Oliver Kgadime (Phukubjane) Matsepe was born on 22 March 1932 in Tafelkop, Groblersdal district. He was the son of Malua Matsepe, senior police sergeant and the grandson of Chief Bloeu of the Kopa tribe. Although Matsepe came from a non-Christian family, he received his education at mission schools. From 1942 to 1949 he received his primary school education at Phokoane United Christian School at Nebo.
In 1945, however, his schooling was interrupted to enable him to attend circumcision school. From 1950 he furthered his education at another mission school, Botshabelo High School in Middelburg, Transvaal. Here he was baptised and received full membership of the Lutheran Church, also attending confirmation classes at Botshabelo.
In 1955 he completed his secondary education when he matriculated at Kilnerton Institution, a Methodist college in Pretoria.