Carleton College announces the visit of the former President of Botswana Ketumile Masire, who will be on campus Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 5 and 6. During his visit, Masire, accompanied by Carleton President Emeritus Stephen R. Lewis Jr., will speak in a history class and engage in a variety of informal discussion groups with Carleton students and faculty. Masire will give a public address, titled "Building a Democracy in Botswana," on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Concert Hall where he will speak about his experiences in democracy building, establishing open multi-party government and contributing to regional stability through conflict resolution. The event is free and open to the public.
During the course of Masire?s political career, Botswana transformed from a British Protectorate comprised of a collection of tribal entities ruled by chiefs to a unified nation that has held multi-party elections nine times since 1965?a record unmatched in Africa, and equaled in few countries in the developing world. Much of Botswana's success has been attributed to sound economic management and social reinvestment. Masire and his colleagues were committed to reinvesting any sources of funds in social and physical infrastructure that would benefit the vast majority of the people, who were in the rural areas. As a result, Botswana?s achievements in providing education, health care and clean water to its people are unmatched on the African continent, despite the fact that Botswana started as one of the poorest countries in the world and with virtually no infrastructure.
Born in Kanye, Masire earned a teaching degree at Tiger Kloof in the former British Bechuanaland. In 1950 at the age of 25, he became the founder and director of the Seepapitso secondary school in his hometown. He also worked as a farmer and a journalist.
Masire was a founding member of the African nation of Botswana?s Democratic Party in 1962 and was its principal organizer, serving as its first general secretary. Botswana gained independence from Great Britain on Sept. 30, 1966, and rapidly evolved into a modern democracy with free and open elections?a leader in a region plagued by civil war and corruption. With Seretse Khama, the first president of Botswana, Masire participated in every formative aspect of the creation of Botswana as a non-racial, non-tribal democracy.
Masire was Member of Parliament and served as vice-president and minister of finance and development planning from 1966 to 1980. The architect of the country?s un-matched economic success, he led the country to financial independence in 1972. Masire succeeded Khama as president of the Republic of Botswana and led the country from 1980 to 1998, becoming one of the most respected and effective leaders in modern Africa. By the early 1980s, Botswana had one of the strongest foreign exchange positions in Africa and was one of fastest growing countries. At his retirement, the country had achieved the highest rate of growth of per capita income of any country in the world since 1965, according to World Bank data. During his tenure, he was chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and co-chairperson of the Global Coalition for Africa, a position he still holds today. He also became the first vice-chairman of the Organization of African Unity in 1991.
Masire voluntarily retired from public office in 1998, having reluctantly served more years than he wished facilitating a succession that would bridge the factions that had developed in the Democratic Party. He continues to be active in humanitarian efforts. From 1998 to 2000, he served as chair of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) committee investigating the circumstances surrounding the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the Nigerian assembly and presidential elections in 1999, and was the facilitator for the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue from 2000 to 2003.
Masire has been to Carleton twice before. In 1992, he visited the campus at the invitation of then Carleton President Lewis and his schedule included a tour of a Northfield farm, meetings with city officials and spending time with students and faculty. In 1996, he returned to receive an honorary degree. When Masire retired in 1998, Lewis was one of the speakers at Masire?s retirement dinner.
The Carleton Concert Hall has limited disability accessibility. For more information or disability accommodations, call Carleton?s college relations office at (507) 646-4308.
Added by carlmedr on September 20, 2005