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On the wing: Botswanas 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

‘Mindset’ unlocks positive mindset

2nd February 2023
At the age of 17, Boniface Lewanika is ready to take over the world. He has shown commitment to being the next big thing to ever emerge from Botswana. Mindset MusiQ, as he is affectionately known, is a self-taught music producer. The story of how Mindset started music production can be traced back to end-to-end lockdowns, which jaded him to the core.

At least, for Mindset MusiQ, these lockdowns were a blessing in disguise. He got to unlock the hidden potential in him, or maybe, the creativity that he never knew about. Being locked down meant that Mindset MusiQ has plenty of time to waste, but he was quick to switch his mindset to coming up with something positive.

He saw it much better to waste time on the internet. Well, for lot of people, the internet was the only saving grace then. But for Mindset MusiQ, it was the beginning of a journey that he intends to walk for the rest of his life.

“I became a music producer because I love music. I then asked myself why I should not make music, that’s when in 2020 during lockdowns I started watching YouTube tutorials on how to make music. I didn’t have any knowledge on how to produce a song. YouTube introduced me to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) which is a software used for music production.”

The Letlhakane born then downloaded his first software which was Ableton Live, which was way too complex and distorted. “I felt it was too hard to learn and I switched to FI studio which was also complicated but fortunately, easy to use. Because I don’t have a good voice to sing, music production became too good to me and very flexible to embark on.”

Mindset MusiQ became part of the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) national roadshow, after being picked from the capacity building workshop. He was challenged to speak to the audience, fellow creatives (artists and music producers) and his presentation caught the eye of the adjudicator, DJ Fresh.

“I heard about the artist’s capacity building workshop from my mother, who saw it on Facebook. My father immediately reacted and dropped me off and even though I was late, the host then introduced me and the rest became history. As we speak, I am part of the Top 30, and we will be having the finale on the 11th of February in Gaborone.”

Being on the Top 30 for Mindset MusiQ is a dream come true. This is because he wasn’t even told that there will be a boot camp and grand prizes, and he has always wanted to advance his premature music career. He said this has shown that he is on the right track.

“Working with DJ Fresh is really cool. It’s not everyone who can be afforded that opportunity and the experience humbles me all the time. Already, I have rocked the Thando remix and I can’t wait to do more with his mentorship.”

Mindset MusiQ is currently in South Africa working on cooking more music with industry moguls. He was invited by producer Trey Bankz and some colleagues from Imperial City Music, a new record label in Johannesburg

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WeekendLife

All The Star She Is lands on BTV

2nd February 2023
With zero existence of TV programs empowering women in Botswana, a new show that strives to make that news of the past has just started airing on the tedious BTV. At least, after so many years, All The Star She Is will inspire viewers to see a new change in terms of supporting women in Botswana.

Each incredible series celebrates women but not from all walks of life, but those who are turning heads in the entertainment industry. The show will cast a bright light on women who have conquered tremendous obstacles and weathered the storms.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Monday, Director of Cosign267 Koone Boikaego said the show reveals the paths that these phenomenal women took to be where they are in the entertainment and media industry.

Cosign267 is a 100% youth owned film and TV Production Company led by Boikaego. It has worked with a number of organization, executing various projects such as filming, shooting, editing and one-on-one couch interviews.

The youthful company recently wrapped up the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) three months’ national roadshow and boot camp. It was assigned with capturing all moments of the roadshow, alongside Thato DJ Fresh Sikwane.

“Celebrating women is one thing that is often overlooked. We put together this project to take followers into the lives of creative and incredible women. They are determined to break walls and pave way for the next generation of women. In this show, these women serve viewers with factual stories of how they started and what it takes to be at the forefront, the bittersweet experiences that took them that far. It’s really a show that many young girls can draw inspiration from.”

Breaking down the show plan, Boikaego said airs every Saturday on BTV at 6PM, hosted by One Rabantheng. Rabantheng, famously known as Divine Diva is a media and marketing consultant, legendary radio personality who worked for Duma FM, e-TV and RB2, where she was shown the door for speaking foul of the then President without being aware that the microphone is on.

