CO-Author of controversial paper remembers him as fearless and brutally critical
Professor Kenneth Good, the old school and erudite political scientist who was deported by the former president, Festus Mogae’s administration for his critical views on his (Mogae) administration has passed on aged 87 after suffering a severe stroke.
Good was on the 18th February 2005 declared “to be an undesirable inhabitant of or visitor to Botswana” by Mogae and was the same day served with a ‘Notice of Determination’ declaring him as ‘undesirable person’. He was finally deported after a High Court rejected his urgent application within hours after the judgement (end of May 2005).
President Mogae, declared that his decision was taken “in the interests of the peace, stability and national security of Botswana”. Dr Ian Tailor who co-authored Good’s controversial paper which was to be presented by Good at the University of Botswana before his deportation remembers Good as an old-style academic who saw his role as providing a critique of government and the ruling class.
“I was (and still am) extremely familiar with Ken and knew exactly what he was working on. We discussed a lot, often over beers and pizza around his house on a Friday night. The idea that he was some sort of “threat to national security” was absolutely laughable. He was an old-style academic who saw his role as providing a critique of government and the ruling class,” he said in response to this publication.
He continued: “This was a continuous thread in his work: read what he was writing about when he was an academic in Zambia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Rhodesia etc. It was all about him critically engaging with the policies and practices of whatever country he was in (that’s why he got kicked out of racist Rhodesia by Ian Smith!) What he was doing in Botswana was no different: critiquing the creeping presidentialism in Botswana and what he believed to be fault policy in dealing with the Basarwa. That was it – nothing sinister. Deporting him and separating him from his daughter was extremely cruel and pointless.”
Good was an expatriate instructor at the University of Botswana (UB) from 1990 to 2005, when the government deported him for what observers ascribed to his highly political academic work, focusing almost exclusively on the undemocratic character of the ruling party’s government and its social and economic oppression of the San.
His critics had issues with what they referred to as partisan nature of his scholarship saying he was unwilling to recognise any of the progress the country had made since its independence, especially given the lack of development during the colonial era. They cried out that his goal was to turn foreign governments and people against Botswana’s government and economy.
Following his deportation, Good’s international supporters took his case to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. The Commission in 2010 sided with Good saying, “the expulsion of a non-national legally resident in the country simply for expressing his views…(is) a ‘flagrant violation’ of the (African) charter.”
Good’s supporters opined that his deportation has seriously damaged Botswana’s reputation as a plural democracy, which honours both academic freedom and the freedom of opinion.
The late Australian was respected internationally for his courage, versatility and the fact that he could comfortably ply his trade in any foreign country. Over the years he had published many articles in top journals on Africa.