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Meet Ntwakgolo Gangster

Billy Obonye graces our television screens every Mondays at 2030hrs, as gangster Lemphizzy on the popular BTV drama series Ntwakgolo.


The passionate actor is one of a few theatre actors whose transitioning from stage to the small screen has proved to be a worthy step, especially in Botswana where both industries are relatively small. Born in Selibe Phikwe in the early 80s, ‘Lemphizzy’ as he is popularly now called related to WeekendLife this week that acting for the Dee Zone productions’ drama series has literally changed his life.


“I was unfortunate to have ended my schooling with only a JC. Life was very hard then, the year I wrote my JC exams was the very same year we lost our mother, which I believe was the reason for my not doing well.” His aunt was their caretaker with his 3 other siblings, him being the second born. But his eldest sister soon passed away too, and he was left with only his younger brothers to fend for.


“In 2001, I had a son. Life became more complicated as pressure to find work to provide for all of them started to build up.” He has always had a passion for acting and wanted to follow his dream, but his aunt, who stayed with them constantly, reminded him to stop dreaming and get a job for provide for his son and younger brothers.


“All I really wanted to do was act. I wanted to attend all my Moitelasilo (drama group in Phikwe) rehearsals but I was constantly reminded that that would not put food on the table. And with only a Junior Certificate I could not even find a decent job. I would get contractual jobs at the mine for 6 or so months sometimes,” he said.


His acting talent was nurtured from primary school where he acted on school plays, continuing to junior secondary school where he was in the drama group. From there he started Moitelasilo with other fellow actors in Phikwe. “I moved to Phikwe Theatre, which was bigger than Moitelasilo after they spotted me during the president’s competitions in 2011. That is where I would audition for Ntwakgolo in 2014 when auditions were being held in Phikwe.”


Today, the talented actor says that he has no problems taking care of his own and has even added on to his skill. “When I first started acting, I didn’t just do my part and fold my arms. I was no Denzel Washington, so I would do other small jobs on set; like lighting, carrying equipment.”


In 2015, he had learnt so much that he started operating the camera on his own. “Thabiso Maretlwaneng gave me a chance, when Ntwakgolo wasn’t on air, he let me even shoot Pula Power. I would just go with the presenter(s) and just shoot. ” “I am now Assistant Director for Ntwakgolo, other than that, I did part of the casting for Season two and even trained some of the actors. This is a job done mostly by people who have degrees in TV and film production,” the passionate actor said.


More than anything, Obonye comes across as humble, kind and very loving, unlike the character he plays on TV. “ “I don’t believe that there are jobs that were made for certain people; they were made for all of us, it is upon each and every one of us to push and make things happen for ourselves,” he said.


Looking back, he has no regrets and says he would choose to disregard his aunt’s advice again. His aunt had wanted him to repeat his JC and eventually pursue his education and get a ‘proper job.’ “I didn’t think then that repeating or going back to school would bring any changes to my life. I wanted to pursue acting as a career, and now I am able to take care of my younger siblings. I am now a father of 3, my eldest son is doing form 3 and I am able to pay for his studies without a problem, and my other two daughters are being well taken care of.”


Ntwakgolo is a TV Drama series focusing on HIV and AIDS themed issues. The drama is a chronicle of the lives of people living in a community, how they intercept, relate and behave towards each other in regard towards the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Ntwakgolo broadcast 52 episodes weekly on BTV between 2014 and 2015 under NACA Funding and has become the most popular television drama nationwide.


In season two of Ntwakgolo, which was shot in Selibe Phikwe, Lemphizzy and Lingas have fled Gaborone to establish their bad business in Phikwe, but there is a twist of events when competition arrives in the form of former partner in crime, Sekhokho.

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WeekendLife

Overcoming the trauma of rape

29th September 2020
Moving-on-after-rape

According to World Population Review, women aged 16-19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault and female college students ages 18-24 are three times more likely to experience sexual assault. Transgender people and those with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of sexual assault or rape.

From these very statistics Botswana can be found second only to neighbouring South Africa with the highest rape cases in the world. The number of incidents per 100,000 citizens do not take into account the number of cases that have not been reported to authorities. This goes without saying that Botswana may very well be on the same level as South Africa if not surpassing it.

Most of these victims have a hard time dealing with the violence they faced to an extent where it affects their day to day life.

