A rising star in the African and global cannabis industry has tragically died. All those who knew her also know they are lucky to have met this remarkable young woman whose light has gone out too soon
Tseli Khiba was a young, female cannabis lawyer from Lesotho who died last week. The news was a shock.
We met via Linked In several years ago because of my interest, involvement, and work in, including sourcing deals and writing about, the Sub-Saharan cannabis industry based out of Germany. I was immediately taken with her energy, her intelligence, her passion for equitable cannabis reform and development, particularly in southern Africa, and her efforts to make that happen. Globally.
I knew I had to write at least one of the memorials already in the works. That is the kind of impact Tseli tended to have on people she met and worked with.
A Global Star on The Ascendance
Although she was a young lawyer, just 33, Tseli’s impact on the world of cannabis, particularly in Africa, should not be understated. She held a Master of Laws, specializing in Commercial Law from the University of Cape Town. She worked for the Lesotho Ministry of Health as well as several large cannabis companies – both from the region and those investing in the market from North America. She was also a member of and advisor to multiple trade and industry groups, from the African Union Expert Committee on Cannabis, and the African Cannabis Advisory for South Africa, to the cannabis legal advisor to Standard Lesotho Bank.
She was also increasingly making her mark at conferences and for her research on the industry not only in Africa but across Europe.
I had been mentoring her on the German market, making introductions, suggesting ideas, and she in turn wanted to show me more of the industry she was a part of on a daily basis in Lesotho. I was supposed to go to a conference she was organizing this spring, until it was sadly canceled for lack of funding. She in turn had reached out to me several times – for help with ideas for investors in the region from Europe and North America or European distributors interested in African cannabis, to finding help from African farmers scammed by fake European-based investors.
I hosted her for a night recently as she made a swing through Germany. We spent a great evening at a local Italian restaurant (her choice) talking about the industry, and her plans to get a Ph.D. on the way to creating a more sustainable path to market for cannabis entrepreneurs in her home country. Ever since she left, I have been noticing all the Italian restaurants in my neighborhood and smiling.
Now that association will mean something else. A moment in time, a short and wonderful evening, snatched from a brief period of her passage here, with a woman who died far too soon, and who will be terribly missed.
I was notified two days after she died, on Sunday. She was the victim of bad weather and bad roads. The single-vehicle crash occurred during a hailstorm and on a road that, while not the worst in Africa, certainly has its issues.
Her brother, Motikoe Khiba, the sole passenger, survived the crash and was able to flag down help and get her to the hospital, where she died the next day from her injuries, surrounded by her family.
In the last week, in the WhatsApp group started by a group of us who knew each other, in part, through her, there were many memories and pictures shared. Perhaps the most poignant came from her mother.
“She died in my arms, but I knew that my daughter made the most of her time on this earth.”
The funeral is yet to be scheduled but will be held shortly.
In the meantime, one of the companies she worked with, Cheeba Cannabis Academy, has begun a scholarship in her name. Contact them directly to contribute.