Mrs Clara Olsen’s legacy to Botswana

It’s hard to summarize the legacy of someone so big. I call her a giant even though Ausi Clara had a small frame.  She had a little voice but was firm. I used to tell her that she was a person of contradictions because in stature she was short, with short hair yet so firm and stern. In terms of her legacy, she will obviously be remembered as one of the women who went to parliament and made a difference. The discussions at the time when Ausi Clara was in parliament were heavy and she was very true to the movement and she consistently raised issues that affected women. In those days, parliament was very conservative and being a woman in parliament amoungst many men was a statement on its own. She made women believe that it was possible to reach that level of decision making. She was a pioneer and that to me is her legacy. She was a political pioneer, and also an engine of the Botswana Democratic Party as Executive Secretary. I don’t believe that a woman had done it before and no woman has done it since, so I think that is Mrs Olsen’s enduring legacy in the political arena.

She leaves a legacy of a mother, a juggler. I learnt how to juggle from Ausi Clara; this thing of being at The Gazette until the early hours of the morning. I  remembered it yesterday when I read Pamela’s tribute to her (Mmegi, Friday 31st January)  and I know that she would leave our meetings at Emang Basadi to go to The Gazette and I don’t know if she ever slept.

I think these many roles that women play are some of the things that are her legacy. She showed us that a woman can do it and do it well. So for me it is a national legacy and not just a personal one. She didn’t just teach me, she taught many women and men too that women can do it as well, in parliament, in public office and in the media. The media is not the friendliest place to women, however she managed to navigate it and own it and not because she was a woman but because she was Clara and she was smart, tolerant and assertive. She was all the things that you need in a leader. So to sum it all, I think she leaves a legacy of leadership at national, regional and international level in many different spaces; politics, media, women’s rights. She was a special person and I thank God to have given us Clara and her family for having shared her with us.


Attorney General Athalia Molokomme