Botswana’s government as one of the celebrated postcolonial democracies in Southern Africa continues to have the state owning and controlling the media – in particular, broadcast media. The history of government-owned and controlled media in Botswana can be understood through colonial lenses – it stands out as a product of historical entanglements with the influence of apartheid South Africa’s role, and the invention of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) hegemony. These were further mitigated by other factors that include the sections of Information and Broadcasting’s own internal politics and growth, and, within the geopolitical prism, the Cold War period. This article focuses on the history of radio in Botswana showing its multiple origins and the conflicting visions as to the role and nature of broadcasting in the colony and postcolony. We posit that the aims of modernization, nationalism, national identity and public versus government ownership all had their place in the establishment of radio in the country. Further, we argue that the powerful presence of a coercive and quite overbearing neighbour, South Africa with its South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and a paternalist British voice alongside an anxious postcolonial government, all shaped the eventual identity of Radio Botswana.
- Identity politics