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On the wing: Botswana’s flying women

Soaring across the world at the controls of some of the most sophisticated airliners is, for many, a dream job. The road to an aviation career is undoubtedly not an easy one― more so for aspiring female pilots. Today, some Batswana women have come to the party, and are shattering the glass ceiling of aviation. DAVE BAAITSE peeps into the careers of five high-flying women from various backgrounds in Botswana.

Aviation is still regarded by many Batswana as a male industry while women are associated with some office jobs regarded as less demanding. However, some women have chosen to disregard the stereotypes and pursue their passion for flying. One such is Tshepiso Tsayang who is of the view that the journey, discouraging as it is, requires perseverance.

Tsayang knew she wanted to a career in aviation from an early age, but after completing her BGCSE she was told she was too short to be a pilot. To compound matters, she had missed the deadline for government sponsorship. With the support from her parents, trust and faith in God, she managed to pull trough. Her parents taught her that this industry demands one to have strong faith. After waiting another year, Tsayang applied for government sponsorship and the rest is history.

“I always say if you know someone who has done it so can you. You believe most what you think and say about yourself more than what anyone has to say about you, so never doubt yourself,” she said. For many a young women pilots, Sakhile Nyoni-Reiling remains a role model. Nyoni-Reiling started her career as a pilot in the 80’s and was the first female pilot at Air Botswana. Tsayang considers her, along with her father to be her role models.

“I believe my inspiration came from childhood. I would visit my dad’s workplace and see planes all the time, this somewhat had a huge influence in my career choice. I am also a very hyper active and energetic individual and when choosing subjects in high school I planned for careers that would see me becoming hands- on and not office based,” she said.

She late found herself drawn into aviation and she vividly remember as a child her dad telling a story about the first and only female pilot working for the national airline at the time (Nyoni-Reiling). “I thought I too wanted to be different and unique just like her,” she recalls.
She says during training she had to work twice as hard to prove that she could do it and that she could even fly better than the guys.

“Because of the general perception that males are better than females there's also passenger fret. Being a young female pilot I get passengers at the airport stopping me every now and then to ask if I'm the one flying the plane, and the question is usually followed by “as small as you are will you manage. The biggest challenge I’d say is family. We have to compromise a lot in terms of family because we don't always get weekends or public holidays off to spend time with our loved ones like everyone else,” she said.

Her hope and dream is to see more women in the industry bridging the gap between across gender. Another gladiator, Kaone Kamanakao is a young girl from Motopi in the Northern- Western part of Botswana. She is a certified commercial pilot and a Grade II flight and ground instructor. She holds both South African and Botswana pilot’s licences. Her desire and inspiration is to share her success aviation story with those around her.    

“I have had the privilege of training local pilots like Gabedi Mo as well as mentoring young women and men that seek to have an established career in the aviation arena. I have work experience as a flight instructor, line pilot, flight operations manager and I currently serve as a flight operations inspector for the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana.” Kamanakao currently serves as President of Women in Aviation In Botswana as well as the Executive Director of the Girl Fly Program Africa in Botswana.   

In line with the nation's 2036 goals (2nd pillar) Women in Aviation Botswana was set up for the promotion and advancement of women in the aviation sector. “We encourage skills development in a field that we seek to mentor and facilitate the growth of women and men through our various programs including scholarships for aviation training and community outreaches. This year as we launch the Girl Fly Program Africa in Botswana, we will send 50 girls to an annual space camp in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The 5 day camp will be made up of different activities including robotics (drones), aviation technology, personal growth and possible career paths in aviation,” she said. They have also availed the opportunity to (10) out of school youth as volunteers. Another gemstone, Genevieve Micaela Chisale is a young lady from Maun that currently lives in Gaborone, Botswana.

She is currently getting her Instrument Rating and Multi Engine Rating at IAS Aviation Academy completing this year July. She holds a Commercial Pilot licence with C172 rating. Apart from being the VP of Dare to Dream, Chisale is also among the founders of Women in Aviation Botswana Chapter and a Member of Women in Aviation Botswana Chapter.

