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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

Han C wins big at the YAMAs

5th October 2021
Han-C

Once again, Hanceford Magapatona emerged the biggest winner with ease at the 7th Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs) this past weekend. Famously known as Han C in the music industry, the 27-year old self-taught singer and songwriter snatched the titles of YAMAs People’s Choice Artist of the Year and Best Male single for his all-time hit ‘Padi padi’. 

Han C did not go home empty-handed as there were good monies for each category, courtesy of First National Bank Botswana, Mascom and Now TV. The two prestigious awards earned him P60 000 and P25 000 each, making him the biggest winner of the night.  After being announced as the winner under the Best Male Single, Han C took to social media to express his serenity about the achievements. He said, “words cannot explain how I feel right now, but all I can say is thank you much to the people who have been showing us love and support.

Special shout out to Yarona FM for giving us this platform to showcase our talents and creativity. I also would love to give a special shout out to all the sponsors for making this happen. We appreciate all of you.” When getting his People’s Choice Artist of the Year award, Han C showed deference to artists nominated with him under this category. Even though they could not go home with the prize, Mahalapye-born acknowledged that they are equally artistic. “Getting a nomination for this award is quite an achievement on its own, mainly because you are nominated alongside brilliant, amazing good artists—a special shout out to my team. We put in the work; I think we should continue doing so.

PREVIOUS AWARDS NOMINATIONS 

Han C’s hard work and dedication have garnered him recognition in the local scenes. And it would look suspicious if he didn’t get an accolade or two. In 2018, he was nominated YAMAs Artist of the Year, Best Male Artist, and Song of the Year (Mafurafura), Best Collabo (Mafurafura) and Best Dance Single (Mafurafura). In 2016, he was nominated for Song of the Year (SediLaaka) and Best Collaboration (SediLaaka). He won Best New Artist in 2016, Artist of the Year (2018) and Best Dance Single 2018.

MOTSETSEREPA LOSES ALL NOMINATIONS

Local comedian-turned musician Bofelo William Molebatsi, known as William KRM Last saw dust at the recently held 7th YAMAs. After being the most nominated artist, William Last did not go home with any of his nominated awards.  He was nominated under: People’s Choice Award of the Year category, won by Han C, Song of the Year taken home by La Tonde and Names, Best Male Single (Han C), Best Hip-hop (snatched by Ozi F Teddy) as well as Best Social Media (Mjamaica).

He, however, took to social media to share the devastating news, which came as a slapping blow right on his face. “Wow! Whenever I think of the huge success of my Amara Willian album, I always cry happy tears. I celebrate and thank God for where he has brought me to with all this big brand success. This is especially through the greatest love from my supporters/fans all over. They are a million followers of my brand and the views that I always get on my daily posts all over my social media platforms. These big numbers scream love and appreciation to me so loud. I appreciate the love and support; God bless.”

OTHER YAMAS 2021 WINNERS

Peoples’ Choice Song of the year was awarded La Tonde and Names for their song ‘Dibulele’. YAMAs 2021 Inductee to the Yarona FM Hall Of Fame was the late Sasa Klaas. Sasa Klaas died in a helicopter crash on March 5th 2021, near Sojwe. She was an all-around musician mostly known for her hip-hop culture.

Producer of the year was snatched by MB on the Beat, while Boipelo Seleke scooped the YAMAs 2021 Icon award. Seleke went home with P25 000 while MB on the Beat only earned himself P10 000. The new Mokaragana hostess Girly left the YAMAs as the new awardee of Best Female Single for her song ‘BMW’. Best Amapiano went to Deejay Bino’s ‘Touch’ featuring the late Sasa Klaas, Rasun and Da QuTness.

Further, Lloyd BW and Priscilla K’s ‘Have You Ever’ won Best Dance Single, while Best Collaboration was won by FlyBoi Que featuring Jordan MoOzy and FME Luther October on their hit ‘Ndeya’. Ozi F Teddy also made a debut appearance of the YAMAs nominations and snatched Best Hip Hop for his song ‘Negotiate’, where he features Murda.

