South Africa into Botswana in the mid-1960s. The secession of South Africa from the Commonwealth in 1961 to become a republic with a legally racialist ticket added impetus to the movement from Mahikeng into the territory. The agitation of the African leadership together with that of the minority European settlers in Botswana also contributed to the movement of the headquarters to its present location. The paper fi nally examines the nine locations earmarked for the headquarters of the country and why Gaborone, the present capital of Botswana, was considered the most appropriate at the time.

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