All the proceeds of the 2020 SPAR Women’s Challenge Botswana will be donated to the Lady Khama Charitable Trust (LKCT). The trust provides a fundraising platform for all charitable organisations across Botswana. Their beneficiaries are mostly focused on early childhood development, disability projects and random acts of kindness.
The foundation was started in 2002 by Seretse Khama in honour of his mother, Lady Ruth Khama. Ruth Khama was the wife of Botswana’s first president and served as the inaugural First Lady of Botswana from 1966 to 1980. Doing charity work and having the opportunity to help those less fortunate was a great passion of Lady Khama’s and it was this legacy that her son hoped to continue in the Lady Khama Charitable Trust.
Lady Khama was not received well by Botswana at first because of her controversial interracial marriage to Seretse Khama, heir to the chieftainship of the Bamangwato, the biggest tribal nation in Bechuanaland. They quietly married in September 1948 after a year of courtship. This caused many problems for a variety of reasons. Khama angered the tribal elders by not choosing one of their women to marry and instead brought a (white) outsider into the tribe instead.
The Union of South Africa had just established Apartheid and the interracial marriage right next door alarmed the South African government. Under the Apartheid system, South Africa banned interracial marriage in 1949 and opposed to having a ruling interracial couple across the border. They banned the couple from entering South Africa and appealed to Britain to do more. After a judicial enquiry was conducted by the British government into Khama’s fitness for the chieftainship, he was found fit to rule, “but for his unfortunate marriage.” The Khama’s were subsequently exiled from Bechuanaland in 1951.
The Khama’s did not give up though and fought to return to Seretse’s homeland. He had to sacrifice his right to the tribal throne but they were allowed to return as private citizens in 1956, five years after being exiled. He tried his hand at cattle ranching and then turned to politics. He founded his political party in 1961 and went on to dominate the 1965 elections.
Despite her rocky start to being accepted in Botswana, the people couldn’t help but love Lady Ruth. She threw herself into voluntary work and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of women, children and those less fortunate than herself. She soon won over their hearts and became known as the Mother of Botswana and the Queen of Botswana.
The Lady Khama Charitable Trust was founded to continue the legacy that she began. Making a difference to lives all around Botswana is what her son intended when he began this amazing organisation.
SPAR is proud to be associated with the LKCT and hold the 2020 SPAR Women’s Challenge Botswana in their honour.