7 February 2014

Southern Africa: Senior SADC Scribe Olsen Dies

THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) has lost one of its foremost women rights activists who colleagues would fittingly call the 'Mother Theresa' of journalism in neighbouring Botswana.

Clara Olsen, 74, who was the managing editor of The Botswana Gazette and former executive secretary of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, died last Thursday after an illness.

She will be buried today in Tlokweng Village outside Gaborone.

As a Motswana of Batlokwa origin, Ms Olsen will be interred in her house or backyard in accordance with local tradition.

The Batlokwa, who settled in Bechuanaland during the great migration, do not bury their dead in cemeteries.

Ms Olsen, who once worked on several newspapers in Johannesburg, South Africa, including the defunct Rand Daily Mail, has mentored many Batswana journalists including founders and co-owners of The Sunday Standard newspaper, Outsa Mokone and Spencer Mogapi.

A firm believer in SADC regional integration, she also recruited experts from within the region like former Times of Zambia/Sunday Times of Zambia advertising executive Chase Mhango, who died in Zimbabwe two years ago.

In 1989 she and other local investors who included Gaborone magnate Satar Dada took over the Gazette from the founding editor, Al Osman, who returned to Malawi to become President Bakili Muluzi's special assistant for Press.

Ms Olsen was also a leading light at the Media Institute of Southern Africa Botswana Chapter, which she served with distinction.

She is survived by her husband Peter, two children and a granddaughter.

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