She loves aeronautical engineering and intends on being an engineer after soaring the skies for a few years. She aspires to start an air crash investigation centre in Botswana in the next 10 years. She also intends on establishing an Aircraft garage together with a spare part warehouse for fly machines.  

You cannot talk woman in aviation in Botswana and leave out the name Kgomotso Phatsima. She is the epitome of beauty with brains and plays a celebrity role as far as woman aviators are concerned. Phatsima is the Ambassador of Youth in Aviation and Aerospace in Botswana, The Goodwill Ambassador of Aviation and Aerospace for the African Region.

“We are also dedicated to empowering youth to actively consider business opportunities in the aviation and space industry. I believe in the unlimited potential of the youth. The youth of our country represent hope, optimism, positive energy, innovation, and openness. This is why we do this,” says Phatsima.

Growing up she never had the chance to attend a space program, nor learn robotics let alone coding, nor see the inside of a flying machine until she had the opportunity to fly it but this is the chance she is giving young people through her Youth in Aviation and Aerospace ambassadorship.

Captain Phatsima has a Master of Science degree in Strategic Management from the University of Derby with a focus on Aviation Safety, a Bachelor of Education (Science ) majoring in mathematics from University of Botswana, A post graduate certificate in Enterprise Risk Management from Botswana Accountancy College and a certificate in Finance for Non Finance managers from Botswana Accountancy College. She is a qualified accredited trainer by Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA).

Due to her immense contribution in the transformation of youth, women and girls in aviation and aerospace Phatsima has been donated two BAe RJ85 Aircraft Airframes to turn them into an Aviation Restaurant and Aviation Clinic for young people. Phatsima envisions setting up the first Aviation Park in Botswana. The seasoned Maipelo Kelotlegile joined Air Botswana at only 21 years old and was among the only two female pilots at the time of her joining it. As a woman, she defied the odds at the time when she chose a career in aviation over a nursing job.

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WeekendLife

Feminism and Nudity still at odds

19th April 2021
Feminism and Nudity

This past week seemed like a time travel back to the early 1970’s where women were judged and stoned for what they wear, what they should wear, and whose attention their dress code will grab.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry gave their two cents on the matter, unnecessarily so. Its disheartening that in 2021 a woman is dictated to about what she should wear.

The genesis of the whole saga was because of a certified life coach and personal trainer, Agang Atlholang, derided as an example of an anti-feminist.

Atlholang updated a controversial post on her Facebook page where she seemingly attacked and dragged some women for wearing appealing clothes that leave little to the imagination.

The personal coach further went on to highlight that she could be fully clothed and be able to attract and steal some of these women’s lovers. Audacious of her to assume but more disheartening that her wardrobe is subliminally dictated by men.

It should be noted that this wasn’t her first controversial post where she has threatened or promised to take other women’s men, it may not be her last either but this post however did get on a lot of women’s last nerve.

“A woman’s sexuality is so much more than her thighs, (beep) and breasts. It’s your aura, confidence, seduction and the way you carry yourself, watching everything rock and roll in silence. I know who I am, I am a boss lady. I can still get your man without showing skin,” said Atlholang.

It is hard to place the fitness coach, is she pro-feminism or anti-feminism? Because one minute she would say something that makes sense and that almost everyone can relate to and other times she barks threats like a toothless bulldog.

She was not wrong to publicly and indirectly affirm that she doesn’t wear revealing outfits, but for her to be coming at those who do so was entirely out of line. How a woman presents herself to the world has a very little to do with a man’s preference.

Any personal liberation of what one chooses to clothe their own body is clouded by the misogynistic backdrop of the world we live in. In all cases, a woman’s body is assumed to be someone else’s before is it her own.

If she takes off her clothes, it is seen to be a sign of her insecurity and need for validation, rather than feeling comfortable with herself. Once she’s stripped, that’s all she is. This is the insidious pressures of misogyny that we all have a duty to attack and put in the past where it belongs.

