Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe who was amongst African statesmen who spoke at the funeral of former President Sir Ketumile Masire has described him as a great man who commanded respect without ever demanding it.
“I shall live forever, with Masire in my heart. As I said, I never had a friend as close as Masire in the SADC. He was the closest to me. The closest to my family. My wife and his wife great friends. May he rest in peace,” Mugabe said at the end of his speech.
The 93 year old Zimbabwean leader poured his heart out as he spoke about Masire whom he described as a gift from God.
“Even on this sombre occasion let us lift the veil that grief has placed on our faces and recognise the wonderful gift of this great man. Words are all we can summon today to help us cope with our grief. We cry to God to grant us solace; to put his balm upon our wounded hearts and help us soldier on as we follow in his footsteps. Why why why was he taken from us? A great friend he was. A hilarious laugh he had. President Masire was a great man who is lost Botswana, southern Africa and the whole continent”, Mugabe said.
For his part former South African President Thabo Mbeki said that even though Masire has departed the world of the living, Africans will still walk tall throughout the world because, “as Africans, we can proclaim to all humanity that from this small acre of Africa was born a son, Ketumile Masire, whose quality of leadership made us proud to call ourselves African”
Mbeki further described Masire as one of African leaders who has set benchmarks which define the essence of exemplary leadership
“Today we lay to rest an eminent son of Botswana and Africa to whom many accolades are due ÔÇô as one of the principal architects of the democratic Botswana which has extricated itself from the curse of being one of the poorest countries in the world, a Botswana of which all of us are proud. As one of our Continental leaders who helped to build SADC, the Southern African Development Community, and served courageously as a Member of the Frontline States. As a co-architect of Africa’s renaissance as he helped the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo to reconstruct and develop their country in conditions of peace and lent a hand to the people of Rwanda to address the aftermath of a terrible genocide”, Mbeki said.
Masire was laid to rest in home village Kanye on 29 June 2017. Among the leaders present at the funeral were President Ian Khama, Lesotho’s King Letsie III, South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy Prime Ministers of Swaziland and Lesotho, Armando Guebuza (Mozambique), Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzanian), and former Botswana President Festus Mogae.