When I was first appointed to be Resident Commissioner of the Bechuanaland Protectorate I asked to be told of a book about my new charge. I found that there was no such single volume, but that much information, historical, anthropological and social, was scattered about in scores of different books and essays. I thereupon decided that for my own satisfaction I would summarize at least the history of the Protectorate. This book, compiled in such leisure as an official life affords, is the result. I must emphasize that its scope is designedly limited, and that it does not attempt to present more than an outline of events. Nor, except when they are relevant to my purpose, have I made any reference to the customs and characteristics of the people of the Protectorate. Anyone who is interested in these can find them in the invaluable studies of Dr. I. Schapera and in works by other authors, some of which are listed in the bibliography.
Part I of this book is a summary of the events from the beginning of the nineteenth century, when authentic records are first available, that led to the Protectorate becoming a part of the British Empire. This record ends in 1939, except for an account of the part played by Tswana troops in the 1939-45 war, which forms the epilogue to the book.
Part II gives the history, part traditional and part factual, of each tribe until the present day. I have made little attempt at original research. I have merely summarized what I have been able to find in the published and unpublished work of others, and in official files. The more important tribes have been thoroughly studied, especially by Dr. Schapera, and by Messrs. V. F. Ellenberger and G. E. Nettelton, but it is a matter for regret that so little should be known of the lesser or subordinate tribes, apart from the Kaa, whose history has been studied by Dr. Schapera, and the Talaote, on whom the same authority has made useful notes. These tribes have a history no less varied and interesting than the major tribes and I hope that the gaps in the present book will stimulate others to fill them in.
In these traditions, too much attention should not be attached to the dates which I have quoted from time to time. Until the coming of the European, these are guess-work, though I think they are probably not too far out. They should therefore be taken as rough guides to chronology and no more. It is not until the middle of the nineteenth century, and sometimes not then, that we can speak of dates with certainty, except of course, when some European trader, hunter, missionary or explorer has pinpointed the year of any particular matter in a written record.