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 COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way the world moves, actually, it has it at a standstill.
The impacts of this deadly virus are massive, and the only way to curb it from spreading is through social distancing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The pandemic had gym rooms closed to avoid crowding by fitness enthusiasts. However, some have come up with alternative ways of keeping fitness rolling even in the midst of this plague.
Prominent fitness trainer and certified sports psychologist, Chyna Mokaila couldn’t be at a standstill from working out with clients, even in the middle of a deadly virus. He has since started an online training program dubbed CMFit Virtual fitness.
The program begun during the first lockdown implemented in March 2020, but because there was no revenue coming in, the young lad had to go back to the drawing board and come up with something tangible to earn him monies.
He told Weekendlife in an exclusive interview this week that; “I had to make a sustainable solid plan that would see me doing what I do best and continue my work with or without lockdown and COVID-19. This made me tap into other markets and countries throughout the world. Currently, I have clients as far as the US, Canada, Austria, Italy, and neighbouring South Africa and Zambia.”
Chyna says the online fitness training has proven to be less risky in exposing oneself to the virus, as they get to training at the comfort of their homes with less contact.
“COVID-19 has brought a lot of sadness, depression and unhealthy habits because of being restricted to lockdowns. It goes without saying that staying fit helps individuals with depression and offers a feel good atmosphere.
Health should be our number one priority at this current moment, and the only way it can be done is virtually. People have learnt to embrace technology so we might as well divert our services to such platforms.”
Virtual fitness is cost effective, according to Chyna. “Although you get the same feel and package which comprises of consultation, nutritional guidelines, assessments and the actual training program the only difference is that the trainer is not there physically with you but virtually.”
Nutrition plays a very critical role in blocking viruses that could alter how the body system works. The right amounts of nutrients reduce risks of non-communicable diseases, increases energy levels to perform better and fight infections. Scientists say COVID-19 critically affects those with underlying health conditions.
Chyna told Weekendlife that he envisions reaching out to the world market, indicating that he will be having his training programs online as he has seen an opportunity in the digital space.
“This will start with repackaging my brand so that it is at par with the best in the world, hence why I have moved from Chyna’s kata-Bo to CMFit which provides more detailed programs anyone can do on their own- following my virtual programs.”
In his rigorous efforts to help people realize the significance of an active and healthy lifestyle, Chyna has collaborated with the BTV Morning Fitness Show and Yarona FM’s Fatboy Challenge which saw him landing another health segment with the radio station.
The fitness enthusiast has also worked with the senior men’s and women’s national football team, as well as the karate team as the conditioning coach. Internationally, Chyna has collaborated with Essence Events from the United States.
His core duty was to travel Africa promoting active lifestyle and health.Chyna is currently a conditioning coach for Township Rollers, an engagement that sees him guide and work with the team, keeping them at pick in terms of their fitness levels.
This enables them to cope with the demands of the game without fail throughout the season.
The country’s biggest beauty pageant, Miss Botswana, has eroded over the years. Beside the fact that crowned Queens dismally fail at Miss World year-in-year-out, the pageantry itself has been losing its shine in terms of organization, implementation and just throwing a glamourous event like it used to do before producing little to no tangible results.
Of course it started in 2018 when Miss Botswana was just disorganized and boring. The event was held at Masa Square Hotel, when only three participants battled it out for the blue crown.
Moitshepi Elias was crowned the princess that Friday night. That was technically the last time we saw her smile because, even if she did at Miss World, her smile wasn’t convincing enough.
The judges felt she was not good enough, as she was not even close to Top 40. In the history of the pageant, Miss Botswana 2010; Emma Wareus and Miss Botswana 1997; Mpule Kwelagobe are the only queens to be remembered as those who made a great impact as they reached top positions at Miss World and Miss Universe. Wareus was crowned the first runner up, while Kwelagobe snatched the title to become Miss Universe 1999.
Miss Botswana 2020 could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something that left beauty pageant analysts stunned. Some feel this is a huge setback for the organizers, Development Advance Institute (DAI). This organization took over in 2018 and came with a plan for Miss Botswana, in which they strive to give the pageant a facelift.
Prominent beauty pageant analyst, Morekolodi Smith, told Weekendlife that a gap year delayed the implementation of the plan. “DAI aimed at revamping the organization, bidding to host Miss World and it will be tough to reach those aspirations due to this year gap. It still has to work on the reputation of Miss Botswana which has been deteriorating for years.
DAI promised a new era for Miss Botswana, I had expectations that they will crown a well-rounded girl who can bring glory to this country. With everything on hold and zero communication on what to expect, I see failure. The silence and inactivity is almost eerie. I wouldn’t be surprised if DAI drops Miss Botswana and another organization takes over.”
Smith says part of Miss Botswana could be held virtually, to avoid the stillness and dropping in rankings. “Auditions, short-listings and preliminary interviews could be held virtually but not the actual final show. There is no need for the final show to be held virtually because traditionally Miss Botswana is never contested by more than 50 girls. The number is always narrowed to 12 and 16.”
