Botswana: Ketumile Joni Masire

Updated March 2000

Ketumile Joni Masire was born on July 23 1925 in Kanye. After completing a teachers training course at Tiger Kloof in South Africa in 1949, he taught for six years at Seepapitso Secondary School.

In 1956 he gave up teaching in order to go into farming, a venture that was short lived. In 1958 he went into journalism, writing for, and eventually editing Terisanyo a Botswana newspaper dedicated to the promotion of democracy.

His political career effectively began in 1966 when he became a member of parliament after which he was given the minister of Finance and Development Planning portfolio. He then became the vice president. On July 18 1980 he succeeded Seretse Khama to the presidency and in 1984 won the presidential elections with a landslide victory under the Botswana Democratic Party.

Masire's terms were characterised by an emphasis on developments through regional and international organisations. Masire was chairman of the Southern African Development Community and vice chairman of the Organisation of African Unity; he was also chairman of the Global Coalition for Africa and a member of the UN group on Africa Development.

He was knighted in 1991 and was the recipient of a number of honorary degrees. He retired his position as Botswana's president in April 1998. He is married to Gladys Olebile and they have six children.


GREEN CROSS INTERNATIONAL 1999 "Biography of Sir Ketumile Masire".