Gaositwe Keagakwa Tibe Chiepe

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Gaositwe Keagakwa Tibe Chiepe

Intellectual, educator, diplomat, politician, and cabinet minister of external affairs of Botswana, Gaositwe Keagakwa Tibe Chiepe (born 1926) was instrumental in the formulation of the Botswana educational system and represented Botswana as high commissioner and ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to many European countries. Chiepe began serving as a cabinet minister of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in 1974.

Gaositwe K. T. Chiepe was born in Serowe, daughter of T. and S. T. Chiepe (nee Sebina). She went to primary school in Serowe and then proceeded to Tigerkloof, South Africa, for secondary education, after which she went to the University of Fort Hare, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree and postgraduate Diploma in Education. She later went to the University of Bristol, England, for a Master's degree (1958). Her thesis for that degree was entitled "An Investigation of the Problems of Popular Education in the Bechuanaland Protectorate in the Light of Comparative Study of Similar Problems in the Early Stages of English Education and in the Development of Education in Yugoslavia and Uganda." She also held honorary doctorate degrees from the Universities of Bristol and DePaul. She was awarded national honors by both Great Britain and Botswana and was named Chief Councillor of the Royal Order of King Sobhuza II (Swaziland). She was a member of Parliament (M.P.) for Serowe South, Central District of Botswana.

G. K. T. Chiepe was the first woman education officer of Botswana. She served as assistant from 1948 to 1953; education officer from 1948 to 1953; education officer (with administration and inspectorate duties) from 1953 to 1962; senior education officer from 1962 to 1965; deputy director of education from 1965 to 1967; and director of education from 1968 to 1970. She was national deputy commander of Girl Guides in 1953, 1957, and 1963; chairman, Botswana Branch, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), 1981; and chairman of the Africa Region of the CPA, 1981-1983.

Chiepe was the first woman to be appointed a cabinet minister. She was minister of external affairs, 1984-1995, after being previously cabinet minister of mineral resources and water affairs, 1977 to 1984, and minister of commerce and industry, 1974-1977. She had also been Botswana's high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Nigeria and ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Belgium and to the European Economic Community (EEC). She actively participated in negotiations with EEC for Lome I, Lome II, and Lome IV and was chairman of the OAU (Organization of African Unity) council of ministers.

Chiepe traveled widely in southern Africa, Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, China, the Caribbean, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the Pacific Islands. She was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (1973), honorary president of the Kalahari Conservation Society (1982), and patron, Forestry Association of Botswana (1984).

Further Reading

For additional information on G. K. T. Chiepe, see F. Morton, A. Murray, and J. Ramsay, Who Is Who in Botswana (1989); E. Kay, Who Is Who in Southern Africa (Gaborone, Botswana: 1987); The International Who Is Who 1987-1988, 51st edition (London); T. Tlou and A. Campbell, History of Botswana (Gaborone: 1984); and F. Morton and J. Ramsay, The Birth of Botswana (Botswana: 1987). □