IAN Khama, the former President of Botswana, took to Facebook this week to pay a heartwarming tribute to his mother, Ruth, on what would have been her 98th birthday.
This is his full message: “Today December the 9th is the day my mother was born. She was not to know on that day in 1923 how her life was to be one of love, devotion, unimaginable challenges, commitment and service around the man she so dearly loved, my father, and her family and the people of Botswana, in particular, the disadvantaged.
“Getting married to someone from Africa as an English lady was unheard of at the time and frowned upon and attempts even by governments to block. Having to live in exile during that period and returning eventually to mixed feelings about the marriage.
“Leaving a most developed country to a least developed one where you know no one. Imagine the contrast. But she persevered during tough times and devoted her love and energy to the people of this country.
“She saw Bechuanaland as it was then become Botswana. She witnessed and was part of its transition from a very poor nation to a middle-income economy. She saw how our traditional values were adopted in our constitution that made us the longest-serving and most successful democracy on the continent.
“She watched as my father confronted poverty, droughts, hostile minority regimes surrounding us. She watched him die at the early age of 59. But she managed to soldier on despite her great loss until she died. She would have been 98 today. I am comforted that she died in the Botswana we all knew and not in today’s that we don’t.
“Happy birthday Mother!”