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Tributes pour in for Botswana’s Sir Ketumile Masire

Politicians from at home and abroad led the tributes as Botswana mourned the passing of former President Sir Ketumile Masire.

“He had the charisma, people would come and follow his rallies. This man had the gift of the gab,”  said former Speaker of the National Assembly Margaret Nasha.

That charisma, combined with discipline,  focus, democracy and a deep understanding of economics, is how Botswana’s second post-independence leader crafted the country’s famed stability.

One of Africa’s most respected elder statesmen, Masire died aged 91 on Thursday.

“When journalists ask me what made Botswana an economic and democratic success story, I always explain it in two words -Quett Masire. He is an amazing person who I admire more than anyone in the world,” said former Bank of Botswana governor Quill Hermans

A State Funeral will be held for  Masire at Kanye next Thursday, June 29, 2017 , a day after a Memorial Service at UB stadium, Gaborone.

Flags shall remain flying at half mast during the time of mourning, while books of condolence will remain open at Parliament, all District and Sub-District Headquarters and at all Botswana diplomatic missions abroad.

There will be a Lying of State of the Former President at Parliament on Tuesday the 27th of June 2017, to allow the public to pay their respects.

Among the first to lay respect at Parliament on Friday was President, Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, where he signed a book of condolence in remembrance of the late former President Sir Ketumile Masire.

From abroad, The Mo Ibrahim Foundation led the condolences that are expected to follow the news, with a message saying “Africa today lost a great statesman and role model. We at the Foundation will greatly miss his wise counsel, guidance, and his humour.”

The message from the AU said, “The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat, wishes to extend sincere condolences to the Masire family, the Government and the people of the Republic of Botswana on the passing of Dr. Quett Ketumile Joni Masire on 22 June 2017.”

“A true Pan-Africanist, Dr Masire made invaluable contributions in seeking peaceful solutions to challenges in African countries such as in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Ethiopia, Somalia, Lesotho the DRC, to name but a few,” noted Chairperson Faki.

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Botswana mourns

“I think Rre Masire has a way of handling people—he is straightforward, he laughs. When you go to a meeting or an event, you don’t say, “have you seen Masire somewhere?” because you just need to listen. He will be with people, just laughing. You just hear this laugh and know where he is. You couldn’t miss his voice and laugh. You hear him through the door. He made everybody feel that they were part of it, there were no strangers at BDP meetings”. – Former long-serving Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament Dr. Gaositswe Chiepe

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“I saw Masire for the first time as a teenager at a political rally in the 1960s. He had the charisma, people would come and follow his rallies. This man had the gift of the gab, when he addressed meetings at kgotla you just had to listen. What I loved about him was that when you asked questions, even provocative, he would never allow himself to be provoked. He would never dodge questions, no matter how potent. He also had a way of addressing annoying people in a manner that even the person asking the question would laugh at themselves. I loved the way he talked to these people. I always wondered why he could not convince his own people, the Bangwaketse, to vote for him. It annoys me why people of the same feather cannot support their own.” – Former Speaker of the National Assembly Margaret Nasha.

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“He is a true Democrat–his tolerance of people was amazing. He would tolerate everybody and you could speak to your heart’s content. He took me like his son to be precise. I took him to be my father, and also my political mentor. He was a very principled person, very principled.” – Daniel Kwelagobe, in an interview earlier this year. 

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“He had the knowledge of the country, of the status of Batswana at that time. He knew their values, value systems, idioms, he knew about botho, about the importance of not doing things that were shameful to yourself, your kgotla, and your community. He also concentrated on the idea of mmualebe–that people should be allowed to speak. His sense of humour and sense if understanding all people in Botswana, and his ability to communicate with people was what took us forward in terms of concepts and ideas that people did not appreciate at the beginning.” – Former Vice President Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe

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FROM AFRICA

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One comment

  1. I worked for the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission 2000 to 2006. Least did I expect the job would thrust me into same space with African luminaries such as Sir. Ketumile Masire with whom we observed and interfaced in several elections in Africa. A great man with boundless humility. It was such an honour to work with this great son of Botswana and Africa. He has served his people well and takes his place amongst the heroes of Africa with pomp and dignity. Rest in peace, great leader.

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