The three Cities Road Trip Challenge, a Rea Vaya Travel Company tour to Manzini Swaziland, Maputo with a final stop in Johannesburg this past festive season was a marvel.
The three-Coach procession of the newest kid on the travel and tours block took off from Gaborone into South Africa through Tlokweng Border Post in a revolutionary easterly pivot deep into the heart of Southern Africa. One of the prized takeaways from the Rea Vaya’s 3 Cities Challenge is definitely the merriment of fellow holidaymakers.
Strangers effortlessly became friends and conversations flowed with ease into the night, topics changing in an instant: from the politics back at home to the “chameleonic-ways of the media”-so they said. Two things struck me early in this sojourn: One of them was waking up to the world class South African road network. Even to the eye of a lay man, South African roads come across very urbane and sophisticated. The infrastructure is testament to the country’s size of economy and status as a regional and continental powerhouse.
The roads strike a traveler as having been built to last. They do not bear the scars of reconstruction that afflict ours. Aesthetically they are very appealing, adorned with road marks that are alien to this region of ours. The second has to do with the efficacy of the South African traffic police who dotted each highway, thoroughfare and street in the especially accident prone season of festivities.
Slicing through the Mpumalanga province en route to the Matsamo Border Post proved to be the mother of all contrasts. It was a reminder of what we have and what we do not have back at home. The land is characterised by towering mountains, huge gushing rivers winding alongside the mountain ranges, flanked by green undergrowth. The land also bore creeks, ravines and valleys so deep and in a scale no one among us had ever seen before. It was the stuff that Sci-Fi’s, Western and adventure motion picture is made of.
However, this is not to suggest that the great and long drawn mountain ranges have been spared the plough blades of Afrikaner farmers. Eucalyptus trees used to make gum poles and electric pylons are planted on top of these mountains. These trees are planted in such a manner that they resemble a pseudo-artwork of sorts. They are planted in rows tilting in different directions and are different sizes. They are also planted at different times of the year so that they can be lumbered in precise sequence. The result of this is eucalyptus fields of varying sizes.
When one passes the customs area of the Jeppes Reef/Matsamo Border Post; a point of entry between South Africa and Swaziland, the immediate striking feature in the skyline is the humongous mountain ranges. Another immediate recognizable change as one enters Swaziland from South Africa is the change in quality of the road network. Swazi ones are narrow, with scant shoulders and faded markings.
Swaziland is a mountain Kingdom in its own right. From Jeppes Reef/Matsamo border to the nearest town of Pigs Peak, the road meanders up and down mountains which collide to form deep valleys, some of them with flowing waters. These roads can give a jalopy the road test of its life.
Swazi villages dot these mountains. These mountain villages seem off limits for policing as they are simply out of reach for vehicles. Manzini which is one of the two largest cities in the Kingdom is fairly a small but urban city. It is home to Ezulwini Valley, the kingdom’s number one tourism cash cow. The valley encompasses different hotels such as Lugogo Sun Hotel, Happy valley Hotel and Casino among many others.
The Valley is also home to the Execution Rock also known as Nyonyane. According to legend, Swazis who committed capital offences in the pre-independence era were taken uphill and forced to leap to their deaths off the high cliff. Swazi warriors would edge an offender with spear jabs from the back.
Swaziland tourism even admits that the valley is spread over many kilometers stating, in its website: “The valley has no convenient road signs to demarcate where it begins and ends. It is generally understood to extend from the bottom of the Malagwane Hill southeast along the MR103 as far as the Lusushwana River, where the latter crosses the road just west of Lobamba, and is bordered by the Luphohlo/Lugogo Mountains to the west and the Mdzimba Mountains to the east. Some extend this definition to encompass Lobamba, Mlilwane and indeed the entire length of the MR103 as far as Matsapha.”
In local proportions, this might cover an area roughly from Kgale View to Broadhurst or even Tlokweng. In its expanse, the valley’s attractions include hotels, restaurants, hot springs, casinos, a cinema, craft markets, art galleries, riding stables, a nature reserve, a golf course and a cultural village and a mall. Most visitors pass this way, and those who spend just one night in the kingdom will probably spend it here.
One of the most visited and revisited place in the valley is the Matenga Cultural village. Mantenga is a small protected area of 725 hectares in a secluded corner of the Ezulwini Valley; it is only two kilometres from a major road. The Mantenga Falls are said to be Swaziland's best-known falls, and the largest in terms of volume of water (95m high).
The reserve is home to the Mantenga Cultural Village, a living museum of old traditions and represents a classical Swazi lifestyle during the 1850s. It comprises 16 huts, kraals and byres for cattle and goats, reed fences and other structures. The dance troupe in Matenga includes Swazi warriors and maidens partaking in an electrifying song and dance. Mantenga Cultural Village is the only tourist facility in Swaziland with its own fully-fledged permanent troupe.
Since 2004, Mantenga Cultural Group is said to have toured several European countries for a series of festivals and private appearances in countries such as Belgium, German, and France. Forging north east proceeding to Mozambique through the Mhlumeni/Namaacha Border Post it was evident that Swaziland is almost exclusively made of mountains as they start to recede as one tears forward into the Mozambican interior.
Mozambique is a hot and humid country. To some people it can be a jolt of culture shock though. With a population of 23 million one item that took many aback was the magnitude of hawkers and their tenacity when doing business. They mill around foreigners literally forcing one to buy.
Maputo is a vibrant city with historical sights of its own. One is the Samora Machel statue in central Maputo. Our visit to the country coincided with the shooting to death of former President, Armando Guebuza’s daughter, Valentina Guebuza by her husband. The tour guide told us that Valentina was one of the richest people in the country despite being only 38 years. He further disclosed that suspicion in the country was that her father pillaged the country’s assets and fronted with her more so that she was known for her riches but not business acumen.
The ultimate attraction in Mozambique was a boat cruise to the Portuguese Island, a few nautical miles from the mainland. Beaches in the mainland boasted dirty waters and one would not enjoy their holiday experience with nagging hawkers anyway. However the Portuguese Island boasted white sandy beaches and blue waters. It was so picture perfect that even a marriage proposal was done on the island by two lovebirds.
In retrospect, even though the sojourn had its own glitches, it was some of these that made the trip even worthwhile to remember.Coming back to Botswana the melancholy of having to part with fellow holiday maker friends was palpable in the coach. I had already made friends. Monty Siamangwe, Boaz, Masego and Tapologo were some of them.
Even as I write this piece I’m still hung on the nostalgia of the Rea Vaya 3 Cities Road Trip Challenge. It is something I will definitely do again this year. It is doubtlessly a revolutionary travel package by Rea Vaya Travel Company that gives holidaymakers a multicultural and multistate experience.
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.