Sir Quett Ketumile Joni Masire was born in Kanye, Botswana, and was President of the landlocked Southern African state from 1980 to 1998. As a Botswanan statesman he showed that democracy, the rule of law and human rights are the best preconditions to ensure peace, internal balance and stability. Therefore, he was honoured with the German Africa Award in 1998, at the end of his term of office.
Decades before he entered the office of the President, he trained as a teacher and worked at the Seepapapisto Secondary School from 1949 to 1955. A few years later he was one of the founding members of the Bechuanaland Democratic Party, which later became the Botswana Democratic Party and which ruled the country since independence in 1965. For the first two years, he served as the party’s First Secretary before he took over the office of the Vice-President in 1966. Following the death of Botswana’s first President, Seretse Khama, Masire was elected by Parliament to succeed him and took office a few days later. Politically, he continued the democratic line of his predecessor, leaving the South African country one of the most stable and economically successful states in Africa. In 1991 he was ennobled by Queen Elizabeth II. In November 1997 he announced his resignation and took over the chairmanship of African Unity (OAU) and the chairmanship of a Commission of Inquiry that investigated the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in 1998. Masire was honoured for his efforts as a democrat.
The award was presented by Federal President Roman Herzog.