WeekendLife interviewed rape survivor, Patience Ruwona, who was raped at the age of 15. Ruwona shared her gruesome experience and what it took for her to find healing, gather strength and move forward.

“It happened eight years ago and at the time I was only 15 years old. My mother was staying with her boyfriend at the time. So it happened that one day I came early from school. I was still doing form 2. I was the first one to come back from school. The boyfriend was home. So when I was changing into home clothes in my room, the boyfriend came in without even knocking. He then told me my mother has left some money so that whoever comes back first from school can go and buy meat,” Ruwona narrated.

“I then told him I will come get the money when I am done. He went back to his room. So after I finished changing, I went to their room. I knocked and he told me to come in. When I got, I found him half naked with only a towel. That made me feel very uncomfortable because when we were growing, we were taught never to enter an elder’s room when they are not fully dressed. I told him I came to collect the money and he pointed the dressing table.”

Unbeknownst to the young unsuspecting Ruwona, her mother’s then boyfriend would then grab the young lad, rip apart her garments and have his way with her. When Ruwona threatened to expose him, the audacious perpetrator would laugh in her face, telling her that there would be nothing her mother would do about the incident. And true to his words, Ruwona’s mother did not flinch upon hearing the gruesome crime that befell her daughter.

“In the evening when my mother came I told her everything. It was a simple thing to her and she never took it seriously. I told her I am bleeding and she said go and wash up we will talk about this some other time. Just like that suddenly I recalled that man’s words and I truly believed him. Till then I have not told anyone about this. I thought my mother is going to protect me, so if my mother failed to protect me no one else could protect me,” said a distraught Ruwona.

Seeking help after being raped

“Physically I had no desire to have sexual intercourse, I was scared. Years passed by and emotionally I was still battling because there were days I had flashbacks of the rape. It’s like a wound, it can never heal but it can stop bleeding. It never heals. It will bleed another time. I felt uncomfortable around men and I never went for counselling. I never went for anything, I thought I will cope on my own,” she said.

“So one day I decided enough is enough and I decided to speak out. That time I figured counselling would be best.  I later went for counselling and I was doing well. I had to accept it happened and put everything in the past. Forgiving my mother helped me to heal.”

Director of Save A Woman, Babedi Samakabadi, has highlighted that rape is a permanent wound that one has to live with for the rest of their lives.

“The first thing the victim can do is to admit that they have been abused and they should be able to talk about it to whoever they can trust; could be a close relative, a counsellor, a friend or a pastor. It is not easy to take a step towards your healing but it must be done.

Victims of rape, must create a huge room in their hearts to forgive the perpetrators even when they are not sorry, forgiveness will help the victim to make peace with life and the future. Forgiveness will allow the victim to be able to get over the horrible experience and not associate the intimate relations as abuse at all times,” said Samakabadi.

“If one doesn’t allow themselves to heal and move on, dating and engaging in intimate matters are going to be a problem in their lives. As the victim can disclose to whoever they trust like friends or family, they are also advised to seek more especially professional counselling for proper psychological therapy, as the memories of the incident may torment the victim therefore  therapy may assist with getting to live with such memories without being drawn back or life progress being affected . Lastly, the victims must know that issues as these aren’t easy to deal with through our own ability, we need God for strength, wisdom and courage. We have no power to diminish some of the weight in our emotions or the damage done to our souls and hearts, hence we need God to carry us through.”

If you or a loved one is in need of help in dealing with rape or gender based violence, the following organisations provide free counselling services;

BOFWA (Botswana Family Welfare Association) 390 0489

BOSASNET (Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network) 395 9119

LIFE LINE 391 1270

MBGE (Men and Boys for Gender Equality) 395 7763

BGBVC (Botswana Gender Based Violence and Support Centre) 390 7659

BOCAIP (Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme) 391 6454

Princess Marina Psychiatric Clinic

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WeekendLife

200,000 Members of International Church Hold Virtual Prayer Service for Covid-19

22nd September 2020
200,000

After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.

On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.

The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.

Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.

The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.

At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.

“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”

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WeekendLife

AFRIMMA nominates Vee Mampeezy

22nd September 2020
Vee-Mampeezy

The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.

The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.

The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.

However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.

Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.

Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.

“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.

“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”

Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.

Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.

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