Botswana. In July, a trial began when around 200 people from the Bush People’s Basarwa challenged the government’s 2002 decision to forcibly relocate them from traditional settlements in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
According to CountryAAH, the total population in Botswana is 2,351,638 people in 2020. Almost 40% of the country’s sexually active adults are infected with HIV. But at an international conference on AIDS in Bangkok during the year, Botswana received attention for its anti-AIDS program, which was referred to as the most advanced in Africa. The government promises free treatment with brake medication to anyone in need, and in the capital Gaborone is the world’s largest AIDS clinic.
In August, mining company Debswana was forced to temporarily shut down a few of its mines, after a couple of thousand workers went on a wild strike demanding higher wages. The union and the company reached a compromise agreement on wages, but a number of workers lost their jobs. Debswana operates four diamond mines and accounts for almost a third of the Botswana economy.
The October parliamentary elections were won by President Festus Mogae’s party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has ruled the country ever since independence in 1966. The party took 44 of the parliament’s 57 seats, while the Botswana National Front (BNF) got 12 seats. Observers described the election as free and fair. Botswana is considered to have one of the most open political systems in Africa.
Mma Ramotswe – the most famous Botswana
Many know about Botswana other than Mma Ramotswe, Africa’s own Miss Marplen. This middle-aged detective sipping Rooibos tea investigates crimes in his surroundings and organizes the affairs of his loved ones in his own warm and down-to-earth way. The character created by the author Alexander McCall Smith is adventurous in several undercover novels, which have been translated into almost 40 languages, including Finnish. Mma Ramotswe is taking a brisk stance on issues, whether it is pollution of nature or the high AIDS rates in Botswana, even among Africans.
From Betsuanama to Botswana
Originally, present-day Botswana was inhabited by bushmanners who belonged to hunter-gatherers. They were allowed to give way to the dry Kalahari when, during the 17th-century Bantua peoples’ migration, the Tswans, who make up the current majority population, moved to the area, and a little later the Matabeles and white boars who fled the Zulu movement. Today, there are less than 20,000 bushmans in Botswana. The government has tried to get them on training and services, but they oppose and claim that they just want to get out of the way when trying to find new diamond deposits in the Kalahari.
The coexistence of the Tswanas and the Dutch did not go smoothly, as the Boers sought to extend their land ownership to black areas as well. Tswana chiefs sought and received protection from the English, who made the area in 1885 a protectorate of Betsuanama. Independence was gained in the name of Botswana in 1966. Prince Seretse Khama was elected the first president. For years, he became a favorite of the Western press – not so much because of multi-party democracy in the country and rare in Africa as because of his white English-born wife, Ruth Williams.