There are thirteen stars to be featured on the new show, therefore, this means that there will be thirteen episodes. Some of the familiar faces featured on the TV show are: Mpho Sebina, Olorato Ledique, Oratile Kebakile, Nnunu Ramogotsi, Tumi Ramsden, Kelly Ramputswa, Tshepie Olds, Winx Motcher, Mmaphala, Loretta and Nicole Martinez among others.

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WeekendLife

Lifestyle enthusiasts feel Big Brother vibes

27th January 2023

This past weekend MultiChoice Botswana hosted media and lifestyle enthusiasts in Oodi for an evening of fun, drama and everything in between. The treat dubbed Big Brother Titans Botswana media challenge basically recreated the Big Brother experience right here in Botswana.

Big Brother Titans is the joint South African and Nigerian edition of the Big Brother franchise. The series follows contestants as they live in an isolated house and compete for a cash prize at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted from the house by the viewers.

These viewers vote their favorite housemates to stay on the show. The show features housemates from South Africa and Nigeria. The first season of the show premiered on January 15 2023 on DStv.

DStv Botswana Corporate Affairs Manager, Thembile Legwaila told WeekendLife that they saw it critical to host media friends to experience how it feels by being in the Big Brother house.

“For the very first time in history of Big Brother, we’ve seen the merging of two superpowers, Mzansi and Naija, with the Big Brother Titans season and what a better way to celebrate the monumental season than hosting our media friends.”

THE LOVE

Participants were treated to top notch reception complimented by the Oodi sunset which just blew them away. A special shuttle was organized from Gaborone to Oodi, at a farm house that is just incredible in terms of design, aesthetics and ambience.

Of course they were welcomed by soft cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages for those who are not drinkers, and the next booth was an opportunity for housemates to introduce themselves to the man of the house, Biggie. RB2’s new baby Mdu the Party played the role of Biggie, and he nailed the character.

Some of the contestants were asked what they will do with the grand prize of P5000. With my ongoing voluntary movement, #Pad4HER, I needed the cash prize to push the campaign.  #Pad4HER is a campaign that I started last year with an aim of helping female students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have access to sanitary towels. Anyway, luck was not on my side but my colleague from The Botswana Gazette, Gosego Motsumi emerged as the winner.

We got done with the questions and made way into the house. The party began with more drinks and the first challenge kicked off. For this particular challenge, we were divided into pairs. I was matched with Motsumi and we won the first challenge.

WINNING STRATEGY

Other housemates asked how we managed but it was simple: we had a strategy before embarking on the challenge. We sat down and debated on what we need to do in order to emerge victorious.

DStv engaged a phenomenal local chef, Rachel Tlagae who served some enchanting, light meal. Its Big Brother Titans so we ought to mind what we eat and also take note of quantities. Chefs also brought some wine to go with the meal and everyone was contented.

THE WINNING CHALLENGE

Housemates were taken through the last challenge: mental ability. This particular challenge needed them to know who they are as well as knowing their fellow housemates. It was one of the simplest challenges yet difficult. This is where I lost lot of points even though I was at the top (after winning the first challenge).

These housemates were all unique in their own way. From the media side was myself, Sharon Mathala, Leungo Mokgwathi, Gosego Motsumi and Nancy Ramokhua. This is a team which did exceptionally well altogether. Motsumi emerged as the winner, followed by Mathala and me on fourth position.

The third position was won by Loungo Pitse from influencer’s side, and he tagged alongside DJ Gouveia, Dato Seiko, Kedi Molosiwa and Gape Makwati.

Legwaila said “We wanted to have a healthy mix of traditional media (print and radio) as well as social media personalities, artists and content creators in the house. We chose individuals who were characteristically different from each other because variety and diversity is important to us. We of course chose those with outgoing personalities as well as those who are a little more introverted as we wanted the interaction to be authentic and organic. We wanted a solid group of individuals who represented the many different people that make up this beautiful country.”

DSTV IS COOKING SOMETHING

When quizzed if there are plans to have a similar Big Brother Titans Botswana, Legwaila said “MultiChoice Africa is focused on entertaining audiences all over Africa with the current Big Brother franchises; BB Titans, Mzansi and Naija. Though we have no immediate plans to have a Big Brother Botswana in the future, we are continuously looking at ways to entertain our Botswana audience with local content and we are excited for what’s to come in the next few weeks from our country.”

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