By Susan Williams
Recommended on: 25th February 2021
Colour Bar: The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation, by Susan Williams, tells a fascinating tale about how love, racism, and politics can intertwine to affect an entire country. Sir Seretse Khama was born to inherit the throne of leadership in what was then the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland. This area would become Botswana, and Khama was to be elected its first president. Seretse’s strong stance against corruption has helped make today’s Botswana one of the most advanced, with the highest GDP, in all of Africa.
But behind all this is an extraordinary love story between Khama and his wife, Lady Khama, who was born Ruth Williams, the daughter of George and Dorothy Williams of South London. Initially, virtually everyone who was anyone in both Bechuanaland and England opposed the wedding—the English because they opposed a white woman marrying, of all people, a black man, and the Botswanans because they opposed Khama marrying, of all people, a white woman. But the Botswanans were soon to prove much more accepting, while the English powers that be (save for Churchill!) dug in their heels. We found the book to be a bit heavy on the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering—we would have loved to have known more of what Seretse and Ruth themselves were thinking. But then, a biographer can only work with what’s available. How Seretse and Ruth found a way through a world of rampant prejudice is the stuff of legend.
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