Seretse Khama Quotes

First president of Botswana

A Portrait of Seretse Khama, January 1970 © Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
A Portrait of Seretse Khama, January 1970. © Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

"I think that the trouble we now face in the world is caused mainly by the refusal to try and see another man’s point of view, to try and persuade by example — and the refusal to meet a rather passionate desire to impose your own will upon others, either by force or other means."
Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana, from a speech given in Blantyre in July 1967.

"It should now be our intention to try to retrieve what we can of our past. We should write our own history books to prove that we did have a past, and that it was a past that was just as worth writing and learning about as any other. We must do this for the simple reason that a nation without a past is a lost nation, and a people without a past is a people without a soul."
Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana, speech at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, 15 May 1970, as quoted in the Botswana Daily News, 19 May 1970.

"Botswana is a poor country and at present is unable to stand on its own feet and develop its recourses without assistance from its friends."
Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana, from his first public speech as president, 6 October 1966.

"We are convinced that there is justification for all the races that have been brought together in this part of Africa, by the circumstances of history, to live together in peace and harmony, for they have no other home but Southern Africa. Here we will have to learn how to share aspirations and hopes as one people, united by a common belief in the unity of the human race. Here rests our past, our present, and, most importantly of all, our future."
Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana, speech at the national stadium on the 10th anniversary of indepedence in 1976. As quoted in Thomas Tlou, Neil Parsons and Willie Henderson's Seretse Khama 1921-80, Macmillan 1995.

"[W]e Batswana are not desperate beggars..."
Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana, from his first public speech as president, 6 October 1966.

"[D]emocracy, like a little plant, does not grow or develop on its own. If must be nursed and nurtured if it is to grow and flourish. It must be believed in and practiced if it is to be appreciated. And it must be fought for and defended if it is to survive."
Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana, speech given at the opening of the fifth session of Botswana's third National Assembly in November 1978.

"Lefatshe ke kereke yame. Go dira molemo tumelo yame.
The world is my church. To do good my religion"

Inscription to be found on Seretse Khama's grave.