Although a form of self expression, art has been known to be subjective. The world over, there are some artworks famous for being ugly-some even celebrated. Recently, Gaborone’s roundabouts are full of such self expression, but the producers have not been spared harsh commentary from the public. As the critiques are hard at work, DAVE BAAITSE wonders, is the recoil justified at all?
Gaborone’s roundabouts, of which some were known to be death traps got a makeover a few months back, precisely just before the country’s golden jubilee celebrations. The revamp was much welcome, it meant they were more visible and attractive looking, but lo and behold-too soon, the ethereal, creepy, grotesque sculptures arrived.
What seemed a welcome development to the city was soon subject of harsh debate, an insult to the arts industry, even more bruising to Batswana who would have to explain to their tourist friends how come only the wacky ‘pieces of art’ made the final cut!
But the ugliest forms of art have been displayed and universally loved, presumably for their uniqueness or ugliness; what is the brouhaha about our own displays at our roundabouts? Some quarters have slammed the artworks as plain lack of creativity on the part of prisons department.
The initiative by Botswana Prisons Services was purposely to give vibrancy to the city, particularly during the build up to the BOT50 celebrations. Since then, more sculptures have been put up during holidays and special days, including Valentine’s Day. Critics took to social media calling on government to discontinue the practise of erecting the unattractive sculptures. Currently, the Netball World Cup Mascot, Naletsana has been recreated and now deformed statues of her stand tall at our roundabouts. Nineteen countries have descended in the country in anticipation of a mouth-watering showpiece. The embodiment of the name Naletsana, a small star, has been victimised.
The zombie look alike is by no means representation of what a ‘little star’ should be and has all potential of scaring away any girl with interest in pursuing netball in future. Renowned artist, Wilson Ngoni who has over the years won many hearts over through his painting skills spoke to WeekendLife to share his views on the initiative. He described the sculptures as shoddy work and not representative of the local artists’ talent.
According to Ngoni, there are a lot of good artists who are capable of doing better than what has been seen around town. He is of the view that artworks are meant to carry memories over a long time and archiving them. “These artworks are not attractive, they lack skills thus result in substandard works,” he said.
He further argues that, the shoddy works being displayed in public spaces sends wrong the wrong messages about local artists to outsiders. He opines that the artists who are brought to put up the sculptures need proper training before they can be tasked with putting up artworks to be seen by travellers on the roads. He highlighted that when he went to Berlin to participate at the ITB he painted the Okavango Delta, one of the iconic tourists’ attraction areas in Botswana.
Thus he sold the place to the masses which encompassed more than two thousand people in attendance. He advised government to engage experts to work with the BPS in order to enhance their skills. ‘Son of the Brush’ as he is affectionately known said the country did not in any way regard and engage with artists in terms of building an iconic BOT50 sculpture that would represent the history of Botswana.
He pointed out that the recent Seretse Khama sculpture was made by Australian based artist Ray Gare. He said in Paris, people travel to see the famous Paris bridges that carry French memories. When contacted for comment, Botswana Prisons Service Assistant Commissioner, Wamorena Ramolefhe said the initiative is part of the Prisoner Rehabilitation Program. “Basically,” he said, “this is to impart to prisoners some various life skills to use once they are released.”
He said the sculptures found at roundabouts are meant to raise awareness and sensitise people on national issues. “Sometimes we get feedback that they are ugly yes, but this is part of their training,” he said. The Assistant Commissioner also said the initiative is aimed at giving the city a facelift.
He confirmed that the prisoners are trained by prison officers who have various skills. “The whole idea is to make them law abiding citizens once they leave prison. Besides life skills we also offer them a psychosocial program which is character moulding, intended on refining their behaviour,” he concluded.
Beauty pageant queen Babedi Isaka will see her brain child, Mr & Miss Captivating finally come to life on August 22nd this year. Isaka enunciated that Mr & Miss Captivating is a home-grown pageant open for both international and local contestants between the ages of 16 and 26.
She went on that the pageant will open doors for contestants to get more out of life by teaching the contestants multiple life skills such as etiquette and boosting self-esteem. Isaka’s first stint was fashion modelling in 2016 and later on ventured into pageantry in 2018 to date.
She has several tittles under her belt. Among them being; a Miss Botswana 2021 top 16 Finalist and the most recent one being Miss Teen Africa 2nd Princess 2022. She believes her immense experience and the partnerships she has are a perfect fit to make the event a success.
On what inspired the pageant and the name, Isaka highlighted “A queen or king should influence and dominate by some special charm, art, or trait and having an irresistible appeal in society. Thus ‘captivating’ “
The pagent is expected to give back to the community by empowering the boy and girl child with life skills. Isaka noted that some of the ways women mark their place in the world is through beauty pageants as often times, tittle holders get involved in some form of social work.
“The majority of beauty queens use their offices to get involved with NGO’s or individual established projects during the cause of their reign. For some queens, these projects span the period of their reign and for others it becomes a life time thing.” She highlighted.
To Isaka an ideal Mr. & Miss Captivating is pictured as a leader and should have the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose that will serve communities for the greater good as well as being in possession of a character which inspires others.
The stereotype on the street is that pageants set unrealistic standards for women of all ages. Young girls and boys often try to live up to these standards and mature into adults complexing about their bodies and men who demand their wives or girl friend to look like beauty pageant participants.
