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Ruth Williams Khama
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First Lady
    (December 9, 1923-May 22, 2002)
    Born in Blackheath, London, United Kingdom
    Former secretary for Lloyd's of London
    First Lady of Botswana (Sept. 30, 1966–Jul. 13, 1980)
    Mother of Botswana's 4th president, Ian Khama (elected in 2008)
    Married then-Prince Seretse Khama of the Bamangwato tribe, in 1948
    Interracial marriage sparked controversy within both the apartheid government of South Africa and the tribal elders of Bechuanaland
    Husband would go on to become the first president of independent Botswana, in 1966
    Portrayed by Rosamund Pike, opposite David Oyelowo, in Amma Asante's 'A United Kingdom' biopic (2016)
    Her married surname sounds like 'karma.'
    She has been compared to Wallis Simpson.
    She could have been played by Meryl Streep (but we were all spared).
    In all her time in Bechuanaland/Botswana, she never learned the local tribal languages.
    Her story is said to have inspired the overrated Hepburn-Tracy swan song with Sidney Poitier, 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.'
    She and her husband tried unsuccessfully to become cattle ranchers after being 'involuntarily retired' from politics in the early '60s.
    She was the matriarchal head of a political dynasty (her son's tenure as president wasn't nearly as successful as her husband's however).
    She was a WAAF ambulance driver during World War II.
    She and Seretse first fell in love discussing their love of jazz at a party.
    South African Prime Minister Daniel Malan called the interracial marriage 'nauseating.'
    Her decision to marry Seretse was also met with disapproval on racial grounds by her parents, her father in particular.
    In an attempt to appease the South African government, British bureaucrats tried to meddle with the wedding by weighing it down with red tape.
    When this failed, the British High Commission opted for less flamboyant methods, holding Seretse indefinitely and preventing him from returning to Botswana.
    Seretse was at least permitted to return to Botswana for the birth of his first child, at which time Ruth joined him in exile, returning to London and settling in Croydon.
    Within five years, public outrage had mounted to the point that the Bamangwato tribe resorted to wiring Queen Elizabeth, demanding the couple's release. The government relented, but Seretse was forced to renounce his claim to the tribal throne.
    The abdication set the stage for the founding of the Bechuanaland Democratic Party, and his election to the country's first President. As First Lady, she was an engaging and beloved figure who held great influence over her husband's decisions.
    After her husband's death in office, she was recognized by the Bamangwato people as 'Mohumagadi Mma Kgosi' (roughly translated as 'queen mother').
    Tanzania president Julius Nyerere - then a student teacher - called their marriage 'one of the great love stories of the world.' Winston Churchill, while disapproving of the marriage, called them 'very brave.'
    On one occasion, while she and her husband were campaigning for national independence in the countryside, their touring car broke down. She proceeded to get out and repair the car herself, prompting Seretse to exclaim 'well I certainly married the right woman!'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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