Seretse and Ruth Khama, a marriage that shook the world
Nearly 70 years later, the marriage of an African chief to a British woman still echoes with intrigue
An extract from, Your People Will Be My People: The Ruth Khama Story Sue Grant-Marshall Protea Book House The implications of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s Bamangwato tribe’s decision in mid-1949 to accept Seretse Khama as chief, with Ruth Williams as his wife, shook Southern Africa and consequently the British Labour government of Clement Attlee.
The SA nationalist government, which had swept the moderate United Party government headed by Jan Smuts out of power the year before, was enshrining apartheid. Under prime minister DF Malan, SA became the only country on earth brazen enough to entrench apartheid in codified law. And one of the cornerstones of that monstrous system was the Mixed Marriages Act, which prohibited marriage between black and white people. Ruth and Khama had married in the very year that the nationalists came to power, but it was to be some years before the world would repeat the word, “apartheid — separateness” and know the full horror of it. It broke ap...