Ruth Williams, as she was then known in the school, attended Eltham Hill from 1934-1939. She later became Lady Khama when she married Sir Seretse Khama, the first President of Botswana and the heir apparent to the kingship of the Bangwato people. The film, A United Kingdom, tells the tale of their romance and the barriers they had to overcome in England and Botswana due to their mixed marriage.
The tale of the unlikely romance is directed by BAFTA award winner, Amma Asante who previously directed the critically acclaimed Belle and stars David Oyelowo as Sir Seretse Khama and, Oscar nominated actress, Rosamund Pike as Ruth Williams Khama.
Seretse came to England to study Law. The couple met at a party arranged by Ruth’s sister (also an Eltham Hill alumna) and quickly fell in love. The night he met her Seretse told a friend he met, “somebody I should like to be my wife”. The couple faced many hardships from not being able to rent a flat in London, to catching the ire of the apartheid South African government who were worried of a mixed couple ruling north of their border. The South African government appealed to Britain to declare Seretse unfit to rule but despite this their was no threat to their marriage and Seretse eventually became the first president of an independent Botswana.
The School in 1935 when Ruth attended.
Ruth Khama kept in-touch with the school, and sent a message of congratulations to Eltham Hill for its “Golden Jubilee”. She mentioned that there were only 300 pupils on roll at the time in the whole school and that she remembered “Eltham Hill with great happiness and [was] thankful for all it did for me”. She goes onto to say, “We were always taught to have a great sense of loyalty”.
Ruth and Seretse son, Ian Khama is the current president of Botswana.