For the longest time, ‘skinny’ has been used to define sexy. Plus-size model Precious Mokotedi is defying the odds by shuttering stereotypes on being thick.
The fashion model has been strutting runways locally and internationally adding more piece of gold to her profile with something that has been shunned for years. More often than not a thick girl is curvy in all the right places which is what Mokotedi serves naturally without hesitation. Even though skinny is viewed as acceptable, what defines an African woman better is that extra meat and the curves we swing every day.
This is what tells the rest of the world that we are African. Prototypically, it is our pride and heritage. Now that people have adopted the western culture, losing weight has been imposed on a lot of people. Shedding weight for health reason is fine, but society and media cannot choose what is beautiful and acceptable. After being told to lose weight, Mokotedi shared with WeekendLife that, that was the moment she knew she had to turn tables around to shun empty talks on women who are curvaceous. “I was constantly being told that I would look beautiful if i lost weight. I decided to step into the limelight, just as i was, without changing a thing about myself, and reshape beauty standards. I decided to live up to my own expectations and standards,” she said. Confidence makes plus-size models to stand out. She attested that it takes a lot to stand in the spotlight, "flawed" and all, and not back down. “I admire all models whose careers are built on reshaping beauty, especially plus-size models,” she said.
She came into the industry through a pageantry as a contestant in Miss Plus-Size Universe Botswana. Thereafter she walked in a number of fashion shows including Fashion without Borders and Busisiwe Bantshi Fashion Show. She also did fashion shoots representing brands such as Rock Culture and Top Model Botswana. Adding more to her profile, she also featured in music videos with the likes of Girly O Dibodi and Tlamelo Malebe. “My most recent job is an ongoing project in progress, which I've been leading internationally, yet to be revealed. With the limited opportunities for plus size models in Botswana, I believe I've built quite a profile,” she said.
When starting off her career, she admits hitting her rock bottom and brining many walls just to be where she is today. “I hit so many brick walls in my quest to grow. The sabotage, the judgement, the rejection, the criticism, blow after blow, it took a lot for me to overcome opposing forces. Somehow at the end, it fueled my motivation to keep on pushing. My parents were have always been supportive, i can definitely say they gave me immense support throughout my journey. I could write a pretty thick book about everything they have done and all that I am still doing for my career,” she said.
Being a plus size fashion model is not a walk in the park as people often prefer the petite ones. Hence she played her game right to climb her ladder of success. “I have grown thick skin to the criticism. Modeling is an art, the beauty of art is the diversity in unique creativity. I represent my own kind of beauty, that doesn't mean everyone will like it, but i do, that is what matters most to me. I appreciate my own kind of beauty,” she said. One of the people she look up to in her career is Canadian fashion model with a rare skin condition called vitiligo, Winnie Harlow. “I absolutely adore Winnie Harlow. She is not a plus size model, but she represents her own unique image, another shape of beauty. Absolutely inspiring,” she highlighted.
Today she lives to educate fellow women on self-acceptance and not to succumb to what society view as beauty. One of the highlights of her career is motivating other young girls who live under the pressure of people's standards. “I get a lot of messages from girls everyday who look up to me, that's the highlight of my career. I strive to see a world where girls are comfortable in their own skin, that’s the world I want to live in,” she hinted. Her lesson learnt throughout her career is to always utilize constructive criticism to her benefit.
“One can always learn a lot from other people, no matter how sure you are in what you know. There is always a room for improvement and growth. Never get too big for your own shoes,” she urged. The gorgeous University of Botswana thick model is eyeing bigger things especially in reshaping the narrative amongst people about being thick.
“There is so much i want to achieve, part of which is to introduce more opportunities for plus size models especially in Botswana. We are the underdogs, i want to be the person to change that,” she said.
A job, lucrative or not, is a job after all. Sometimes one has to compromise in order to make a living, few people get a job their dream jobs. But once in a while there is an emergence of people who listen to their inner calling to pursue their passion.
The founder and head designer of Butterfly Couture, Chawa July is one of those few people who left their job to pursue their passion. An inspiring fact about July is that she is a self-taught fashion designer, she used to copy patterns from her old clothes until she learnt how to draw them, and she also searched information from the internet to increase her knowledge and skills.
“It all started as a hobby from my love for beautiful dresses and I started adjusting and making clothes for myself. Gradually people around me started to take interest in my craft and the hobby slowly grew into a profitable business,” July said.
The 41 year fashion designer from Molepolole worked her way up in the Procurement space for over 10 years. She worked at Stanbic Bank, Kromberg & Schubert and Clover Dairy as a Procurement supervisor. Her last job before she entered the fashion industry was a Manager for Contacts & Sourcing at a Facilities Management Company.
She established her fashion house in October 2019 and it has become synonyms with elegant wedding gowns and exquisite evening wear. July said when designing she is inspired by various aspects such as the client’s personality, the mood of the event and the theme. She further mentioned that every opportunity is to show her craft so she always aims to please.
