Remembering Peter Woto, a natural born leader


ZWENSHAMBE: The late Peter Isafe Woto has been described as a natural leader who contributed immensely in the socio-economic and political development of the country and its citizenry.

Former Botswana National Front (BNF) activist, Woto, succumbed to an undisclosed cancer ailment passed on April 9, 2015 and was buried in his home village of Zwenshambe this past weekend.

At the funeral, speaker after speaker spoke passionately about his good deeds, which set him apart and earned him a special place in many people’s hearts.  Hundreds of Batswana from diverse socio-political backgrounds converged in Zwenshambe to give Woto a farewell befitting a man of his social stature.

Former minister and Tati West Member of Parliament, Mbiganyi Charles Tibone, also a close relative of the late Woto described him as a God sent leader who shed light to transform lives of his people.

He cited the establishment of Zwenshambe Secondary School and the village brigade as some of the community projects Woto had pioneered, together with other like-minded villagers. Charles further said that at the time, the little known Zwenshambe had no developments and was besieged with limited education opportunities, as there wasn’t even a decent school in the area.

“Rre Woto was truly God sent to shed light to his people and he contributed in no small measure in community development and Zwenshambe secondary school and the village brigade were his brain child together with other community members who shared the same vision in education,” he said. Woto who was described as a good listener, counsellor and peacemaker was celebrated. A representative of the grandchildren, Chipo Woto recited a poem to extol his grandfather whom she thanked for being patient as he taught them their culture and encouraged them to work hard to reach their life goals.

Long time friend and a colleague, Dingaan Mulale, spoke at length about his bosom friend. “He was as a resilient individual who never shied away from tackling challenges he faced head on,” he said. 

Mulale, an orator with a sense of humour had his audience in stitches throughout his speech as he narrated the life he led with his friend from their difficult but rewarding journey through education to their professional lives.

“Woto and I were friends from the time we were boys, right through into our adult life. However, our friendship stood on shaky grounds when he became a teacher while I was still a student. I found it difficult to follow him to the teachers’ quarters even when he encouraged me to do so. At the time teachers were a feared species. Luckily, I later joined him in teaching and our friendship was back to normal and I later became his headteacher,” he said.

The president of BNF and Umbrella for Democratic Change, Duma Boko thanked the family for supporting the late Woto in his chosen political career at a time when it was unpopular and financially taxing to be in opposition politics, saying they learnt a lot from him. 

Tati West MP, Biggie Butale was terse in describing him, saying that Woto was a ‘sweet, soft but powerful man.’ A well-decorated man, Woto demonstrated admirable leadership skills in various positions he held. As educationist, he also served as a head teacher six years after joining the profession. Upon attaining a Bachelor of Arts degree with concurrent certificate in Education, he joined the then public service as an under study director in the department of non-formal education. He later became Chief Education Officer –non-formal education upon his return from United States of America where he studied for Master of Science (MSc) in adult literacy at the university of Wisconsin.

The late Woto was a farmer and served in several farmers associations’ as chairperson among them the regional crop production association called Tonota, Tutume –Masunga (TOTUMA) and Nata farmers association that dealt with beef farming. A staunch member of the BNF, Woto rose through the ranks and became the vice president under the late Dr Kenneth Koma.

Woto also served as chairperson of both Zwenshambe community junior secondary school and Zwenshambe brigade. He was a headman of Phandu ward in Zwenshambe.

Woto is survived by his wife Maria Woto, five children,13 grandchildren and one great grandchild.  May his soul rest in peace.

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