The inspirational Lerato Lala Tebogo has come a long way. From commanding attention as a beauty queen at the time she was crowned Miss Botswana 2005,making it to Top 20 at Miss World to calling the shots at a prominent PR firm in Gaborone. WeekendLife Editor DAVE BAAITSE sat down with the now General Manager of RedPepper PRC to discuss the secret of her success story and her being an inspiration to young girls.
Sitting across from Tebogo in her office which she just occupied seven months back, one cannot help but recall the crowning night back in 2005, where a 20 year old Tebogo strutted her stuff on the ramp, before being declared the fairest of them all. Fast forward to 10 years later, she still has the looks and touch of a beauty queen, only now she is a queen in the corporate world.
“As women in leadership positions we always have to double work so as to be recognised the same as our male counterparts in this industry,” she said. She believes that in the communications industry which is now seemingly clouded, one has to find their place in the market and the value you bring to the client should set you apart from other players. Her success is anchored around strategy.
Her biggest breakthrough as a General Manager came towards BOT 50 celebrations last year where Red Pepper was tasked with the preparations geared towards the celebrations. According to the report released by BOT 50 prior to the big event, Red Pepper was engaged for the services of opening ceremony choreography as well as directing and coordinating the celebrations. This was a staggering multi- million pula tender that was geared towards giving Batswana the best independence celebrations ever.
According to her the scale was too big and it challenged them a lot. As the face of the company, she is tasked with two basic things; the Technical, which is to do with clients’ accounts and the Operational which is more hands on, ensuring that the business runs efficiently and being able to compete in the industry.
A family woman, she has to strike a balance between her work and the family. Working from 8 am to 5pm or longer, she believes in work life integration. The mother of one daughter says when she is home she applies her mind fully to her family and does the same while at the workplace. This year will mark three years in marriage for her. She says when she is not at work, she prefers to spend quality time with her family at home and not to travel.
According to the former beauty queen, on a daily basis she receives calls and messages from young girls who see her as an inspiration seeking her advice on various matters. With a grin, she reveals that she is always more than willing to help them more especially in this era where they are faced with a lot of challenges ranging from drug abuse and the new trends of blessers.
“I would say we are very lucky to have grown up at a time where these things were very minimal,” she asserted. Tebogo has over the years become an influential personality in the entertainment industry in Botswana, hosting some of the most prestigious events in the entertainment, sporting and television calendars. Amongst her achievements, she was appointed MC for the BeMOBILE Premier League Awards (2011), Miss Botswana 2007 and 2012, the Barloworld Women’s Day Talkshow (2014), the Property Expo Conference in 2014, Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) Awards in 2014 and 2015 and Virgin Active Botswana Brand Ambassador 2016.
A TV Presenter – MC – Public Speaker – Model – Brand Ambassador – Voice Over Artist and Philanthropist, Tebogo has a spark that inspires. From her days as a continuity television presenter on Botswana Television, she has grown to understand the needs of the various audiences she engages. She was the host of the country’s first televised reality modelling and beauty search, Gemstones in 2009/10, and presented E-Zone, Botswana’s premier lifestyle and entertainment programme on Mzansi Magic (then Africa Magic) in 2008.
Tebogo is a staunch believer in the vibrancy and dynamism of women and their power to make a tangible difference in the world. It was in this spirit that she was a consulting groomer and coach for Miss Botswana from 2008 to 2012. She mentored Miss Botswana 2010 Sumaiyah Marope and Miss Botswana 2011, Emma Wareus, in their preparation for participation at the Miss World pageant, where Emma won the title of 1st Princess.
She has also cultivated a signature style, and has been a photography and ramp model for the past 10 years. She has worn the creations of some of Africa’s most talented, young fashion designers, including Lesedi Matlapeng, Aobakwe Molosiwa, and Mothusi Lesolle. She was also selected as one of the showstopper models at the President’s Day Fashion Show in 2015, and has walked the ramp in a Taibo Bacar design at the Lansmore Wedding and Fashion Expo 2015.
