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Fare thee well...Mother of the Nation
27/05/13
Bangwaketse capital, Kanye, came to a stand still this morning (May 25) as the nation bid farewell to former first lady, Mrs Olebile Gladys Masire. Humble, hardworking, compassionate, friendly and mother to all. These words punctuated every speech as speakers at the funeral paid tribute to Mma Gaone, as Lady Olebile was affectionately known. She died on May 17 at Milpark Hospital after a short illness. "She had a place for everybody regardless of their origin or gender," said Lady Olebile's daughter, Mrs Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.

Bangwaketse capital, Kanye, came to a stand still this morning (May 25) as the nation bid farewell to former first lady, Mrs Olebile Gladys Masire.

Humble, hardworking, compassionate, friendly and mother to all. These words punctuated every speech as speakers at the funeral paid tribute to Mma Gaone, as Lady Olebile was affectionately known.

She died on May 17 at Milpark Hospital after a short illness. "She had a place for everybody regardless of their origin or gender," said Lady Olebile's daughter, Mrs Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.

She said they were blessed to have such a loving mother. Most of all, Mrs Mwamba-Masire said, Mma Gaone taught her children to love God, respect their father and family, adding that family to her included friends, hence the name “mother of the nation”.

Mma Gaone was down to earth and always had time to play with children. “Sometimes you would hear girls, in the company of my mother, giggling in the middle of the night,” Mrs Masire-Mwamba said.

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Peter Siele, described Mma Gaone as one of the great people, who helped build the nation after the country gained independence from Britain in 1966.

Although she had six children of her own, Minister Siele said Mma Gaone was a mother to many whom she met from different walks of life, especially disadvantaged children, youth and women. He said the former first lady had left an indelible mark in the history books of nation builders.

Minister Siele said Lady Olebile sacrificed and dedicated herself to the cause of the unemployed and illiterate women. He said her legacy and good works would be remembered, adding that her demise was a loss to government and the nation at large.

The Masire family received messages of condolence from within and outside the country. One of them was from former US Ambassador, Mr Joseph Huggins who described Lady Olebile as the matriarch, not only of the Masire family, but the nation as a whole.

Lady Olebile's brother in law and headman of Go-Motebejane ward, Mr Bontlogile Masire described her as a loving and caring mother who had complemented her husband well in raising his siblings after the death of their parents.

Lady Olebile was born to Mr Fenkwane Mogwera and Mrs Mabu Mogwera at Modimola (Mafhikeng) in 1932. Her mother was born in the royal family of Mr Andrew Tawana-a-Tshidi-a-Mmina Tholo.

She started her primary school education in 1940 at Barolong primary school and proceeded to Tshidi Barolong Junior School, after which she went for a primary teacher’s course at Tigerkloof, where she was also a member of the Girl Guide Movement. After the completion of her course, she worked as a teacher in Mafhikeng and Kanye.

She first started as a friend to Sir Ketumile Ketumile Masire’s sister, Mrs Gaboikaegwe Koma and gradually found herself endeared to the man who married her in the hospital in 1957.The wedding profile was low and only attended by relatives according to the sister, because Sir Ketumile at the time was ill and advised to remain in hospital.

Lady Olebile was a member of the International Organisation of Temple Temperance (IOTT) commissioned as the Special Deputy to the Grand True Templar based in South Africa. The organisation discouraged children from getting involved in the consumption of alcohol and delinquent activities with the view to mould them into all rounded law abiding citizens.

She is survived by her husband Sir Ketumile Masire and six children, three girls and three boys.

Among those who attended the funeral were President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, members of cabinet, MPs, dikgosi and diplomats. ENDS

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