“Every Butterfly Couture piece must represent the elegance and the creativity the brand is about,” she said. Butterfly Couture has adorned beauty queens; Miss Botswana 2021/2022 Ambrociah Samboko at Miss Universe in South Korea and Miss Botswana 2019,Oweditse Fafah Phirinyane during her reign of which is the highlight of her career. They have also marked their presence in a few fashion events locally and in the neighbouring countries.”
They showcased at The Grand Palm Wedding Expo, Masa Fashion Show, Miss Botswana Fashion Show and Sacunda plus Size Fashion Show. The will also be showcasing at Gabs July Fashion Show on the 15th of July alongside the South African designer, popularly known as the King of glamour David Tlale.
July also identified that one of the challenges they face in the couture is that, it’s a seasonal business. “There are times in the year when the business is great and challenging. Winter in particular, is difficult time to stay afloat as there aren’t as many events that people are inspired to dress spectacularly for,” she said. She further said that her aim is to be a prime couturier of choice in Botswana.
“Craft like your life depends on it because every happy client is 10 more referrals” is what she said when asked to serve a word of wisdom to people hoping to make it in the fashion industry.
The Botswana Gospel Music Awards (BOGMA) and the Annual Gospel Awards (AGA) are said to be no longer in existence and a joint venture project has been put up that will carry out the awarding of gospel musicians.
The new entity has been established as Gospel Music Awards, which is a project at this moment is nearer to dishing out the first Gospel Awards under the leadership of the dissolved entities (BOGMA and AGA). “The difference is the same, it is just that the two projects were run by different minds which had differing objectives,” said the project coordinator, Letsweletse Moshabi when asked what the difference was between the two previous awards.
He added that at this junction their focus is on the future of the gospel musicians and they would like to direct their energies to the new project and forgo the past projects. “The Music market especially the gospel genre is too small and that basically means the very small market was experiencing the imbalance in the supply and demand forces. At that stage, supply was more than the demand so the reason for the joint forces is to allow the supply and demand forces to readjust and form equilibrium,” added Moshabi.
The mandate and objectives of the project are to recognize and award gospel music talent, to create awareness of the Botswana gospel music industry and to create a platform where fellow musicians may exchange ideas and network amongst themselves and approach international markets in cohesion.
The first of these joint awards will be held on the 27th August 2022 at Molapo Showcase under the theme ‘Cohesiveness to Build’ where about 18 categories will be up for grabs.
The Kumnandi Ekhaya musik festival will be held on the 30th September 2022 at Thamaga village. The event coincides with the release of famous host, Dj Ngwazi’s first album called ‘spring day’ on the 2nd of September 2022.
The Thamaga born and raised Lefika Lushen Kebatlege is a disc jockey and a music producer signed under WanitwaMos Entertainment in South Africa. Famously known as Dj Ngwazi and formally known as DJ superstar, he has really worked hard to become one of the finest export DJs the country has produced. Internationally, he is described as a DJ from South African because of his works with popular music artist Master KG.
Meanwhile, the music festival will feature South African artists, Makhazi, Master KG, Prince Benza and Mthunzi. They will also be joined by some of the big local artists, Franco, Vee Mampeezy, among others. “The tickets of the concert will be available at Spar stores, webticket and Kings bar. There will be three categories for VIP tickets, the one that goes for P1000, P1500 and P2200,” said the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest promoter Sadie Swartz of Saysay Entertainment.
“We have a new system to tackle the cry of promoters about security at the events. We will have a team of 100 security men, 10 horses and 15 dogs. We also agreed with the police to help with traffic control and no tickets will be sold at the gate to avoid circulation of money which can attract thieves,” said Kagiso Gaodumelwe from All Night Security.
“I started deejaying back in the days when I was still schooling at Kagiso Senior School and I never stopped working towards my career since then. I have a career in South Africa, since 2018 when Master KG took me in and his support as a brother has taken me to places,” said DJ Ngwazi describing his career journey.
“Kumnandi Ekhaya is Zulu language which means ‘go monate ko gae’ in Setswana. The name came about as a way of inviting my South African fans and supporters to my home village Thamaga to come experience the joy that comes with celebrating our freedom and independence. I used isiZulu because it’s the dominant language in South Africa,” explained Dj Ngwazi.
“The concert will be held in an open space which was used for agricultural purposes and we would like to call it ‘Ko Legoleng’. With this concert I want to redeem the dignity of our village because we once had the cases of youth who were terrorizing the community, beating up people in the streets and stealing and these was really a concern in our community because they were tarnishing the village name,” said Dj Ngwazi.
The purpose of this concert is to empower the community of Thamaga and local artist, more especially artist from Thamaga village like, Kgabo Sereto traditional group. There will be a litter picking campaign around the village before the launch of the concert .The sponsors which are already on board are Dladleng Entertainment and Kings bar and there are still more sponsors to be revealed.
”As the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest management, we are going to buy food combos and take them to Thamaga village Kgotla so they can be donated to the less privileged and orphans. Starting from October we will be donating pads to all Junior Schools in Thamaga,” said Dj Ngwazi. Dj Ngwazi’s motivational words to other artist and everyone else; work hard, be patient and be determined.