She has an attitude of diligence and air of grace, with a quirky edge. She is well spoken, aware of each audience and able to deliver her message succinctly, with economy of language and an express sharpness of wit. Her interest in people and the languages of expression and connection set the precedent into her evolution into Public Relations. She has worked with blue chip clients in a variety of industries, managing stakeholder engagement and publicity campaigns in areas of Legal, Financial, Beauty, FMCG and Health, and Behavioural Change.
She is currently the spokesperson for the revolutionary SKYGIRLSBW movement, a teen- led movement with a bent towards empowering teenage girls to have autonomy and confidence in themselves. Tebogo is no stranger to the complexities and nuances of modern womanhood. Her role as wife and mother allow her the opportunity to fulfil the roles that hold meaning for her, and still push the boundaries of what she deems the mainstays of her profession as a public speaker, brand ambassador and PR manager.
The month of June marks a time of celebration and reflection for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. LGBTQ+ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
This year, LGBTQ+ allies and corporate companies joined in the celebration and developed new initiatives to support the vulnerable group. On the 1st of June 2021, Botswana’s diamond mining company, Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB), launched a new project dubbed the Real You Network.
This is a platform that creates a safe, inclusive, supportive and welcoming workplace for LGBTQ+ employees to allow them to bring their whole selves to work every day and work to their full potential.
The company stresses and prides its self in coming up with projects that make it the best place for people to thrive in their truest selves, something that is in their inclusion and diversity calendar.
When speaking during the virtual launch of Real You Network, DTCB Senior Human Resources Manager, Stella Moetse said “we will reach success when the talent that we have here in the glass house represents all the different people we have in our society, especially the minorities; and these are people living with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ and not only having them, but in positions of influence and decision making. This will be the true measure of inclusion.”
In September 2017, De beers announced a three-year partnership with United Nations Women; an arm of the United Nations dedicated to Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.
As part of this partnership, the group committed to taking a holistic and long term approach to promoting gender equality within the business and communities. DTCB says, the commitment in its group has gone beyond gender to create an inclusive workplace for all.
“Because of this commitment to promote and support an inclusive workplace, DTCB which is part of the De Beers group resolved to be inclusive in its approach. As a result, we have elevated inclusion and diversity to Board level reporting. We promote awareness through training our employees on identified inclusion and diversity topics such as anti-bullying and harassment, unconscious bias and inclusive hiring.”
Moetse applauded and appreciated the role that advocacy groups for LGBTQ+ play in pursuit of their rights in society, indicating that it is not an easy task for them to given societal orientations. “It is commendable however, how they are constantly challenging us to break down any preconceptions, removing structural and societal barriers and biases.”
Technical Services Senior Manager, Prudence Mabua, shared the same sentiments, saying that LGBTQ+ persons face obstacles when it comes to accessing many of their rights, including their right to social protection.
The Real You Network, will allow for an environment of openness and promote a culture of a fully inclusive network open to all colleagues regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, she said.
“Through events such as this one, our vision is to continue creating platforms that allow for employees and individuals to share lived experiences as this is key in increasing understanding, tolerance and acceptance,” Mabua highlighted.
“There is significant ignorance and resistance to the reality of the existence of LGBTQ+ community in Botswana. While people may not have the intention to be homophobic, the language they use is often offensive. This increases the fear of coming out as people are scared of being subjected to judgement and discrimination.”
Uncovering the main objectives of the Real You Network, Mabua stressed that the platform will enable DTCB to be visible in its consciousness of LGBTQ+ matters and allegiance of the community, hold conversations to sensitize its workforce on LGBTQ+ inclusion and challenge policies and procedures as well as attracting and retaining qualified people of the LGBTQ+ community.
Further, the Network will focus on sustainability and accountability, by achieving continuity by treating inclusion and diversity as a culture not events. It will also focus on acceptance of diversity and ensuring zero discrimination culture within the organization.
