Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sir Seretse joked about naming State House ‘Nigger in the Woodpile’

A wit has remarked that the beauty of a quotation is that you can purposefully use somebody else’s words to be insulting – then claim innocence on the reasoning that the words are not actually yours.

Sir Russell England, a white member of the pre-independence Legislative Council that convened in Lobatse, saw a lot of beauty in “nigger in the woodpile” and was forever angling for an opportunity to use it at the Council’s meetings. The Council could have been bantering about the weather or discussing when to take a short break and England would figure out a deceptive manoeuvre to use that saying. It soon became clear to other Council members what his real intention was: to insult black members of the Council, who included future Botswana presidents, Sirs Seretse Khama and Ketumile Masire.

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