The limits of the 'African Miracle': Academic freedom in Botswana and the deportation of Kenneth good

Ian Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


On 21 February 2005, Botswana's President Festus Mogae gave a speech to the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex declaring that "everyone is free to air their opinion's" in his country. In what seemed to be a contradiction of his own declaration, Mogae signed a deportation order 36 hours before his speech to expel Botswana's leading political scientist Kenneth Good. Professor Kenneth Good, an Australian citizen, was recruited to the University of Botswana (UB) in 1990 from the University of Zambia. Throughout his tenure at UB, Good sought to dig beneath the "African Miracle" and highlight the downside of the country's political economy as well as its positive attributes. Specifically, Good critically commented on the levels of corruption within Botswana as well as explored the "authoritarian liberalism" of the country and exposed the elites' haughtiness vis-à-vis accountability and participatory democracy. In lieu of these reasons, the 72-year old Good was deported on 31 May 2005 after the Botswana High Court ruled against him on the grounds that the Constitution of Botswana gives the President the right to behave as he wants and that there was no recourse to legal redress. Good's case not only undermined academic freedom within Botswana but also the freedom of expression. Both have become meaningless given the President's absolute right to deport anyone at any time and for any reason without any explanation at all.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-122
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Contemporary African Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


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