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WeekendLife

BOMU clears trending misconceptions

21st September 2021
BOMU President Phemelo Lesokwane

Almost every year, Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) attracts hullabaloo over its annual music awards. This time around, it was not only that. There has been much noise around compliance, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development involvement in the affairs of this organisation, as well as the contentious sponsorship from the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS).

Following a four-year hiatus, BOMU awards found themselves being the talk of the town due to unfair practices some artists claim clouded the non-complying organisation. These are serious accusations that BOMU has since rubbished as deliberate actions intended to tarnish its reputation.

Some disgruntled artists recently took to the streets to protest against these practices. However, these are not subscribing members of BOMU. Before being cut short by the Police, these artists demanded that the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare step down immediately. They claim that Rakgare has failed his mandate.

On the other hand, they demanded that the Youth Ministry reverse the P500 000 it has splashed on the BOMU awards, and the money be split among artists. A lead protester in these activities, Rhumba artist General Tuco, told Weekendlife that BOMU management should halt the awards and instead clean the organisation’s dirty laundry.

He further indicated that they would be dropping a petition at the DBS offices, urging the group to revoke the P1.5 million sponsorship it has awarded BOMU. Because these discontented artists claim that BOMU is non-compliant, they will also be marching to the Registrar of Societies to express their grievances.

In an interview this week, General Tuco said they are still engaging their attorney to formalise their protest and give them a way forward. The Police deny them a permit to hold their rally. According to information gathered last week, the artists were arrested and released the same day and asked to apply for a protest permit.

BOMU PRESIDENT SPEAKS

BOMU President Phemelo Lesokwane told a media member on Wednesday that “We have seen people on social media dragging our name on the mud as BOMU. They say we are non-compliant, corrupt and unfair. When we get to see who these people are, they are not our members. They call themselves artists, but as legalised agents of artists in Botswana, we do not know them, neither do we know what they are talking about. We condemn these acts.”

Lesokwane rubbished allegations that BOMU is not compliant. “We see journalists giving these guys who masquerade as artists more prime time for them to tarnish our name. But they do not have the evidence. BOMU is compliant, and we have all the documents. We also have verified documents from the Registrar of Societies, who are our key stakeholders.”

Talking about being backbitten, Lesokwane claims that government officials from the Registrar of Societies are promoting what unregistered artists are making noise about in the corridors. Some of these officers fed the Youth Minister Rakgare wrong information about BOMU. BOMU has much work to do in-house.

Further, Lesokwane revealed that when they took over the office, BOMU was mugged some of its finances. Investigations are ongoing to retrieve such monies, he said. As if that is not enough cleaning, Lesokwane has a headache dealing with another faction dubbed BW Artists, which represents artists in the Northside of the country.

“If you could look into the management of this organisation, you would question their interests. Two of them are politicians. Once they fail primary elections, they come back into the music industry and cause chaos. I always say I am going to fight with everything I have together with my team to make sure that we protect artists in Botswana.”

JOURNALISTS FINGERED IN THE BOMU MESS

BOMU President Lesokwane has accused journalists of being biased and unfair to his organisation. He stressed that BOMU depends on members of the press to help rebuild the dying Botswana music industry. “Most articles about our artists speak negatively about them. Foreign artists are always given priority instead of our local artists, but we value journalists as our equally significant stakeholders. We can grow this industry together.”

These media reports, Lesokwane said, have forced stakeholders to withdraw their sponsorships towards the BOMU awards, slated for October 2021. At times they are required to answer for hearsays that are not accurate. He reiterated that BOMU has nothing to hide as it is compliant.

BOMU MUSIC AWARDS CONSULTANT SPEAKS

BOMU Music Awards Consultant Seabelo Modibe has been topping the charts for a long good time. His appointment as a consultant was notorious as critics felt his company was relatively premature at the time of appointment.

