United States First Lady, Michelle Obama, is certainly not going to find another ‘First Lady’ waiting to navigate her around during her cultural visit to Botswana between June 21 and 26.
Government spokesman, Dr. Jeff Ramsay, says this is no big deal as there is no rule about it.
“Somebody can be designated; there is no rule in relation to the presence or absence of a First Lady, and therefore things will be arranged,” he said.
Although the First Lady’s role has never been codified or officially defined, her role has always developed gradually over the centuries.
She figures prominently in the political and social life of the nation. As a representative of her husband on official and ceremonial occasions, both at home and abroad, the First Lady is closely watched for some hint of her husband’s thinking and for a clue to his future actions. Her prominence provides her a platform from which to influence behavior and opinion.
It is for the first time that Botswana is led by an unmarried president, and the first time it is without a ‘First Lady’.
Culturally, Batswana respect marriage. The respect is even more for adults who hold high positions of responsibility.
When foreign delegates visit the ‘State House’, they will not learn how a normal Tswana family lives due to the absence of a First Lady. Tswana proverbs, such as ‘Mosadi ke thari ya Sechaba’, show the important role a woman plays as a woman in her own right and as a wife and a mother.
Some argue that individuals, including country leaders, should not marry to fulfill societal expectations because such marriages result in misery and early divorce.
“Whether or not we do not have a First Lady in our country does not mean Michelle Obama will not be able to pass her message through and bring some great developments to the youths’ lives,” said one prominent businesswoman in Gaborone. “The current Miss Botswana can be appointed to tour around with her looking at the fact that she is a youth and the First Lady will have her focus issues based on the youth,” she said.