Jun – Aug 2021
Masego Mookodi lives in the beautiful country of Botswana in Southern Africa where she was born and raised. Her faith is of paramount importance to her and she is a proud mum of one.
She holds a master’s degree in Labour Law, an honours degree in Labour Relations from the University of Kwazulu Natal as well as a degree in Public Administration and Sociology from the University of Botswana.
Masego has more than 15 years of work experience with various international organisations at Executive level, as well as previous appointments as a member of the Board of Botswana Medical Aid Society and a special adviser to the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority.
AGN: How would you describe your upbringing?
MM: I was brought up in a loving home. My mother was more hands-on with regards to raising me and my four siblings. She has always been very even handed with her affection. Not one of us could ever say she has a favourite child.
My mother is a very giving person in general, not just to our family. As a result of my upbringing where people would visit and I would sometimes have to give up my bed, at times reluctantly; this later instilled in me a greater desire to be more responsive to the needs of others.
AGN: To what extent is family important to you?
MM: Family is of utmost importance to me. There is no question we are there for each other. As far as mine is concerned, there is no doubt we have each other’s backs. My generation and previous generations weren’t overt in expressing how we feel about each other. It was conveyed more through actions rather than words. It’s my view that this is a characteristic of traditional African societies; at least that is the case with the ones I am aware. We don’t verbalise our love.
I’m minded of what happens at funerals where eulogies are expressed but the person who has now passed is not around to hear how people felt about them. I do feel it is important for feelings to be expressed more overtly. I notice the change between my parents and my generation in comparison to younger generations. My daughter and I certainly express our love for each other by saying so. It is a beautiful thing.
AGN: You mentioned you have a daughter. In terms of opportunities available to young girls is there any significant difference between what is available to her in comparison to what was available to you at a similar age?
MM: I didn’t perceive there was any deep seated discrimination between boys and girls when I was younger and that continues to be the case.
While my generation where encouraged to pursue the professions, younger generations are more inclined to follow their passion. When my daughter informed me she wanted to pursue a media career instead of a more conventional profession I was initially taken aback but eventually I came round to her desire to achieve her dreams. I am pleased to say she has made a success of doing so.
AGN: What significant changes in attitude and culture would you say your male compatriots exhibit in comparison to older generations such as that of your parents?
MM: Men are more accepting of their partners/wives being the main breadwinner than previous generations. However, unlike some other parts of the world where there is a growing trend for men to stay home while their partners assume the role of breadwinner, there yet appears to be broad acceptance of men being house-husbands here.
Based on what my parents say who are octogenarian and nonagenarian respectively, attitudes to a woman’s role have changed. When my mother floated pursuing her studies as a young girl she was dissuaded from doing so. Marriage was the path that she was encouraged to take. The universality of that premise is certainly no longer the case here.
AGN: What more would you like to see done about female empowerment in your country?
MM: The country has recognized that more women need to be in parliament. I would like to see more women in leadership positions across the board. We need appropriate mechanisms to make this happen.
AGN: What inspires you to drive forward?
MM: In all humility I believe I have an innate desire to succeed and this has been part of my nature for as long as I can recall. Having said that, when I was a young girl despite my drive, I was also plagued with a fear of failure and this was something that was particularly acute doing the latter part of my studies.
These days, on reflection I view my failures as lessons on the way to success. I am no longer afraid to fail. I am not advocating approaching things recklessly. No. By all means plan well but if things don’t work out dust yourself down, learn whatever lessons are to be learnt and move on.
I like to give things my all but if they don’t work out I walk away with my head held high. What’s next…
AGN: Do you have a secret talent or skill that many people don’t know about but that you are willing to divulge?
MM: I wanted to be an actress when I was younger. Not many people know that.
AGN: What attracted you to become a HR professional?
MM: I have always enjoyed helping others for as long as I can remember so I sought work to enable me do so. My first job was in the labour department where I dealt with people who claimed to have been treated badly by their employer and/or to have been dismissed unfairly from work. It would appear I developed a reputation as whenever tricky cases of gross exploitation presented themselves, such matters would be pipelined to me. As I understand it the view was I would go above and beyond to seek justice.
AGN: Botswana gained independence in 1966. Taking account of what the older generation have to say about the country’s development since independence to date, how do you see things?
MM: Our country has been blessed with good leadership. While one party has been in power since independence we are a democracy that has functioning checks and balances in our system. Our national cake has been used to benefit the country far more so than is evident in other places.
The country’s economic fortunes since independence has been one of gradual improvement albeit with some shocks and contractions along the way due to varying economic conditions.
AGN: Is there a common misconception people have about Botswanans?
MM: In some quarters it is misconstrued that Botswana is part of South Africa. I find this extremely irksome.
AGN: Why should people visit Botswana?
MM: People should definitely visit. We have the most amazing natural spaces, historic landmarks and the deltas are a must see for the fauna as these areas are pristine. We also have the big five. The largest concentration of African elephants are found here.
AGN: What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?
MM: I would encourage a younger me to pursue what she truly believes in, to go after her dreams.
AGN: When time permits what hobbies do you like to pursue?
MM: When I was fifteen I made it into the national softball team. I was the youngest person ever at that time to make it into the national team. I still like to hit a ball but prefer doing so in a more leisurely manner than the game of softball allows.
Golf seemed a good fit in terms of what I was looking for. I bought a set of clubs in 2013 with the intention of starting then but they ended up gathering dust. Fast forward to 2021 and I am finally getting into the swing of it. I have already been to the range to hit some balls.
Cooking is something I am passionate about. I have seriously been contemplating taking a cookery course for modern international cuisine. I have been inspired by the creations I see renowned British Chef, Gordon Ramsay produce on his programmes. I love the style and presentation of the dishes. Nutrition still remains of paramount importance of course.