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Tribute to Professor Serara Segarona Selelo-Mogwe

I received news of Professor Serara Selelo-Mogwe’s passing last Saturday from my loving daughter, Thembi with great sadness and sorrow.

Her message was brief: “Rrangwane, Rakgadi Serara Selelo-Mogwe is no more”. My heart froze momentarily.

Professor Mogwe is first and foremost my cousin. The blood that ran through her is the same blood that runs through me. She called my father ‘Malome’. She was part of the larger clan of the Sejies, from whence we come.

I deeply regret that due to my being trapped in the Indian Ocean I cannot be home to pay my respects to my cousin, sister and mentor.

I convey my deepest condolences to the family, relatives, friends and the people of our great nation, who nurtured her to become the towering intellectual colossus she became.

I have the greatest respect and admiration for this extraordinary nurse and teacher of nursing.

My greatest blessing was being her blood relative and having had the good fortune to be close to her; and to earn her trust in many things we did together.

A larger-than-life figure has fallen. An extraordinary nurse of the people has gone to sleep. But her legacy lives on!

The mighty tree that sheltered our people, the rich and poor, the young and old has fallen. Let the spear she carried be picked by many in the nursing fraternity and continue her legacy and make us proud. Let her spirit inspire today’s nurses in the trenches battling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to secure our existence as a nation by sheer selflessness and dedication to duty.

Our country has lost an extraordinary nurse, who healed the sick and heartbroken with total compassion and selflessness.

In Professor Serara Selelo-Mogwe we had an exceptional human being whose kind we may never see again.

From humble beginnings in the dusty streets of our native village of Bobonong, the village famous for ‘Setlhare setala’, to the capital cities of the world and hallowed halls of academia, across the globe, she rose to be noticed on account of her sheer brain power; and claimed greatness on equal footing with Kings, Queens and Presidents!

She used to tell me with palpable pride gore: “Ga gona ledhela la Mmirwa.” She was proud of her heritage.

She was known never to mince

her words on anything. She spoke her mind without fear or favour. She believed that argument, whether in class or at home, may only be won by logical reasoning and persuasion and not threat of force or inducing fear. She believed in freedom of speech and that “mmualebe o bua la gagwe”.

Somewhere in the book of Luke, Pearl will confirm this, it is reported that Jesus spoke about preaching the gospel to the poor, about healing the sick and those who were heart-broken. This is what my cousin has done in her lifetime: healing the sick; giving them unqualified love and attention.

Her life is testimony of the saying that education is the great equaliser.

There is a saying better expressed in Latin - Pearl should have a good go at it: De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est - speak nothing but good of the dead.

This is inconsistent with the culture of critical appraisal that defines academia; of which she was a great proponent. So I must necessarily mention one of her flaws: She was impatient with those amongst us who were lazy and selfish. And I think she also had a healthy dose of mistrust of lawyers - especially the greedy lot.

I end this tribute with a humble call to those with the power to make things happen. Name a street, building or even an open space after her. She deserves the honour. In that way future generations may be inspired to emulate her and make our country a better place to live in.

Farewell Professor Extraordinaire. Farewell the Champion of free speech.

I have accepted it was your time to rest. You ran your race and completed your task as a servant of the people.

We will miss you. My brother Mike, your contemporary, will miss you sorely. He revered you and loved you intensely. He always told me that in matters of brainpower you gave him a run for his money at school!

May the soul of my cousin, sister, friend and mentor rest in eternal peace.

*Professor Justice Key Dingake is a Court of Appeal Judge in Seychelles.

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