Isaka however is a body image champion. She is of the belief that pageantry does not degrade women. In her own words “Pageants promote goal setting and truly inspire a contestant to search their soul, think about the future and plan on how to get there” adding that “There is nothing rarer, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself by being comfortable in her perfect imperfection. That is also why we have men as contestants, to clear the stereotype that pageantry objectifies women.”
Still on the matter of controversy and stereotype, when asked about the swim suit segment of pageants that always causes an uproar. Isaka confirmed Mr & Miss Captivating will have the swim suit segment emphasising “as an aspiring beauty queen, it is very important for women to be healthy and comfortable in their own skin.
The swimsuit round in pageants helps women love their unique build and instils discipline in working towards their fitness goals.” Mr & Miss Captivating has so far rallied 10 sponsors among them; beauty parlours, clothing lines and news media. The event will be hosted by local comedian and unisex model, Troy April. The standard ticket is selling for P300 while the VIP goes for P450.
Her mystery is not just the large bodies of water with isolated islands rich in the beauty of flora and fauna in this tourism gateway – this internationally renowned travel capital, has a strong sense of history, some sort of hidden purpose and legacy which plays with one’s senses as they explore the mighty Chobe River.
From Cresta Mowana, the Cresta Marakanelo flagship, the richness of Chobe has no better panoramic views. Tales and legends are shared about the islands in the area. Sedudu in particular once a subject of fierce dispute between Botswana and Namibia arouses interest from residents and visitors alike.
Some say the reasons for territorial dispute of the some 30 plus years ago was because of the unknown mysteries the island carries. As residents and visitors sit by the fire at the Boma the tales of the area can stretch until morning.
“Why fight for a piece of island no men can live in?” whispers one senior citizen who referred to himself as Rra Mabala as he rolled his traditional tobacco on a piece of old newspaper. “In the olden days we believed that the Chobe is home of spirituality. Those that were lost would find their way by simply appreciating her beauty. When you come here no matter your life’s troubles, when you leave you will find your way. The white man comes every year because he knows this,” he notes.
I set my sights to Cresta Mowana this past November. Its unique architecture which blends African tradition in wooden pillars, stone and thatch is a welcome contrast to the four-star amenities that make the likes of Prince Harry and many other international guests feel at home in the middle of the bush.
The balconies provide a sensational feel of Mother Nature at its best with the lush of green giving a carpet of green rare in our arid region nationwide. Chobe gives you an escape. The Serondela Restaurant is located adjacent to the river and makes meals much a delight and a platform of meeting new friends and mazing conversations.
For me the beauty was swimming in the wild. You guessed it wrong I do not mean swimming in the Chobe the Clarence Spa Infinity pool is about 30 meters away from the mighty river. As I swam overlooking this masterpiece of nature I remembered just why touring at home has so much meaning.
I looked for the fortune Rre Mabala spoke of in the hope that I find my path like so many who had come before come before my time. I realized that probably finding your way was not magic in the sense of Harry Porter novels but rather a renewed sense of self and relaxation which makes one put things into perspective.
The crisp air of being nestled and enveloped in nature with all things green made me realize just why the hotel group invested over BWP3 million in revamping the executive and presidential suites. The mighty Chobe River has an endless charm.
Visit Namibia from 500 meters away as you cruise the river on a boat. Make sure you choose a responsible company for this who have vetted captains. I enjoyed swimming in the wild. This Easter I may just do a revisit.
American travel online company TripAdvisor, Inc. has ranked 10 of Cresta Marakanelo Limited (CML) hotels amongst the top 10% of hotels in the world during the recently published Travellers’ Choice awards.
The properties awarded the TripAdvisor 2022 Travellers Choice Awards include Cresta Bosele, Cresta Botsalo, Cresta Marang Gardens, Cresta Mahalapye, Cresta Maun, Cresta President, Cresta Thapama, and from Zimbabwe, Cresta Churchill, Cresta Oasis and Cresta Sprayview.
Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform*, helps hundreds of millions of people each month** become better travellers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. “You are in the top 10% of hotels worldwide, congratulations.
Every year trip advisor recognizes businesses that have demonstrated a commitment to hospitality excellence with a traveller’s choice award- and- this year you made the list. That means you’ve earned consistent great reviews, so keep it up. Good job, and congratulations on your well-received win, (sic)” stated a communication from the TripAdvisor, Inc. head offices.
The Travellers’ Choice awards honour travellers’ favourite destinations, hotels, restaurants, things to do, and beyond, based on the reviews and opinions collected from travellers and diners around the world on TripAdvisor over 12 months. Travellers’ Choice recognizes businesses that earn consistently great reviews.
The news brought excitement to the Cresta Marakanelo Limited (CML) camp which has since been motivated by the development, “This nomination is a step in the right direction, it reflects that our local and international clientele has trust in the CML brand, services, and products.
All the gratitude for this development goes to our clientele, CML has some of the busy properties in the country and region, our strategic plan has always been to provide quality products and services,” said CML Managing Director Mokwena Morulane.
Over the years CML has been a home to local and international visitors who have left impressive reviews after receiving world class hospitality. It has a long history of serving travellers who seek authentic African experiences as well as modern comforts.
“As one of the leading hotel and tourism players in the country, we always strive to provide the best in true African hospitality. This has motivated us to work hard and continuely innovate our services. hopefully, next time more of our properties will be ranked amongst some of the best hotels in the world,” concluded the CML Managing Director.