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Vusi’s CD & DVD Launch; an inspirational Youth Empowerment narrative

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela.

Regular readers of my offering, here and elsewhere, close friends and immediate family will attest to the fact that I am not a night crawler or a party animal. The word ‘boring’ has been used describe my lifestyle and personality several times. 

I’m used to it; feel free to describe me as such, if you want. The only time I’m not home resting, writing or reading during weekends and holidays is when I’m either honoring an official invitation or there is a really special lady involved directly or indirectly.

The reason I prefer to be indoors on weekends and holidays is simply because I’m not blessed with singing and dancing tactics. It is also because I’m one of those that are not economically blessed; I honestly cannot afford to sustain the night life lifestyle. I also don’t like the sight of fellow citizens being divided into socioeconomic classes; they call them platinum, gold, silver and bronze circles in most cases.

I know our country has been declared one of the most unequal societies in the world, but I still can’t stand being in a place where societal and economic inequalities are proudly promoted and celebrated. At the recent Miss Botswana pageant a colleague laughed at me when I told him I will not eat the food offered in our section.

I explained to him I am doing it in solidarity with fellow countrymen in the same room but denied the food simply because they are victims of manufactured socioeconomic inequalities. I told him I religiously subscribe to the African sprit of “Ubuntu”. I also shared with him a short story of an anthropologist that proposed a game to children in an African tribe. he put a basket full of fruits near a tree and told the children that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.

When he told them to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that when one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said, ‘UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?’ UBUNTU’ is simply a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as: "I am because we are.”

These are simply part of the reasons why I prefer staying home resting, writing or reading during weekends and holidays.

But the past weekend was a unique weekend, an extraordinary weekend. It was one of the very few weekends I happily made a voluntary decision to forego my comfort, rebel against the cold and upset my already upset cash flow by attending a music show. This time around it was music festival by a renowned local gospel artist –Vusi Mtoukfa.

Based on the buildup, the actually event and the event aftermath, it is safe to conclude that it was indeed an amazing show. Most, if not all, media houses speak highly of the event. Similarly, based on the number of cooperate sponsors that associated with the show, it was evidently an extraordinary show.

I am not an expert on issues of; stage presence, security, time management, sound quality, stage setup and so forth, but most experts were in agreement that all aspects were on point. As confessed earlier, I’m not blessed with singing and dancing skills, but from the way I witnessed the crowd move and sing along to Vusi’s songs, one could easily tell the crowd was having a really great time.

Well, I must also admit I had fulfilling night in my own right. For me attending Vusi’s show and seeing multitudes of people embracing his music, was the highlight of the night. It felt like a fiction story in real life. It felt like watching part of a sad series with a happy ending.

Like most of you, I do not know Vusi personally, I have never met him, I hope to get an opportunity to meet him one day. Like most of you, I’m just familiar with his songs and, like most of you, I have learnt about his fortunate and unfortunate life stories through the media.  From my understanding; Vusi is a gifted young artist, a gospel singer to be precise. He started singing at the tender age of 13, for a very young artist in the early 2000s his music and talent did exceptionally well.

Unfortunately as he gradually graduated into his prime teenage years, his life and music career turned otherwise. Media reports tell us he did not do well in his studies, he messed up his music contracts at the time, he turned to drugs and alcohol, and he also had endless cases of promiscuity and affairs with older women. At some point he accused of murder. Unfortunately as is the nature with our society, his tribulations and challenges became center stage and made headline news.

As is the nature with our society, he was swiftly and conveniently written-off and literally buried alive. His downfall was celebrated in some corners of the country. Nonetheless, after many years of harsh hardships, tribulations, controversy and criticism, he evidently triumphed against all odds. He dusted the dust, nursed his wounds and did not give up on life and his career. During the darkest moments, he maintained focus with hope of seeing the light.

Though it was evidently not easy and it took a very long time, it seems perseverance, dedication and faith in God pulled him through. In this regard to me his latest CD and DVD launch was mainly about this, and my attendance was fundamentally to honor and celebrate this reality. 

More importantly, I intensely believe Vusi’s real life story is not just a tale of restoration and a music career. It’s a story with fundamental teachings and inspiration for young people in our country. It is a story about the life most of Youth battle with.

It is a story about living a genuine human life. One wise fellow once said, ‘show me a man who has never made a mistake, and I will show you one who has never lived’. It is a unique and necessary story; it is a classic real life story. It is a story most young people need to hear quite often. It is a story that can, and should, be used to inspire and restore lives of many young people across the country. It is a story destined to give hope to the despairing.

