April 1, 2008

The Jewel of African Democracy

While we wait for news out of Zimbabwe, this news out of Botswana provides the starkest of contrasts in the hopes and promise of democratic rule of African nations and continues to demonstrate why the "noble land" is known as the jewel of African democracy:

President Festus Mogae of Botswana hands over power to Ian Khama on Tuesday, joining the small group of African leaders who have left office without seeking to extend their rule.

While living in Botswana I was struck by how hotly contested, yet extremely civil, political contests were - due in part, I think, to how they build on traditional structures of village and tribal leadership and debate. (Forgetting for the moment the pickup trucks with megaphones that wind their way through the streets at 4:30 in the morning rallying the party faithful)  Everyone, and I mean everyone, had an official picture of Mogae hanging in their office or home - regardless of where you stood politically, the office was incredibly respected as an instrument of good for the people and the nation.  Khama was head of the military and VP while I was there and seemed to be a good man - with the added bonus of being the first born son of the enormously esteemed, nigh unto worshipped, first president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama he shouldn't have any trouble gaining the people's support.  Well done, Rra Mojae, gosiame.  

Update:  The BBC is stealing my post titles

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