Meanwhile, a study conducted in 2020 by Asher and Lyric indicates that most African countries still criminalize and stigmatize LGBTQ+ practices. These countries are anti-homosexuality and protection of LGBTQ+ person’s rights is minimal.
Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Maldives, Uganda, Iran, West Bank and Gaza, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Yemen, UAE, Qatar, Jamaica, Oman, Malawi, Malaysia as well as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria are some of the countries of the world which criminalizes homosexuality. Nigeria is the only country in the world with cruel treatment of LGBTQ+ persons.
In Nigeria, homosexuality receives up to 14 years in prison, and at most times the death penalty. In some of these countries, discussions of LGBTQ+ rights and gender expression are criminalized, flogging can occur for cross dressing, and homosexual intercourse receives 6 months to 3 years in prison.
Pro-LGBTQ+ organizations are sometimes barred, imitating the opposite sex can result in prison time and buggery receives up to 10 years in prison and hard labour.
Nonetheless, there are other countries (mostly from the West) which promote and protect the LGBTQ+ community. These countries legalized same-sex marriages, protect the community against discrimination, criminalizes LGBTQ+ violence, implement transgender legal identity laws and are safe places for LGBTQ+ persons to live in.
These are: Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Malta, Portugal, Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Uruguay, Norway, France, Iceland, Denmark, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Austria, Finland, Ireland and the United States.
Botswana once had a story love affair with the world’s biggest premium beauty pageant, Miss Universe. This was in 1999 when Botswana’s first representative at Miss Universe, Mpule Kwelagobe, effortlessly snatched the title.
It was every contestant’s beautiful dream to wear the crown, but winning at first entry was implausible if not magical. Kwelagobe made the country contented, and history was made. Taking a closure significant look at her performance at the Miss Universe held at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, Kwelagobe battled it out on and off stage with 84 contestants and showed them dust. She was in the Top 5 spot with South Africa, Venezuela, Philippines and Spain. There are countries which snatch the Miss Universe title every year.
Miss Universe 2019 was a South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi. Mpule Kwelagobe scorecard looked pretty remarkable. She scored 9.05 out of 10 on her interviews, 9.18 swimsuit, 9.36 evening gown, semi-final average 9.19 and 9.48 on the Top 5 question. These results were good enough to earn her the crown.
However, over the years (since the crowning of Mpule Kwelagobe), Botswana has been fading away from participating at the Miss Universe. Between 2002 and 2003, the country did not participate in Miss Universe but in 2004, the country sent a winning title of Miss Universe Botswana to Ecuador, Miss Universe 2004.
In 2010, Mos Syde Worldwide Entertainment Group: an international entertainment and fashion company domiciled in Botswana took over the Miss Universe Botswana pageant after a six-year absence. Tirelo Ramasedi was crowned Miss Universe Botswana 2010, and represented the country in Las Vegas on August 23. As it is right now, Ramasedi is the only former Miss Universe queen still keen in having her name shine out there: she works closely on projects aimed at empowering women and young girls.
Sadly so, 2013 was the last time Botswana participated in Miss Universe. After five years of not participating at Miss Universe pageant, the first Miss Universe Botswana Mpule Kwelagobe took over the franchise. The winner selection of Miss Universe Botswana 2019 was to remark Botswana to Miss Universe 2019, however, was cancelled.
2019 marked another possible six years since Botswana lacked participation in Miss Universe. This drastic zero participation in this premium beauty competition paved way for our neighbours South Africa to sail smoothly at the competition. Zozibini Tunzi became an instant global queen and everyone’s favourite after displaying intelligence, poise and taking up space to be crowned Miss Universe 2019.
The pageant was not held in 2020 due to COVID-19. This will be the third time in the history of the competition in which the event will be held after the calendar year has ended: this previously occurred during Miss Universe 2014 and Miss Universe 2016 (in which Botswana was not participating).
Miss Universe Organization announced early this year that the competition would be held on May 16 2021, at Seminole Hard rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, United States. Zozibini Tunzi will crown her successor at this competition.