WeekendLife reached out to Atlholang but her phone went unanswered. She did not respond to a questionnaire sent to her on Wednesday.
Celebrated feminist Resego Kgosidintsi says there should be no expectations on what a woman does with her body. Some women are thick and curvy, while some are slim and petite, all body types are beautiful.

Kgosidintsi uploaded two pictures on her Facebook page in which she compared herself. In one picture she was only in a bikini on the beach whereas in the other picture she was wearing formal attire. She went on to say;

“I am the woman in both pictures, my worth did not decrease on picture 2 because I revealed almost all of my skin and neither is my worth on a 100 on picture 1 because my skirt is below the knee.

I have about 7 tattoos on my entire body and that still does not make me less of a woman. I drink and smoke cigarettes too and that doesn’t mean the woman in church who doesn’t smoke or drink more woman than me. Can we respect people’s choices, can we respect women.”
Feminist, media personality and socialite, Oratile Kefitlhile shares the same sentiments as Kgosidintsi.

‘‘Feminism is subject, if I feel as a woman that when I’m fully dressed I’m celebrating my femininity, so be it. If another woman feels they are embracing their femininity more with their thighs out, that’s perfectly fine still. Let them be.

We have been preaching this revolution for a very long time of women being allowed to wear what they want, and being allowed to embrace their womanhood in the way that speaks to them, so I feel at this point we should not be having these debates,” Kefitlhile told WeekendLife on Tuesday.

Controversial poet, artist and businesswoman, Berry Heart is of the belief that women are envious towards each other. She argues that celebrating femininity has no boundaries subsequently making no one woman superior.

Quizzed on what makes women fight over small issues such as what they wear, she says “Batswana women are broken so much that we don’t want to see another woman succeeding on anything. We desire to make them dejected.”

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WeekendLife

The art of mastering instrumentals

12th April 2021
Kagiso "Fella" Kenosi

You will know a tree by its fruits, the same way you will know a music producer by their works.

Top music producers in the country have set themselves apart through the quality music they produce and reap the results of international recognition from as far as the United States of America.

These producers are behind every star performer, listening and analyzing each and every note. When artists perform a vocal swell, rising to an octave that sounds like it’s going to shatter voice box, it’s easy to forget that someone was on the other side of the glass asking questions like, “Can you hit that note every night, or will it hurt too badly? Maybe we should lower the octave to save your voice?”

Producers make hundreds of decisions in each song, not to mention the push and pull relationships they have with talented performers.These relationships can make or break careers. Some of your favorite bands and artists wouldn’t be so memorable without a great producer helping to guide their distinct voices.

Kagiso Kenosi, or better known as Fella in the entertainment industry, is only 31-years old but he has already left his imprint in the music industry. The young chap, originally from Palapye, is not in the industry to add numbers, but to do his magic working behind the scenes producing hit song after hit song.

When most producers went to school to produce the hits that we hear today, Fella’s foundation and passion for producing came from being active in church.

“I grew up in a catholic orientated family where music is the essence of our religion. The love for music in its entirety emerged from enjoying singing at church and blossomed over the years as I grew up, being exposed to the internet and software’s such as fruity loops.”

Fella says he then learnt how to make beats and proceeded with vocal processing so besides the love for music, he had an amazing group of people who helped him reach his life dream; being the best in music production. The sky was the limit for Fella.

Unfortunately for so many music producers locally, this kind of hustle is basically about being famous. Some of them bite off more than they can chew just for a quick buck that doesn’t even go a long away for them. At the end of it all, these fly by night prima-donnas end up cutting corners and producing subpar records which eventually leads to a premature death for their careers.

Fella’s advice is that fellow colleagues should be patient and continue learning the craft, even if it means taking online tutorials. “Even though I’m still learning too, for I believe music is a fast infinite universe where no one can never say they know it all, I think believing in what one does, the level of creativity and being able to stand alone can do magic.

We living in an era where people go through a lot, so it is imperative for a music producer to be able to relate to those kind of situations. This takes only the right instrumentals, which will compliment emotions of an artist.”

