Bechuanaland Protectorate

From Academic Kids

The Bechuanaland Protectorate (BP) was a protectorate established on March 31, 1885 by Britain in the area of what is now Botswana.

Bechuanaland meant the country of the Bechuana (now written Batswana or Tswana). The southern part of the territory of Bechuanaland was divided into British Bechuanaland, a colony which later bacame part of the Cape Colony (and is now in South Africa). This is the area around Mafikeng (then called Mafeking). The northern part was the Bechuanaland Protectorate; its territory was expanded north in 1890.

The British government originally expected to turn over administration of the protectorate to Rhodesia or South Africa, but Tswana opposition left the protectorate under British rule until it became independent as Botswana in 1966.

The BP was technically a protectorate rather than a colony, but this was a legal distinction of little practical significance.

The protectorate was administered from Mafeking (now Mafikeng), creating a unique situation of the capital of the territory being located outside of it.

The eastern part of the colony was originally claimed by Matabeleland, and in 1887 Samuel Edwards (working for Cecil Rhodes) obtained a mining concession.

In 1891 administration of the protectorate was given to the High Commissioner for South Africa; in 1895 the British South Africa Company attempted to acquire the area, but three Tswana chiefs visited London to protest and were successful in fending off the BSAC. Later attempts to develop also had little effect.

The BP was one of the "High Commission Territories", the others being Basutoland (now Lesotho) and Swaziland. The official with the authority of a Governor was the High Commissioner. This was an office held by the Governor of the Cape, and then by the Governor-General of South Africa, and finally by the British High Commissioner to South Africa. The actual administration was headed in each territory by a Resident Commissioner, who thus had approximately the functions of a Governor but somewhat less authority.


Postage stamps

The first postage stamps were produced in 1888 by overprinting stamps of Bechuanaland (some overprints of British stamps and some issued specifically for the colony) with "Protectorate". In 1889 a 1/2-penny stamp of Cape of Good Hope was overprinted "Bechuanaland / Protectorate.".

From 1897 to 1925 more British stamps were overprinted using the protectorate's name in various layouts. In 1910 a 6-pence stamp of Transvaal was also overprinted; although it was intended for fiscal use, postal uses are known.

The protectorate's first inscribed stamps appeared in a definitive series of 1932. The 12 values, ranging from 1/2d to 10sh, all used the same design; a group of cattle next to a baobab tree, surmounted by a portrait for King George V. The usual Silver Jubilee and Coronation issues appeared in 1935 and 1937, with King George VI replacing his father in a similarly-designed series of 1938.

The protectorate's Peace issue of 1945 was produced by overprinting "Bechuanaland" on South Africa's Peace stamps. Stamps were issued for the Royal Visit in 1947, and for the usual omnibus sets of the period. Queen Elizabeth II replaced her father in a definitive series of 1955, the rest of the design matching the previous definitives.

Three stamps in 1960 commemorated the 75th anniversary of the protectorate, then in 1961 Bechuanaland converted to the South African rand, necessitating surcharges on the existing definitives in February, followed by a new definitive series in October that was mostly pictures of birds, with some showing people at work.

Standard Commonwealth omnibus issues appeared up until independence, along with a 1 June 1966 issue commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Bechuanaland Pioneers and Gunners.

See also

External links

History of Botswana (

List of colonial officials in the BP (

Bibliography for Botswana History (


Thomas Tlou and Alec Campbell History of Botswana

Neil Parsons New History of Southern Africa

Fred Morton and Jeff Ramsay (eds) The birth of Botswana : a history of the Bechuanaland Protectorate from 1910 to es:Bechuanalandia


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