Her Royal Majesty, Queen Mother Semane Bonolo Molotlegi, was a proud member of the Royal Family, of the approximately 150 000 strong Royal Bafokeng Nation. The Royal Bafokeng Nation is the renowned and visionary traditional community located in the North West Province of South Africa. Her Majesty, the Queen Mother was blessed with six children, Kgosi Mollwane Lebone Boikanyo Molotlegi, Prince Boemo "Fosi" Molotlegi, Kgosi Leruo Tshekedi Molotlegi, Prince Bothata Molotlegi, Princess Motswana Molotlegi and Princess Tirelo Molotlegi.
Her Majesty, as the Queen, and subsequently as Queen Mother, has played a pivotal role in helping the Bafokeng to become the model traditional community it is today. Her Majesty was a strong advocate for the holistic development of communities – focusing on education, health, economic activities, and general wellness. Mmemogolo, “Our Great Mother” (as she is affectionately called) was vociferous against oppression, poor education, and the neglect of rural development. She leaves a legacy of establishing various support and empowerment initiatives within and around Phokeng.
The Queen Mother founded (among others) the Bafokeng Women’s Club; Bahumagadi, a women’s support programme; EPL Memorial Lecture, an annual lecturer to commemorate the legacy of the late Kgosi Edward Lebone Molotlegi, and the Thuto Thebe Educational Fund (Education is a shield) assisting indigent learners in early childhood development. In pursuit of her passion for education and the economic advancement of women, she further served on several Boards, amongst them the Ntataise Trust for Early Childhood Development; and is the former Area President for the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) in Southern Africa; she is a Patron of South African Girl Guides and National Choral Music Awards (NACMA); Chairperson of the IBT - Impala Bafokeng Trust; Ubuntu – Botho, to mention only a few.
As a peace-loving person, Mmemogolo was acclaimed for settling disputes positively, which resulted in harmonious co-existence in the community. Her humility, compassion and insightfulness mixed with her razor-sharp wit and humour, enabled Mmemogolo to transcend many difficult situations. She is an emblem of much that is right with Africa today.
Mmemogolo was highly regarded and recognized both locally and internationally and spoke at several conferences as a public and inspirational speaker. In February 2003, Her Majesty was awarded the Leading Light Tribute by the International Women’s Forum as an achiever who has enjoyed success, not through privilege, but through resilience and perseverance. She was also conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by the University of the North West, in recognition of her role in Nation Building. The honour was also an appreciation of her courage and determination to serve the Bafokeng people during the dark days of apartheid despite the price she had to pay on many occasions. She received many more accolades. However, the greatest tribute was the profound individual impact she had on every person she encountered. She created multiple legacies through her work and instilled values that will guide Bafokeng for generations to come.
Mmemogolo radiated inner strength and a shining light that shone through her passion for music and the arts. Her legacy is evident in the number of Bafokeng youth currently involved in pursuing many genres of music, and the recordings of her sweet melodious voice.
Mmemogolo’s commitment to the Bafokeng people – rather than power – serves as an example of extraordinary leadership in Africa. Her legacy is aptly captured in her own words during an interview 32 years ago, when she noted, “I personally am not a politician neither have I any interests in politics. My concern and love are for the development of the community.” She embodied her devotion to the development of her people until the very end.
May her beautiful soul rest in eternal peace.