The most asked question outside the music industry is; who chooses the instruments for a song, is it the artist or the producer? Fella gave his take;

“I make instrumentals and keep them until an artist comes to work on a song. That’s when I advise on whether I think the concept they chose goes hand in hand with the instrumentals. We will then look for a more appropriate song.

In some cases, artists can come and we record vocals without an instrumental and then get to make a beat on top of the recorded vocal which in that case guides me to make a relevant instrumental,” he said in an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday.

Digging more into finding the difference between a producer and an engineer, Fella clarified that there is not much difference. There is actually a thin line between the two even though an engineer does more than a producer when dishing out a song.

“We use the word production to credit people who only make beats. Engineers are people who record vocals, clean them, do the mixing and master the song preparing the record for radio. I must say an engineer, does the critical components of a song.”

As young as he is, Fella has been through thick and thin with young artists. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions, because, frankly some of these fledging artists are way too complicated to work with. Fella admits that he too has flaws but c’est la vie, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

“It’s always a blessing and quite exciting because these different people of different energies and mind-sets and creativity will humble you. It’s a chastening experience and also accords me with experience to manoeuvre and adjust to people with different characters.

So truly, it has helped me grow as a person, and a producer.”

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WeekendLife

BOMU spruce up dirty laundry

30th March 2021
BOMU awards

Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is known for its bad reputation that has been getting worse over the years. There has been a lot of chinwag, squabbles and the organization literally lost touch. It has gotten so bad that stakeholders pulled out, and members were left with no choice but to face the music alone.

Just when you’d think the waters are calm, the new Executive Committee awarded a fledgling company, Total Music Group, to handle the 2021 music awards. This move was seen as a biased decision that got BOMU members bent out of shape.

However, BOMU Secretary General, Rasina Rasina told Weekendlife that the Executive Committee that it has many irons in the fire. He indeed admitted without reluctance that, BOMU has been clouded by hubbub.

“We pledged when the new administration took over that it would begin with cleaning our own house. We have built structures as we had promised and we are glad that they are fully functional. One of those is the disciplinary committee.”

“BOMU has for a long time appeared to be lacking discipline and proper laid down procedures. This has led to the organization losing out big in its endeavour to serve its members and the entire music fraternity. The National Executive Committee, chapter committees and sub-committees have committed to ensuring that non proper governance and accountability shall take centre stage and this is all that is happening,” Rasina told Weekendlife on Tuesday.

Rebuilding and rebranding a disintegrated intuition such as BOMU is not just a walk in the park, it needs concerted efforts and team work to actually reach that goal. A stitch in time saves nine, but as for BOMU, the entire union failed to address its dares a long time ago, but the union says everything is on track in recuperating public trust and fixing the mess created then.

BOMU Research and Policy Committee is hard finalizing a new code of conduct which will contribute significantly to how members and leadership conduct themselves and relate with each other for the furtherance of BOMU’s mandate, Weekendlife has been reliably informed.

“We are doing everything according to our constitution, logic and reason. We advise our members that they should point out where the constitution has been breached and that they are at liberty to follow due process and report any misconduct to the disciplinary committee,” said Rasina.

This is following the suspension of some executive committee members and BOMU subscribed members for questioning the integrity in awarding the music awards tender. Some members, told Weekendlife that they will seek legal advice on the matter.

“We do have members who have already appeared before the disciplinary committee on various charges and decisions are yet to be taken. We also have members who are yet to appear before the committee for various complaints levelled against them. Current suspensions are related to various complaints and offences.”

With regard to appointing Total Music Group, BOMU National Executive Committee says it used Article 9.3.19 of its constitution. The article says; “The National Executive Committee of BOMU shall have the authority to enter into legally binding contracts on behalf of the Union.’’

Rasina says the leadership needed a company to manage, host and sell the BOMU awards for five years consecutively so as to attain stability and refurbish the brand image of both the music awards and the organization. “Without any money at our disposal, we debated on the best model and agreed that we should engage a company that also has the capacity to mobilize resources. We used our discretion and decided on a direct appointment model which is perfectly legal and constitutional.”

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