The Girl Guide who shaped lives of big and small
She may not have one child she calls her own, but she is considered a mother by many in this country because of the role that she played in their lives. For years Sethokgo Sechele, popularly known as Matron Sechele or simply Mma Sechele, has been mentoring young ones as a leader of the Girls Guides and as a matron.
In fact you cannot talk about Girl Guides in Botswana without referring to her as she is one of the ‘girls’ who were in and are still in the forefront of the movement. It is for this reason that the veteran girl guide is our pioneer. Girl guides were formed in Botswana in 1924.
In 1981 she became instrumental in setting up a Girl Guide centre in Extension 12, Gaborone, a place which she is till involved with up to today. The purpose of the centre is to develop the girl’s potential in order to make a responsible citizen in any community. It normally caters for school dropouts. Mma Sechele spoke The Voice of her passion of uplifting the lives of girls regardless of what they would have gone through in their lives.
“My involvement with the girl guides dates from way back and the reason why am still involved with them is because I believe people or girls to be precise should be given a second chance in the event of them having missed the first one.’’
Mma Sechele also worked with all the former First Ladies of the country as they were also involved in Girl Guides and charity work.
“I have enjoyed my years as a Girl Guide and continue to enjoy it because it gives me satisfaction to make a positive difference in the life of another human being.” In fact it is fulfilling in many other aspects.
“I may not be a real mother to anyone but my involvement with Girl Guides has always made me feel like a real mother. All the children that I have been involved with have always been a part of me,’’ she said.
Lady in waiting
Her involvement with the girl guides and empowering the girl child also earned her a position of a lady-in-waiting for former First Lady, Lady Masire. This meant travelling with her almost everywhere she went and assisting her where necessary.
“Besides being personal friends we worked together well and she is still involved in some of the community projects that deal with women.”
Mma Sechele is also well in some circles of those who grew up in the 70s. It was in 1971 that she joined Molefhi Secondary School in Mochudi as a matron. There she became the mother of about many girls and boys.
Little did the Matron know that some of ‘her kids’ – whom she was always on their back to make sure that they had bathed, had clean clothes as well tidy rooms – would one day become top business people, civil servants and politicians.
Some of her children include the co-publisher of The Voice, Beata Kasale, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ndelu Seretse, Permanent Secretaries Segakweng Tsiane and Mothusi Palai, former High Court judge, Unity Dow, University of Botswana vice chancellor, Bojosi Otlhogile and Advocate Sidney Pilane.
Executive Director of Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower(BOCCIM) Maria Machailo-Ellis, Member of Parliament Isaac Mabiletsa and BOCODOL boss and Vision 2016 chairman Daniel Tau are also some of the kids who passed through Mma Sechele’s hands.
“It gives me pride that some of my children grew up to be successful and influential people in our society because I am sure they learnt one or two things from me as their mother back then,’’ said Mma Sechele with a big smile in show of pride of her kids.