Prof Khupe- Mogwe: Pioneering Health Professional

phpA3F.tmpMogwe born in Bobonong, Central Botswana is arguably the most respected name in the nursing profession of Botswana, but it was not an easy journey. Her name is a proud statement on the board of excellence at the Durban-based McCord Zulu Hospital where she became the first Motswana woman to earn a PhD and later become a full professor.

Selelo- Mogwe’s performance at McCord’s training institution was so exceptional that immediately after she earned her diploma in nursing and midwifery, the hospital took her on as a teacher, even though she did not have the qualifications. After completing her first degree in Canada, she tried to return home but found that there was no planning position available for a black woman. So she applied to Zambia and started that country’s first school for registered nurses in Kitwe.

In 1969, Selelo- Mogwe became the country’s first Motswana Chief Nursing Officer and the situation she found in the nursing profession was bleak. In order for one to be accepted to study nursing, they had to have failed their Junior Certificate Exam; as Selelo- Mogwe puts it: “In order to be accepted to become a nurse, you first had to prove you were a failure!” Selelo- Mogwe would make momentous changes in the nursing education system in Botswana during her 10 year tenure as Chief Nursing Officer. First, she restructured the nursing course so that the material could be taught in three years rather than four, facing strong opposition from her counterparts in the Nurses Examination Board for Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (NABLES). Once again, Mogwe defied all expectations when students of the newly restructured course in Botswana consistently outperformed students from Lesotho and Swaziland.

She then went on to pull Botswana out of NABLES altogether so that she could establish Botswana’s own National Health Institute, and go on to restructure the course further so that it suited the needs of people in Botswana. The institute now has five campuses and has educated more than 3000 nurses. Professor Mogwe has also been inducted in to the Nursing Hall of Fame at Columbia University, USA.

“…not someone giving it to me but earning my own (PhD)!” Mogwe

Molaya Kgosi Team