How a career in Public Relations helped shape an African Royal
Ewetse Khama, a PR executive with the APO Group, a major Pan-African Public Relations firm has traded in his career to claim his birthright and to serve his people as a member of a prominent royal family in Botswana. PRESS HERE TO READ MORE & Ewetse’s chance meeting with our editor-in-chief, Charles Anyiam in Doha, Qatar..
To some, it might seem like an unusual career trajectory, but for Ewetse Khama, working in the Public Relations industry in Africa has been the perfect preparation for the next step in his unique journey.
Recently, Ewetse stepped down from his role at APO Group (www.APO-opa.com), the pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, to serve his country and his people.
This year, Ewetse’s father, Sekgoma Tshekedi Khama, retired from active duty. This made way for the eldest son, Ewetse to assume his father’s role as a Kgosi – a Batswana term meaning ‘Chief’, ‘King’ or ‘Elder’ – in the Khama Family, one of Botswana’s most prominent royal families.
The Khamas have a long and illustrious history in Botswana. Ewetse’s paternal uncle, Sir Seretse Khama, served as the country’s first President after independence in 1966, and was the subject of a Hollywood film – A United Kingdom – about his marriage to English woman Ruth Williams. Sir Seretse’s eldest son, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama was Botswana’s 4th President from 2008-2018.
Botswana is one of the peaceful countries in Africa, which Ewetse attributes partly to the role that traditional leaders play as a conduit between government and the people, especially in promoting harmony and understanding.
That might be one of the reasons the PR industry has been such a good fit for Ewetse, helping prepare him for the big challenges that lie ahead.
“I felt that I needed to do things for myself and forge my own career, instead of relying on my name or status,” Ewetse says. “As a Khama, I had so much choice in life because many doors were always open to us, I could do or be anything I wanted. But I have always felt strongly about communications and working with people, so PR seemed like the perfect choice.”
Working within the PR Agency division of APO Group has given Ewetse a grounding, and a sense of normality. It has also broadened his horizons internationally and given him new perspectives on Africa after being educated in Europe. Ewetse believes his PR career – and his time at APO Group – will help make him a better leader.
“I’m a good listener, who is essential in PR. You listen to what somebody has to say, then you help them develop their ideas, and connect with their audiences. The key appeal to me is that Public Relations is really about creating opportunities for people.”
Ewetse’s work with APO Group has certainly helped him do that. He has offered a guiding hand to many multinational organizations looking to navigate the diverse African media landscape. His experience and local knowledge have enabled those companies to succeed in markets that are often difficult to crack. Like all his APO Group colleagues, Ewetse is passionate about Africa, and provided customers with ‘on-the-ground’ networking and support.
As APO Group Chairman, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard (www.Pompigne-Mognard.com) explains: “Not everyone in our team is from African royalty! But they are all deeply attuned to the people, country and region in which they live and operate. Ewetse’s extraordinary story epitomizes our commitment to local expertise.”
Ewetse is now looking to bring the communications skills he homed in the PR industry into his new role as a Kgosi – a Batswana term meaning ‘Chief’, ‘King’ or ‘Elder’ – where his responsibilities include fostering local consensus and governance while also promoting social welfare and the economic empowerment of disadvantaged groups.
“My time at APO Group has been an important part of my career, and I am proud of the work we have done to help our multinational clients and drive business into African economies. I have great memories of the people and the experiences I have enjoyed along the way. They will stand me in good stead as I take this next exciting step!”
Even though Ewetse has now moved on to serve his community and country, he will be remembered fondly by his former colleagues.
“Ewetse will always be a valued part of the APO Group team – a colleague and a friend,” Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard says. “We will miss him, of course, but APO Group’s loss is Botswana’s gain. His nation is lucky to have him.!”
POSTSCRIPT: Inside the Departure Lounge at the impressive Doha International Airport in Qatar was a chance meeting between Ewetse and myself early last year, just before COVID-19 while we were en route to Johannesburg, South Africa. Ewetse was to connect to Gaborone on his way back to his native Botswana after covering the 2020 NBA All-Star tournament in Chicago, while I had just endured a brutal 18-hour flight to Doha from Los Angeles. After a rather awkward introduction, we were to find out that we had a lot more in common, professionally. From thence on, we engaged each other in an animated banter about professional matters, politics and what-have-you, as journalists are intuitively wont to do.
In our short encounter, Ewetse hardly betrayed his royal lineage. We later promised to stay in touch, exchanged business cards as we boarded our Qatar Airlines flight to Jo’burg. Somehow, we managed to lose contact partially due to the vagaries and demands of the global pandemic.
It was therefore a breathtaking surprise when a story about him dropped on my crowded desk. Also sitting pretty on my desk was Ewetse’s business card! Initially, I did not make the connection until I read the entire story, a PR news release from his former employers – APO Group. As you would imagine, my shock knew no bounds as I prepared to use this piece.
Finally, on behalf of all of the team at The African Times-USA, and our new flagship publication, www.theafricantimes.com we are delighted to be giving up an ululating shout-out to His Royal Highness Ewetse Khama of the Bamangwato people of Botswana!
May your reign be long! And may the new Kgosi live long! – Editor