Ruth Williams Khama

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Ruth Williams Khama
Born (1923-12-09)9 December 1923
Blackheath, London
Died 22 May 2002(2002-05-22) (aged 78)
Cause of death Throat cancer
Resting place Royal Cemetery, Serowe, Botswana
Other names First Lady of Botswana
Political party Botswana Democratic Party
Children Ian Khama, Tshekedi Khama II

Ruth Williams Khama, Lady Khama (9 December 1923[1] – 22 May 2002) was the wife of Botswana's first president Sir Seretse Khama, the Paramount Chief of its Bamangwato tribe. She served as the inaugural First Lady of Botswana from 1966 to 1980.

Life and marriage[edit]

Lady Khama was born Ruth Williams, the daughter of George and Dorothy Williams.[2] She had a sister, Muriel Williams-Sanderson, whom she was very close with.[3] Her father was in the British Army, serving in India. Lady Khama was a WAAF ambulance driver from Blackheath, London during World WarII. She met the then Prince Seretse Khama through her sister while he was attending law school in England and she was working as a clerk at Lloyd's of London. Their interracial marriage in Kensington in Q3, 1948[4] provoked discomfort in both South Africa and, initially, Botswana, and they lived as exiles in England until 1956. They then moved to Botswana. Lady Khama was an influential, politically active first lady during her husband's tenure as president, 1966–1980.

Her sons Ian and Tshekedi became prominent politicians in Botswana. Ian Khama became the President of Botswana in 2008.

In pop culture[edit]

A film, A Marriage of Inconvenience, based on the Michael Dutfield book with same name, was made in 1990 about the Khamas. A book, Colour Bar, has been published about the Khamas' relationship and struggles. In addition, it has also been suggested that the experiences of the Khamas, as well as the somewhat contemporary case of 1950s celebutante Peggy Cripps' marriage to the African anti-colonialist Nana Joe Appiah, influenced the writing of the Oscar-winning feature film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

Khama will be portrayed by Rosamund Pike in the upcoming movie A United Kingdom directed by Amma Asante.


Ruth Williams Khama died of throat cancer at the age of 78 and was buried in Botswana.[5][6]


External links[edit]