We can all take pride in our nation's progress since 1966, from an impoverished colonial Protectorate, to an internationally recognised example of a society that has enjoyed record economic growth and social development as a product of peace and good governance.
But, as we celebrate what has been so far accomplished, let us also pause to reflect upon what we can and should still achieve through individual and collective effort to build a brighter future. We owe it to ourselves and those who will follow us to continue to work for a nation that is second to none in the world; while building a society which delivers a dignified life to all.
As we are all aware, the past few years have been economically difficult both here and elsewhere throughout the world. Yet, like those who lived in far more challenging times before us, we still have ample opportunity to take our country further. It is during difficult times as these, that our true character will emerge as to whether we have the resolve and energy to overcome such challenges.
Today's Botswana is the legacy of a generation of visionaries who had the courage to ignore the many sceptics of the time who said we were too poor, too small, too weak to be truly independent. Where others saw hopelessness, they had the power of hope.
They proved the naysayers wrong because they trusted in the wisdom and strength of ordinary Batswana. They recognised that while our communities were then relatively poor in terms of material wealth, they were rich in social values.
Our development as a united and democratic nation has always rested on more than just respect for the rule of law beginning with the Constitution, which legally defines our collective responsibilities to each other, as well as the individual liberties we all enjoy. Our democracy is more fundamentally rooted in the timeless expectation of good governance based on rule by and with as well as for the people.
Our peace and growing prosperity over the years has been nurtured by the shared social values that are further rooted in the collective ideal of Botho, based on mutual respect and individual and collective discipline.
The progress of nations, like that of individuals, begins with a positive mindset and ends with effort. Let us therefore be empowered by the example of yesterday to achieve our own hopes for a better tomorrow.
This year's independence celebrations are all the more special because it marks the beginning of a three year countdown to 2016. As we approach our 50th Anniversary we should appreciate that our nation is once more at a cross roads that requires greater effort and sacrifice.
As I have previously observed, we cannot hope to number among the world's top nations if our work ethic remain nearer to the bottom in global rankings. As a small, landlocked state, we have no option but to compete successfully within a regional and global economy whose playing field does not always favour us.
This fact puts an even greater burden on our human resources. Inadequate productivity therefore remains a key bottleneck to achieving our highest aspirations.
Yet, productivity is not a foreign concept. Our forebears could have never overcome the many challenges of the past in the absence of empowering themselves through the hard working necessary to achieve their visions of a better future for, as we all know in the end God helps those who help themselves. We must do more with less.
Through faith in ourselves and with God's blessing we can have the strength to meet our most daunting challenges, while achieving our highest aspirations. Let us, more especially, continue to pray for good rains. When it does rain, let us further express our gratitude by returning to our fields to reap the earth's bounty and to thank the Almighty for answering our prayers. Finally, let me take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a safe as well as pleasant holiday. Pula!