Ntsebeng Motsoeli MASERU — Veteran educationist and author, Dr ’Masechele Khaketla, died on Thursday. She was 94. Dr Khaketla’s son, Maieane Khaketla, said his mother died of renal failure at Maseru Hospital. Maieane said his mother died of “old age”. “She has had good health for years. She was never terminally ill. She died of old age. However the medical explanation of the cause of her death is renal failure,” Maieane said. Born Ntšeliseng Ramolahloane in Berea in 1918, she was the third daughter of Luka and ’Maphilip Ramolahloane. She went to the Liphiring Lower Primary School from 1925 to 1930.
Between 1931 and 1932 she attended Siloe Higher Primary School. There she made history when she passed Standard 6 (now equivalent of Junior Certificate) final examination with a first class. She was given a grant to further her studies at the Morija Training College from 1933 to 1936 before proceeding to the then Fort Hare University College. She once again made history in 1941 when she became the first Mosotho woman to obtain a university degree when she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts. She started teaching at Thabana Morena Training College in 1942 before she was transferred to Morija Training College later that year. From 1943 to 1948 she was a teacher at the Basutoland High School, now called Lesotho High School before teaching at St Catherine’s College. She returned to her teaching post at the Basutoland High School in 1949 before her husband took their family into exile in South Africa in 1950. Upon their return in 1953, she resumed her teaching job at the Basutoland High School where she worked until she was retrenched in 1984. Her former students include late Queen Mother ’Mamohato Seeiso.
Dr Khaketla will be remembered for her long teaching career and her many firsts which include the founding of Iketsetseng Private School in 1960, the first private school in Lesotho, alumni of which include King Letsie III. She was once again the first woman to be appointed an assessor in the Lesotho High Court in 1979. In 1983 she was the first Mosotho woman to be awarded a Doctorate in Literature at the National University of Lesotho.
The Fort Hare University awarded her a Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy in 2001 and was once again the first Mosotho woman to receive the honour. She is also known for her twelve Sesotho books; three poetry anthologies, ‘Mantsopa, Molamu oa Kotjane and Maoelana a Hlompho, one collection of short stories, Mosiuoa Masilo, and eight dramas, Mosali eo o ‘neileng eena, Pelo ea Monna, Ka u Lotha, Mahopha a Senya, Ho isa Lefung, Moleka ea tšoanang le eena, Khotsoaneng and Selibelo sa Nkhono. She was active in church affairs where she was an active member of the Mothers’ Union in the Anglican Church of Lesotho.
She was married to the late Bennett Makalo Khaketla in January 1946. They had six children, four sons and two daughters. One son and a daughter have since passed on. Dr Khaketla is survived by three sons, one daughter and a son-in-law, three daughters-in-law, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She will be buried on Wednesday at Kokobela cemetery following a mass at the Anglican Cathedral of St Mary and St James at 9 am.
Maieane said they were blessed to have had a mother like her. “She lived her life to the fullest,” he said.