He joined the BOMU get-together at the time the awards were still distressed by the hubbub. Many asked if he would manage the heat, but clearly, Modibe is having a hard time. He, however, stressed that BOMU is open to criticism.

“Lot of people say BOMU has been given money to waste. That is not precise. It has sold its product, its broadcasting rights. They were sold for P1.5 million to the DBS. Our contract is for a year, and we will be going back to them in December. MYSC has acquired what we call commercial rights. These are rights that someone buys to promote their mandate. MYSC seeks to promote local music using BOMU awards.”

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WeekendLife

Bold and Golden

15th September 2021

Mpho Donald was undoubtedly the IT girl of the then tedious beauty industry. She loved looking pretty and smelling good. Of course, this is every girl’s dream, but making a living out of it doesn’t flash into many of these girls’ dreams.

Besides, it used to be a lot more common for the majority of entrepreneurs to be male in the past. However, in recent years the number of female entrepreneurs in the world has been on the rise. She is from a family of business-minded people. Both parents were entrepreneurs, but that is not why Donald is a powerful woman in this entrepreneurial space. At one point, life threw lemons at her, and she made lemonade.

At the age of 38, Donald has been to South Africa more than once. These frequent hazardous trips at the time were to acquire secret elements into being a real hustler. She would get robbed, risk being raped or hijacked, but she survived.

“At one point, life got too difficult to an extent where I found myself doing piece jobs for other people just so I earn something to buy toiletry, food and clothes even. I did laundry, and in the entire process, I got tired. I had to think about business, and it was easy because I come from a line of people who believe in trading. Somehow I got motivated, but I never wanted to work for anyone in life.”

Before embarking on shadowing missions in South Africa, Donald would go around the capital city, hunting for customers. Kgale Mews, Commerce Park are urban offices for various companies, but this did not restrict her from knocking, selling makeup, jewellery and accessories.

She was known for this particular hustle in all the offices. Some people will get exhausted because of her irritating products, but that did not stop her from acquiring a tiny spot in Main Mall. She pitched her gazibo, and her next items on display were plus size women’s outfits. These women are often overlooked, especially on beauty pageantry. The controversial Miss Plus Size Botswana pageant never saw the light of the day ever again.

“I guess that was after I saw the pains of plus-sized women when it came to shopping for something to wear. Being a plus-size woman made it easy for me to penetrate this space. I modelled all my clothes and advertised them on social media.”

Social media opened many doors for so many entrepreneurs. Donald can attest to that. She told Weekendlife that “People started coming in to buy both makeup and the clothes. Then, later on, I started selling second-hand clothes and while at it, I moved to my first shop. I think for me taking risks has never really been any scary because I convinced myself that in any case, I fall, I will rise again.”

“So I went boldly into everything that I could do at the time. I would travel to South Africa to places I never knew. I got my stock there, and even when I got robbed, I knew I would eventually reach my destination. It surely wasn’t an easy walk in a park, but I persevered,” she said.

From her mini boutique, Donald went full force into buying and supplying second-hand clothes. “As the COVID-19 lockdowns hit us, I was busy at work pushing the idea on mini bails and second-hand clothes. So it came down to my mind that I have to know what to sell in which season. It was a trial and error kind of hustle, but once you get a grip of it, you begin to sail smoothly.”

Donald currently supplies small businesses across the country. She gets to enjoy a good relationship with her customers, who are in other countries even. “It took me much effort, commitment and loyalty to be where I am today. I guess I could now boldly say that hard work is beginning to pay off. I have started knocking on bigger doors for partnerships, and I believe that if I can get them, beauty plus size clothing will be elevated to the next level.”

Mpho Donald is originally from Serowe. She studied her O and A-levels in Zimbabwe at the Specis College. Still, in Zimbabwe, she enrolled and qualified as a Travel and Tourism expert. She said in an interview that she will be venturing into other hustles too but couldn’t reveal which ones now. Donald is optimistic that everything will be ready and served in 2022.

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