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5 African First Ladies Who You Probably Didn’t Know Were Professional Schoolteachers

There have always been questions here and there about what profession makes the best wives, but different individuals seem to have different preferences. Here are ten African leaders who found their better halves in the teaching profession. Does this conclude that schoolteachers make best spouses, or rather best First Ladies?

Betty Kaunda

She was born Beatrice Kaweche Banda on 17 November 1928 and was the wife of Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda, and the First Lady of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. She was locally called Mother of Zambia. She had her early education at Mbereshi Girls, underwent training at Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation’s Women’s programme and worked as a teacher in Mufulira.

Betty was married to Dr. Kenneth Kaunda in 1946, who was involved in freedom struggle at the time and later went on to become the first President of independent Zambia in 1964. Betty was the strength behind Dr. Kuanda all through their 66 years of relationship until she passed on 18 September 2012.

Maria Nyerere

She was born Maria Waningu Gabriel Magige on 31 December 1930. Mama Maria, as she is locally known, served as the inaugural First Lady of Tanzania from 1964 to 1985. Nyerere was educated at the White Sisters’ School at Nyegina, followed by Ukerewe School, then as a boarding scholar at Sumve Teacher Training College where she received a teaching certificate, and began teaching at Nyegina Primary School in Musoma. She married Julius Nyerere in 1953.


Sarah Francesca “Sally” Hayfron Mugabe (6 June 1931 – 27 January 1992)

She was the first wife of Robert Mugabe, and the First Lady of Zimbabwe from 1987 until her death in 1992. She was popularly known as Amai (Mother) in Zimbabwe.

She was born Sally Francesca Hayfron in 1931 in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). She went to Achimota Secondary School, and then went on to university to study before qualifying as a teacher. She met her future husband, Robert Mugabe, in the Gold Coast at Takoradi Teacher Training College where they were both teaching, and went with him to Southern Rhodesia, where they were married in April 1961 in Salisbury (present-day Harare).

Fathia Nkrumah

She was an Egyptian and the First Lady of the newly independent Ghana as the wife Kwame Nkrumah, the country’s first president.

She was born Fathia Halim Ritzk in Egypt on February 22, 1932. After completing her secondary education, where she studied French, she worked as a teacher at her school in Zeitoun, Notre Dame des Apôtres. As teaching did not appeal to her, she took a job in a bank.

Salma Kikwete

She is a Tanzanian educator, activist, and politician who served as the fourth First Lady of Tanzania from 2005 to 2015 as the wife of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. She was attending Nachingwea Teacher’s college in 1985 when she met Kikwete who was then the Party Secretary for Nachingwea district. Before she became the First Lady, she was teaching at Mbuyuni Primary at Oysterbay area in Dar-es-salaam.


Written by How Africa

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