Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Botswana

Published: Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 1,991,000; Members, 1,305; Wards, 2; Branches, 2; Percent LDS, .065, or one in 1,526; Africa Southeast Area; South Africa Johannesburg Mission.

Botswana, previously known as Bechuanaland, became independent from Britain on 30 September 1966. Located in south-central Africa, it is bordered by Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The official language is English, with Setswana also spoken. Fifty percent of the people are Christian, while 50 percent follow tribal beliefs.

In June 1975, Lawrence C. and Hazel Parker arrived in Botswana where he worked as an agricultural adviser and teacher. By 1977 Latter-day Saints Blaine and Grace McClellan were also living there. A branch in Gaborone was created in 1983.

Missionaries Karl and Marjorie Jenkins were sent to Botswana in 1990 with the assignment to locate Latter-day Saints who had joined abroad that were now residing in Botswana. The first missionaries assigned to work full-time in Botswana, Bruce and Patricia Midge, arrived in June 1990. Members living in Botswana at the time included Peace Corps workers, Patricia Lutz and Javotte Pickering, and the Maurice Mzwinila and Anthony Mogare families, who had joined the Church while studying in the United States.

In March 1992, the branch was divided to form the Gaborone West and Gaborone Broadhurst branches. An additional branch was created at Lobatse on 28 October 1992. The Gaborone Botswana District was created at that same time with Kwasi Agyare Dwomoh as president. It continued until 12 July 1995 when it was dissolved. At that time the Gaborone West and Gaborone Broadhurst branches became wards and along with the Lobatse Branch they were incorporated into the Roodepoort South Africa Stake.

The Gaborone Botswana District was organized on 1 March 1992. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of Twelve visited Botswana on the following 21 August. On 19 January 1997 the Gaborone Branch meetinghouse was dedicated. The first full-time missionary from Botswana, Yakale Million Moroka, served in the South Africa Cape Town Mission from March 1999 to March 2001.

Sources: Borgna Brunner, "Countries of the World, Botswana," Time Almanac 2003; South Africa Mission, Manuscript history and reports, Church Archives; South Africa Johannesburg Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives.