February 8, 2012

Diamonds are the ambassador’s best friends

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Ambassador Tebelelo Seretse of Botswana address Maryland Senate.

Ambassador Tebelelo Seretse of Botswana address Maryland Senate.

Her Excellency Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, ambassador of the Republic of Botswana to the United States, charmed the Maryland Senate during a courtesy call Wednesday.

Unlike many foreign guests visiting the State House recently, Seretse has close connections to Maryland, graduating in 1978 with bachelor’s degrees in both accounting and economics from Morgan State University,

“If I do find success in what I do people will say this was a product of the state of Maryland,” Sereste said. “I am who I am today because of Morgan State University.”

Seretse became ambassador last year after serving as a member of parliament and as a cabinet minister. Before that, she worked in the private sector, including serving on the board of the Botswana Diamond Mining Co., the biggest industry there.

“Botswana is the largest producer of diamonds in the world,” said fellow Morgan State alumnus Baltimore Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, in his introduction. “So I want you folks to remember that next week when Valentine’s Day comes.”

Sertetse said Botswana has the highest gross domestic product per capita in Africa due to the diamonds. A former British colony “by choice,” it gained its independence in 1966.

“I think at that time they didn’t know we had diamonds,” Seretse said to laughter. “It was not a very wise move.”

According to the CIA World Factbook, Botswana is larger than California, but has only 2 million people. Its diamond-based economy has suffered in the worldwide recession.

“Botswana is one of the best managed countries in Africa,” she insisted. “We hold the record for being the least corrupt country on the continent.”

“You can Google it and verify for yourselves,”

The ambassador did bring up the high rate of HIV/AIDS infection in her homeland, but overall, she said, “Indeed Africa has some positive stories to tell.”

Lobbyist Bruce Bereano said he helped arrange Seretse’s Annapolis visit after he met her at a D.C. party put own by his old fraternity brother, District Mayor Vincent Gray. (Bereano said his Jewish fraternity at George Washington University was the school’s first to integrate back in the 1960s, allowing Gray to join.)

–Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com

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