A Woman of Many Firsts: Dr Chiepe’s Life

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There are many untold stories about African women who have lived extraordinary lives of national service. One of those stories is that of Dr Gaositwe K.T. Chiepe. Her granddaughter, Moduduetso Lecoge, wanted to be the first to finally bring her story to the public, by writing about it and acting it out. The play premiered at the 2016 Maitisong Festival, and now it is back, bigger, better and bolder with an expanded one-hour version for The Maitisong Festival 2018. The story chronicles the life of Dr G.K.T Chiepe from her childhood as a young Motswana girl growing up in Serowe Village in Botswana, the same village where Botswana’s founding President Sir Seretse Khama and his family came from. It tracks her education path through secondary school at the prestigious Tigerkloof College in South Africa during the apartheid era. Thereafter, with the help of the Government of Botswana’s (then Bechuanaland Protectorate) scholarship, she proceeded to Fort Hare University where she was the first black African female to graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology and Botany. Furthermore, she went for her Master’s Degree at the University of Bristol in the UK in the 1950s. She was the first Motswana female to attain a Master’s degree. Dr Chiepe’s illustrious career in education, administration, diplomatic service and politics spans over 5 decades from 1948 to 1999. She was the first Motswana female Education Officer during her time. She climbed the ranks until she became the first female Director of Education. Then she later became the first female African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom after Botswana’s independence. For a long time, Dr. Chiepe was the only female in the Botswana Cabinet; first as a specially elected Member of Parliament and later an elected Member of Parliament for Serowe South. During her life, she achieved a lot of firsts as a young girl, as a working woman and in politics, hence the title of the play A Woman of Many Firsts. Botswana needs to know a bit more about this icon. She has created a legacy by being grounded on selflessness, respect, tenacity and hard work, characteristics of a typical Motswana. She will go down in the annals of history as one of Botswana’s pioneers, championing unparalleled quality education for every Motswana child.  Her legacy and character must live on and be emulated by young women in Botswana and Africa to always become the best that they can be. As Botswana celebrates her 50th anniversary of independence, it is also fitting that a story of the daughter of the soil is told. The play will be showing at the Moving Space (at Maru-a-Pula School) on the 13th of April at 8.30pm, the 14th of April at 6pm and 15th of April at 4pm. Tickets are available for P100 at the Maitisong office and Webtickets.