He explained that the selection committee could go through all applications and select the Top 15, adding that the 15 would then be profiled in-depth followed by official photoshoots and glam shots. “They could then take part in multimedia campaigns and host webinars.
Pre-recording the swimsuit and evening gown preliminary competition as well as featuring contestant video profiling could add magic. This is the time to maximize on video content.”Smith says there could be talent segment where contestants showcase their talent to entertain, and it could be recorded and each contestant’s video can be uploaded on social media for online audience and the public gets to vote for their favourite, and the winner gets to perform during the final show.
“Then the final show can be streamed live on social media platforms. Miss Botswana could have all Top 15 contestants do an opening number, followed by self-introductions then their short video profiles played. It can feature live onstage swimsuit and evening gown competition.”
After the swimsuit and evening gown competition, Smith said the question and answer session could be held, leading to crowing of the next Miss Botswana. He however, said Miss Botswana’s performance is fuelled by many challenges that persisted for quite a stretch now.
“One major challenge is that the Miss Botswana pageant is held very late. Our queens have limited time to prepare. This leads to half cooked Beauty with a Purpose project. No one excels at Miss World without an impactful Beauty with a Purpose project.”
He suggested that Miss Botswana could be held at least eight months before Miss World festival so that the winner can work on her project, a project that needs to be documented and packaged well. “I realized that queens here don’t have physical input on their projects. They always look glamorous and do not actually do the work. They are always on VIP mode and only come to cut the ribbon.
It is time that stops today. Tiara should be put aside and sleeves should be rolled. Preparation and packaging is key.”“It is essential to have Miss Botswana every year so that she can reach out to communities and add value to those in need.
Being Miss Botswana is more like an ambassador, the winner gets to represent Botswana internationally, precisely at Miss World. I think Botswana requires that global positioning space, as this works well with country branding because Miss World is a premium event.”
Fashion is a thing of the past and yet it keeps on evolving. For an ordinary Motswana young person growing up in a rural setting, fashion might sound like an unfamiliar word because they don’t get to comprehend what the fuss is all about. For those lucky to have TV sets, they are likely to see a glimpse into what fashion really is.
Of course there are prominent fashionistas in the country, as well as the famous ones only seen on TV.These can be the likes of Bonang Matheba, Pearl Thusi and Boity Thulo. As equally talented as they are in the entertainment industry in South Africa, they also have an eye for fashion.
They are regularly ahead on the latest and upcoming trends within the fashion industry. These women have a creative vision and trend-setting style, and their sizzling outfits grace magazine covers week-in-week-out.
Well, that is a story for another day as that is likely to deem lights for our very own fashion stylist, Tumie Nthutang. She is underrated and given a side look, but she is a force to be reckoned with especially when it comes to styling celebrities and prominent public figures who love fashion.
She is not only a fashion stylist, she does blogging and she is a digital content creator with a YouTube channel up and running. Tumie Nthutang is a brand influencer, and she is doing pretty well for herself. In an exclusive interview with Weekend Life, Nthutang says her love for fashion was fuelled by an influx of questions from people asking how she can enhance their look, something that she saw fitting to make as a professional hustle.
“I would receive a request of that nature and wouldn’t turn it down. The country has very minimal fashion stylists, so it has always been my pleasure to jump in and help someone look amazingly beautiful. At the end of the day, its coin coming into my bank account,” she says.
It is a dream come true for any entrepreneur to see their clients’ content by the service offered, and Nthutang feels the same. There has been a trend whereby unsatisfied customers cat fight with service providers on social media.
Nevertheless, Nthutang said “Once I am done with styling consultation, what makes me happy is obviously seeing my client’s confidence elevated. A spring in their step as they walk and most importantly, seeing them in love with the new look in the mirror.”
For quite a stretch now, Batswana have been lacking behind when it comes to fashion. Nthutang shared the same sentiments, however, expressing gratefulness as she feels Batswana are now catching up. It’s never too late, so they say! “I think they are slowly catching onto lifestyle, of which fashion and style fall under and it’s taking time but social media has definitely influenced and actually solved the mess.”
Besides fashion styling and being an ‘It-Girl’ on Instagram, Nthutang is a brand influencer having worked with remarkable brands in and across borders. She has also dipped her hand in the YouTube cookie jar, creating entertaining content for her subscribers. YouTube pays account holders according to the number of views, even though rumour has it that as for Botswana, it is not the case.
“I create content on my different social media platforms and partner with different brands on a wide variety of campaigns. My content on YouTube is mainly an extension and uncensored version of the content that’s on the other platforms.”
According to her profile, she has worked with First National Bank Botswana FNBB, Ultimate Sports Union, Tanqueray, Volkswagen as well as Cotton On. She is also a public speaker, having featured on different speaking platforms such as Sneakers Expo, Ideas Expo, Branding 101 Masterclass as well as End Girl Hate Self Love Soiree 2018. Nthutang has a Degree in LLB from the University of Botswana.