The late former President of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire has been laid to rest in Kanye on Thursday.
High profile leaders in the African continent have lauded him for his visionary leadership and promotion of good governance.
Incumbent and former Presidents around the world praised Masire for his role in bringing peace and stability in the SADeC region.
A dignified funeral for the man whose vision shaped the economy of Botswana.
Masire also stood against repressive regimes in the SADeC region, by providing his country as refuge and passage for freedom fighters.
Former president Thabo Mbeki says sometimes Botswana paid dearly for these actions.
“It was inevitable that the apartheid South Africa would make Botswana pay the price, for the role it played in the manner I described. Thus the apartheid forces of repression launched the attacks in Gaborone in 1985, and Mogoditshane in 1986.”
“And yet the pain they suffered, and the knowledge that the apartheid regime located only a few kilometres across the common border would strike again, the sister people of this country did not flinch or waver until the apartheid regime was no more.”
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says in Masire, the whole continent has lost a great leader, whose wise counsel was still needed.
“When he took over as president of Botswana in July 1980, the liberation struggles of South Africa and Namibia were at their peak. President Masire would not be intimidated by the might of the apartheid army into submission, and Botswana continued to render assistance to the liberation movements of those countries.”
Namibians also saw Botswana as their safe haven, as former president Sam Nujoma recounts.
“Thousands of Namibians crossed the border into the Republic of Botswana, when the situation was so difficult. But, whenever we came here, his excellence Sir Ketumile Masire gave us encouragement that do not give up, continue with the struggle.”
And the incumbent Botswana president Seretse Khama Ian Khama says he is grateful to Masire for his visionary leadership, and commits to continue his legacy.
“I feel honored to have followed in the footsteps of these great leaders who have made Botswana what it is today, and why we are proud to be Batswana. May his soul rest in peace, and may we continue to comfort the family with our prayers.”
For Masire’s children and grandchildren, he was a disciplinarian of note, and will be remembered for his avid love for farming.
His daughter Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba says he always pushed them to reach for greater heights.
“We as a family are just so humbled and we are so proud to have had this gentle giant, walking by our side, and being our guide, in terms of how we go about our lives.”
“And guiding us in a way that was not imposing, and guiding us in a way that allowed us to grow and grow differently.”
Messages of condolences came from far and wide, from King Zwelithini in KwaZulu-Natal to United States and China presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jin Ping respectively.
Click video below:African Heads pay tribute to the late Sir Ketumile Masire
Click video below:President Robert Mugabe
– By Itumeleng Kgajane