Quett Ketumile Joni Masire was born in Kanye in 1925 and later became one of the founding fathers of independent Botswana. Long admired for his innovative farming methods, Sir Ketumile formed the Botswana Democratic Party in 1962 and was one of the key architects of Botswana's political and economic development. He then served as Vice President of Botswana from 1966-1980 and then became President in 1980 upon the death of Sir Seretse Khama. He lead his party to three successive election victories in 1984, 1989 and 1994, retiring in 1988. The years under Masire realized stellar income per capita growth rates, extensive decline in corruption, and important changes in the election processes. Since retiring from the Presidency, Masire was knighted in 1991 and has continued to be an influential presence in African affairs.
The memoir of Sir Ketumile Masire may be the best handbook available on how one builds a democratic nation and an economy that benefits vast majority of its citizens. In 1966, Botswana's economic and geopolitical situation in southern Africa was desperate. When its leaders asked for independence from Great Britain, they were told they were "either brave or very foolish" to do so. Forty years later, Botswana has achieved what most thought was impossible: a vibrant multi-party and non-racial democracy, with one of the world's fastest rates of economic growth and very low levels of corruption. Sir Ketumile was at the centre of this success, starting in 1961 with his election to the first Legislative Council. In 1962, he joined the late Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's first President, in founding the Botswana Democratic Party and leading it to victory in four national elections. As Minister of Finance and Development Planning, he was the chief architect and the general manager of Botswana's economic success.;Succeeding Sir Seretse as President in 1980, he led the Party to three more election victories before his retirement in 1998, when he handed over to his constitutional successor, Festus Mogae. A self-described "reluctant politician", his first love has always been farming. He brought the common sense and experience of farming in a drought-prone country to bear on economic and social policy choices and in building the political system. He gives a frank account of how and why he and his colleagues made their choices, a candid admission of several failures, and comments on a number of leading political personalities.
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