One of the most consequential recent developments in Africa is its rapid rate of urbanization. Over much of the continent, there is a movement from rural areas to urban centers and towns (Hanna and Hanna, 1971). There has been some social science research on this process (Caldwell, 1969; Mabogunje, 1968; Ross, 1975). Additional case studies reflecting original empirical research are essential to social scientists attempting to interpret the nature of the concomitant social and political change. Data generated by such empirical research are also needed by policy makers struggling to fashion policy strategies responsive to the changing urban needs.
On this most rapidly urbanizing continent, one of the countries with the highest rates of rural to urban migration is Botswana. Between 1971 and 1975, its capital, Gaborone, experienced an annual population growth rate of almost 15 percent. In December 1975, the Department of Statistics of the University College of Botswana conducted a major survey of migrants in Gaborone. In this article, we will report and discuss significant survey findings concerning the demographic and social characteristics of migrants, their motives for migrating, places of origin, the disposition of new arrivals in town, and the continuing pattern of rural urban linkages.
In 1966, at the time of independence, Botswana, about the size of France or Kenya, had only three “modern” towns with a combined population of around twenty thousand people. Gaborone, a small tribal village and colonial administrative center, was selected in 1964 as the site for the new capital which previously had been Mafeking, South Africa. Nearly all of the present population are migrants to the new town.