GABORONE, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Botswana citizens on Wednesday celebrated the country's 54th Independence Day with reconfiguring ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under normal circumstances, the citizens of Botswana will throng stadiums to learn about how the country gained its independence from the British on Sept. 30, 1966 under the leadership of the late Sir Seretse Khama, the father to the country's former president Ian Khama.
Previously known as Bechuanaland during the colonial era, Botswana is now named after its dominant ethnic group, Tswana, and since independence it has gained international stature as a peaceful and increasingly prosperous democratic state.
Traditionally, this day is characterized by pomp and ceremony. During this time of the year, many citizens of this southern African country visit friends and families to celebrate the country's national day.
It is indeed a special day on which many "of our people are filled with joy, pride and sense of patriotism," said President Mokgweetsi Masisi when delivering his message on the occasion of the 54th Independence Day broadcast live on the national television on Wednesday.
"However, this year, we are marking our independence day in a more somber mood. We all know that the reason for this state of despondency and disruption is occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
As of Sept. 30, Botswana had registered 3, 173 confirmed cases and 16 COVID-19 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the pandemic globally.
"It is indeed sad that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise rapidly in Botswana," added Masisi.
Earlier this week, Botswana parliament approved a six-month extension of the state of emergency as an attempt to curtail the spread of the spread and transmission of the deadly disease.
Although stringent, Masisi said the state of emergency extension is a necessary measure being implemented by the government to contain the spread and transmission of COVID-19.
"I should be in Maun (a tourist attraction are situated in the northwestern part of the country) enjoying with my friends and relatives. But here I am stuck in Francistown," Shadrack Tshepo, who could not travel due to COVID-19 movement restrictions, told Xinhua.
Mothusi Onneile, a resident of Francistown, Botswana's second largest city, told Xinhua that the reconfiguration of the Independence celebrations is necessary since the country is fighting tooth and nail to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic though a painful experience.
Under the state of emergency, restrictions on the movement of people between COVID-19 zones as well as in and out of the southern African country will be maintained since it is the only option to safeguard the lives of the citizens of Botswana. Enditem