Emotional Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skill by harnessing and managing your emotions while managing relations with others based on a conscious awareness of their emotions. It may be defined as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s and others’ feelings and emotions to discriminate among them and use this information to guide one’s thinking and action( Salovey & Mayer,1990)

According to Daniel Goleman, Self-awareness, self-regulation and self-motivation are crucial components of emotional and social intelligence. The most accomplished of sub-saharan Africa have constantly exhibited remarkable emotional intelligence. Sensing what people are feeling, being able to take their perspective and build rapport is indeed emotional intelligence.

Evidence of high emotional quotients is seen in the transformational leadership of accomplished African Leaders. One prominent African leader with explicit and countless display of emotional intelligence is Sir Seretse Khama, the first president of Botswana in 1966.

Born into one of the powerful families of Botswana and with a controversial inter-racial marriage, Sir Karma was pushed into complications and controversies which warranted adept applications of emotional smartness to succeed in his life career.

Firstly, Seretse Khama in the light of the apparent racism in the neighbouring states of South Africa and beyond returned to Botswana with his foreign wife Ruth William. It indeed requires a great deal of self-awareness to be able to take such bold steps. Despite the troubles of rejection, racism and exile, Seretse Khama still managed to win the hearts of his people because he exhibited true emotional intelligence in managing himself utilizing the emotional perspectives of the people of Botswana to his advantage.

Secondly, “In 1956, Seretse and Ruth Khama were allowed to return to Bechuanaland as private citizens, after he had renounced the tribal throne.”(Seretse Khama, Wikipedia). Emotional smartness requires a conscious awareness of your situation and the forces and emotions around you to be able to make right choices. This was clearly exhibited is Khama’s return as private citizen and the renouncing of the tribal throne. He was smart enough to realize that this was the only way to return peacefully and still maintain credibility amongst his people.

Thirdly, “In 1961, however, Khama leaped back onto the political scene by founding the nationalist Bechuanaland Democratic Party. His exile gave him an increased credibility with an independence-minded electorate.( Seretse Khama, Wikipedia). Knowing when to take specific action by being conscious of the societal emotions is good application of emotional intelligence. Seretse Khama knew this and pitched the right time when he was aware of the credibility he had earned amongst his people to launch his political party

At the time of its independence, Botswana was among the world’s poorest countries, even poorer than most other African countries. Khama set out on a vigorous economic programme intended to transform it into an export-based economy, built around beef, copper and diamonds. (Guest, 2004). Khama upon assuming presidency had to utilize a quantum of EQ to be able to decisively plunge the country in an export based economy. By his immense social awareness, he identified the strength in exporting beef, copper and diamonds and quickly set out a mission based on his social realization.

According to Richard dale, a week after independence, Sir Seretse Khama announced before the National Assembly his government’s policy to insure that Botswana would not become a base of operations for attacking any neighbour.(Dale 1995). In the light of foreign policy, Khama’s emotional intelligence guided his decisions in exercising careful politics not to allow militant groups to operate from within Botswana.

Another clear evidence of emotional intelligence is evidenced by the number of persons who attended the burial of Seretse Khama in 1980. Forty thousand people paid their respects while his body lay in state in Gaborone .(Tlou et al,1995). This signifies that, Khama had prior to and in his term of office empathized and aligned himself with the people to a great extent. This is obviously a clear demonstration of emotional intelligence

Another commendable display of emotional intelligence is how he managed to “uphold liberal democracy and non-racialism in the midst of a region embroiled in civil war, racial enmity and corruption”. Khama exhibited decisive evidence of social awareness and self-management in taking key decisions for the benefit of his people and the country as a whole. In his last years, he played an important role in southern African politics when he negotiated the future of Zimbabwe and South West African Namibia and developed a vision of a southern Africa post-colonialism and post–apartheid, seen to be a key part in the development of the Southern African Development Community that has since been founded.

In conclusion, Seretse Khama in his lifetime demonstrated clear manifests of emotional intelligence. He constantly proved in his actions and decisions that he was fully aware of himself and the society in which lived and he managed himself and relations to the absolute benefit of the country. The emotional smartness and high emotional quotient of Seretse Khama is embedded is his view on history, quoted from a speech at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in 1970:

“in a very positive way, to despise ourselves and our ways of life. We were made to believe that we had no past to speak of, no history to boast of. The past, so far as we were concerned, was just a blank and nothing more. Only the present mattered and we had very little control over it. It seemed we were in for a definite period of foreign tutelage, without any hope of our ever again becoming our own masters. The end result of all this was that our self-pride and our self-confidence were badly undermined.


Visit St VItus OD Consult to read more intriguing concepts to organizational and personal development


Salovey, P. & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence.

Robert Guest (2004). The Shackled Continent.

Tlou, Thomas; Parsons, Neil; Henderson, Willie (1995). Seretse Khama, 1921–1980

Http//www.wikipedia.com/ Sir Seretse Khama.html

Dale, Richard. Botswana’s Search for Autonomy in Southern Africa. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1995: 50



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