Botswana, will not be participating at the Miss Universe 2020, again. The weakening Miss Universe Botswana has been attributed to by internal fights within the organization. But why participate at Miss Universe?
The Miss Universe Organization is a global, inclusive organization that celebrates women of all cultures and backgrounds and empowers them to realize their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success.
Women participate annually to affect positive change personally, professionally and philanthropically as inspirational leaders and role models. The delegates and titleholders that have participated in the MUO system are able to cultivate their personal, professional and philanthropic goals. These women are forward thinking and motivated not just talk about change, but to initiate it.
Prominent beauty pageants analyst in Botswana Morekolodi Smith took Weekendlife in an exclusive interview that it has been so many years of absence from participating at Miss Universe, and this shows that Botswana lacks consistency and commitment.
“The franchise holders fail to host a national pageant. I think they should hand over the license to Miss Botswana Organization because it hosts the pageant annually. Then the winner gets to participate in both Miss World and Miss Universe. They can maybe crown two representatives. Botswana has faded away from Miss Universe platform and fans have forgotten about it,” he said in an interview on Thursday.
Pranks, for a common man, is designated to the 1st of April- April fool’s day. Usually it’s the only day out of the entire 365 days one can make a fool of others and get away with practically anything, anything legal that is.
While there are fanatics who do it for amusement, there are some who do it to earn their daily bread and butter. Some obviously saw a niche to keep people fascinated especially in these emotionally straining times of COVID-19. For the record, they don’t play ordinary cards as you may think.
Their pranks are as big and as real as marriage wrecking and all the drama that comes along with it. Given Carter is not just your ordinary boy next door. The Tonota born prankster is currently taking the entire country on an emotional rollercoaster from the comfort of his home in Francistown.
At only 32-years, Carter BW’s skills of planning and executing a prank is what sets him apart from the rest. In fact one can go as far as to say that he’s the only prankster Batswana know.His ideas are unique and relevant, telling a tale that someone can sit and think about, perhaps learn from it because they are everyday life happenings that most people can relate to because they have a way of really hitting home.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, the versatile Given Carter (who is also a photographer) says the inspiration behind pranking was to introduce something not so common in Botswana, and challenge typecasts associated with art, especially modern art.
“Growing up, we only saw pranks on the television dominantly done by the whites. We never thought this is something we can do, or maybe we didn’t understand the logic behind it. But I guess, pranks are real life lessons we need, its only that they are shared in a more hilarious and sometimes obstinate way,” he said.
Given Carter told this publication that, he spends most of his time on the internet, learning more tricky skills. This is quite a remarkable observation because in this era of advanced technology, one doesn’t necessarily have to go to school to learn from the grassroot. The use of technology has made it easier for people to acquire skills and knowledge, and still do exceptionally well without being in class.
“Of course, a bit of it is common sense but I make use of the internet to learn more on how I can improve my craft. It is quite unpretentious to do a prank because they are real-life situations, so its not much of a big deal. I needed people to learn and I think I came at the right time because most people are online, and the reception is just incredible.”
He however shed light on his first video shot in Shakawe that went viral, subsequently leading to speculations of his crew’s arrest. Given Carter was however not arrested instead he was brought before the police for questioning.
“We were not arrested as people may think. We were called to write statements on what the prank was all about and we were released the same day. I believe maybe we went too far in what we depicted in the video because it’s something that the society is not yet ready to accept, but it has been happening for a long time,” he told WeekendLife.
In many Western countries, pranksters do this for a living through YouTube accounts and subscriptions. “As it is currently, I do not have a YouTube channel. I am still building a platform and I’m certain very soon it will be up and running. I am primarily focused on taking my craft to the people, and let people know more about what I do. So technically, it has been about familiarising people with the art.”
Even though that’s the case, Given Carter says there is room for paid partnerships and endorsements. After all, there is an entire crew which need money to pay the bills. He says with so much ideas spinning in his head, there is need for financial support to be able to dish out more seeing that people love his works and how realistic his pranks are.