Meet the successful and outspoken Dr Tebo Maseko, from Mmandunyane village. The young scientist grew up in the mining town of Orapa from a relatively small family of five members.
Growing up from humble beginnings, Maseko has risen through the ranks to become one of the country’s astute.
She is currently a food scientist at National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC) at Kanye.
The Voice Journalist Onneile Setlalekgosi sat down with the trail-blazer to take a sneak peek into what makes her tick.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description of your academic background?
A. I currently hold three Science degrees, Bachelor of Science degree in Micro-Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
I then went to further my studies in Australia, where I did Master of Science degree in food science, a two-year program.
In 2011 still with the same institution, University of Melbourne I enrolled for a doctorate degree in Agricultural sciences it was a four-year program, the PHD marks my third science degree.
Q. What inspired you to be a scientist?
A. To be honest I have always excelled in science subjects when I was growing up.
I was more of a well-rounded student, I did very well I always graduated in the top five percent of my class.
It can be a bit tricky when you are doing well in everything because it can be difficult to select which career line to take.
Q. So, who influenced your career path?
A. my teachers played a big role in influencing my career path. I enjoyed the subjects.
It is really good to be a scientist.
Q. What’s your role at the National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC)?
A. I am actually a food chemist. I am a senior research scientist under the food chemistry department.
My major role is to chemically characterize food stuff in their related products and to profile food quality.
I assure quality assurance and food safety.
That’s my chief role, quality assurance, and chemically characterize, as in like how much proteins the food product contains.
It is important to know what we feed people.
Q. Talking of chemicals, some are put too many chemicals to increase life span. Your take on that?
A. We in NAFTEC advocate for food that is preservative free, consuming plenty of food preservatives can be harmful to the body in the long run.
Q. Is there any other field that you wish you could have excelled in?
A. Yes, I considered accounts actually, because of this inspirational woman, having grown in Orapa, I used to idolized Setty Leburu who used to be a DEBSWANA accountant back in the days.
Unfortunately, I did not get enough support, hence I abandoned it.
Q. I understand your Job involves a lot of travel, research and a lot of time.
How do you balance your professional life and motherhood?
A. wow, wow I think that is a challenge for every working mother.
For me, I have a bit of support from loved ones in my life, my family and parents.
The man in my life also helps with balancing the whole management, especially with managing the homestead and taking care of children.
I have an 11-year-old daughter. And most of the time when I am at work she is at school, I want to thank the teachers for spending the better part of days with them, then we finish the job in the evening.
Q. What concerns you most in your career line?
A. A concern in my career is that the numbers of women in science are not enough, it is actually a global concern as well.
There are less women scientist, and it can plant doubts in the girl child that science is not for women.
Q. Talking of the girl child, do you feel Botswana is doing enough to protect the girl child?
A. I do not think so! Personally I think Botswana is doing enough to protect the girl child. citing the sebina case, I do not mean to be political, nothing was ever done about it.
In protecting the girl child I hear the voices of women more predominantly than the voice of men, the perpetrators, perhaps if more men and fathers can come out and join the women in the society, maybe we can start seeing a shift.
Q. what words best describes you?
A. I am abitious and a big dreamer.
The essence of Tebo Maseko really is hard-work, determination and commitment.
I am not a quitter.
Q. What differentiates you from any other career woman?
A. hahaha, primarily I think any other career woman has support, in my department there are only three female scientists.
Q. What is your take in the current political landscape?
A. Wow, as you can see I am uneasy I have lots of thoughts in the political landscape, that’s on its own provides an answer on how bad the political landscape is.
The fact that I am even reluctant to have my political views public when you have a healthy political landscape, citizens should be free to utter anything they want anywhere.
I think it is safe to stop there…hahaha.
Q. Do you think Batswana are a happy nation?
A. I do not think Batswana are happy as a nation, there has been some reports that we are the most unhappy nation.
Personally as Batswana I think there are many so many things that make our nation unhappy, the high levels of unemployment in our youth, we find that youths graduates from top notch universities and are roaming the streets jobless.
We also see a lot of political decision that
Decisions that are taken are not for the average Motswana like me.
Q. Tell us about your relations with Sonny Serite?
A. Well yes, I categorize Sonny Serite as my committed partner.
He is my boyfriend and we been dating for so many years.
Q. I understand your partner Serite, was charged last year by the government, your take on that?
A. It was very very bad. I supported him through, I did not think he was guilty of anything.
He was just detained for four days and later on released to enjoy his freedom.
Q. Any political affiliations?
A. I have publicly disclosed it on social media, I sympathize with the UDC.
I am not a card carrying member of the UDC, I feel the current government is not doing enough for Batswana, perhaps if we can see power shifts, maybe we can see a better Botswana.
Q. Do you feel a woman can be her own success story without a man by her side?
A. A man in a woman’s life is her love story! Period, he does not sit in her CV.
In my view I think there is too much pressure for the woman of our society to get married in order to be regarded or viewed successful.
Her personal walk of life and achievements as an indivisual are completely ignored a lot of times.
Q. Would you describe yourself as a celeb?
A. No, absolutely not. I would not describe myself as a celebrity! I am just someone who is highly opinionated and very bold and vocal with opinions.
I do not think I have done that more to qualify as a celebrity.
Q. How many kids do you have?
A. I have one biological child and I definitely would love to have more in the future.
Q. It’s feel good Friday, where will you be this weekend?
A. Travelling. Gaborone is actually not my biggest entertainment spot.
I will be travelling.