At the age of four Imelda Molokomme migrated to Cape Town, South Africa with her father. Since it was just the two of them it meant that she had no choice but grow up fast and by the time she was eight she was able to cook and do all the household chores like a grown up.
“I later asked my father why he chose to migrate with me of all his children and he told me he had seen that I was strong and would grow up to be even stronger’’.
And true to her father’s prophecy today Molokomme is counted amongst Botswana’s women who are forces to reckon with.
She is well known for her active role in the gender agenda, in the business circles and in the academic field as she decided to do her degree at the University of Botswana when she was 42 with her daughter, Attaliah Molokomme, the Attorney General being one of her lecturers.
The Activist is born
“When I came back home for my secondary school in Mochudi I was the only girl in a class of seven and fortunately or unfortunately I happened to be the most intelligent. This made me a subject of talk and ridicule by the boys who were somehow bitter that they were being overshadowed by a girl. It was then that I realized it was sometimes an issue to be a girl,’’ she said.
However she did not do anything about it and lived with the situation until at a time when she could voice and be heard.
She later had similar experiences with men being over dominant when she started her teaching career.
“In terms of numbers we were almost equal but men had an upper hand and louder voices. It was like women didn’t exist. And since I was teaching in the rural areas I also interacted a lot with the local women where I realized that women were carrying more than enough on their shoulders.”
She also revealed that she identified with the women because she was married at 17 and thus became a wife, mother and an educator at a very young age.
“In those days the gender agenda was still very foreign but since it was something within me when the time came to advance it, there was no turning back,’’ she said.
Molokomme worked with various women to advance the agenda and became well known as a gender activist. She also worked with Women and Law in Development in Africa and in 2007 was elected president of Emang Basadi.
Currently she runs a consultancy company which among other things trains and coaches women in politics and unions.
Strength of a woman
Despite being at the prime age of 70, Molokomme is still full of energy and seems to be getting stronger.
“I am happy with what I have and the way my children have turned out to be. I also don’t entertain stress which means I always have a piece of mind which in turn leads to a good sleep when I go to bed,’’ she said.
She also revealed that she eats a lot of mabele and vegetables.
“My strength also comes from the fact that I still want to work and share what I have with other people so we all can have better lives.”
When she is away from her office, Molokomme is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She had nine children and has lost two, has 30 grandchildren and four great grand children.
“I don’t want to sound like I am blowing my own trumpet but I have raised powerful women and great sons. We (her and her late husband) taught them about the importance of education and they embraced our teachings,’’ said Molokomme also revealing that she enjoys cooking for her big family.