As youth advocate I have seen many cases of despair among our country’s children, it is really disheartening. Socioeconomic hardships have seriously driven some of our young citizens into lives of; crime, drugs, prostitution and bleakness.

Some are already behind bars, some are in psychiatric hospitals and some have committed suicide. One of the greatest challenges with these young people is restoring hope and self-confidence, convincing them that there is a second chance in their lives.

Though the NYP (National Youth Policy) and associated guiding Youth Development Frameworks speak profoundly about Youth rehabilitation and restoration, it is clear there is still way much more that needs to be done in this area. I believe Vusi’s life story is one of the tangible (real life) stories that should be used to inspire and change lives of many young people in this country.


*Taziba is a Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development (7189 0354/gtaziba@yahoo.co.uk)

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WeekendLife

Fashion without Borders flops

26th October 2020
FASHION WITHOUT BORDERS 2020

Fashion makes a statement, which is why Fashion without Borders tries by all means to get all amazing young designers to create dresses to fit every personality- from princess to punk, and everything in between.

Pretty obvious though, the 2020 edition flopped. It didn’t come as a surprise because the taxing COVID-19 pandemic has had overwhelming impacts on almost everything in the world.

Just when we thought Fashion without Borders 2020 will come much better than the previous tedious one, we were floored to see that there was little to no difference. The show was held at the most famous Molapo Crossing Stanbic Piazza, which without doubt was a perfect outdoor venue to host a fashion show, it didn’t however look like it was a fashion show filled with glitz and glam, if anything the show looked more like a public meeting.

The venue lack creativity and unruffled ambience. There were few chairs lined perfectly with a distance of two meters in between as a way of observing COVID-19 health protocols, but it looked more of a wedding than a fashion show.

As if that wasn’t startling enough, some important guests were told that there are no chairs for them to occupy. They had no choice but to stand on their feet the entire two shows, unacceptable and unprofessional for an event of its magnitude.

The Piazza is paved with light brownish small bricks that nearly made half of the models tumble. They kept on trembling, quaking and walking like new born calves, it was painful to watch to say the least. A ramp would have solved this issue.

Fashion without Borders is such a prodigious and immense esteemed fashion event that shouldn’t be seen with lot of glitches, especially that it features international designers from as far as Nigeria. The show was divided into two phases.

Attendees had to purchase two tickets should they want to attend both shows. There wasn’t really much of a difference between the two shows though.Security guards were all over trying to make sure everyone has the right tag for the second show, and people felt hassled.

As always, there were goodie bags with some nice gifts in them to be given to attendees at the fashion show. Some folks got their hands on the gifts and while others left out probably because the providers felt whichever way about that particular person.

I was reliably informed that some of the ‘big’ organizers were on quarantine and only underlings had to dance to the music. Some of them, according to a key witness, irked some members of the media. The media came in great numbers to support the event, like always, only for them to be treated less than.

Some of them left their cameras on and the ‘big’ organizers were not so happy about this from their quarantine centres. We just hope they recovered from the trauma of the COVID-19 contact tracing, as well as the droning, muddled event they threw this year.

In the fashion sense, a lot of folks felt it lacked substance. From the theme itself “The Phygital Experience”, most attendees were already lost, having no clue what it meant or how to respond to it.

Some felt the designers brought collections with less creativity, which spoke with little to no volume, while others were not fascinated by what was physically and digitally presented by the designers and models.

 

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WeekendLife

Surviving breast cancer

26th October 2020
Surviving breast cancer-Otshepheng Mthimkhulu

Breast cancer has been a nightmare for most women globally, and according to World Health Organization (WHO), the condition will continue claiming lives of many for years to come.

For Otshepheng Mthimkhulu, a 36-year old police officer at Ramotswa, had her life turned upside down by the illness. It has been a miserable reality getting to know that she has breast cancer, and for the rest of her life, she will be surviving with a single breast.

The small blood stains on her right breast stirred her to go see the doctor, who then recommended pain killers to ease the agony. Not knowing what she is suffering from, Mthimkhulu was told to come for check-up the next month which ultimately failed to give her a diagnosis.

It was only when she was getting seriously concerned about this condition that she followed up on the check-ups for the next six months. After being sent from pillar to post pertaining to mammogram that she was supposed to undergo, she finally got tested at a private hospital where she tested and did a biopsy.

“Unfortunately the results came back and I was told I have a metaplastic carcinoma breast cancer on stage 3,” she said.With her worse fear a reality, Mthimkhulu started her chemotherapy which took eight circles. “After the last circle I decided that I was not going for surgery because at the time, I was on training at the police college.

Lot of questions flocked my mind, lost in thoughts how I am going to face the world with only a single breast. That was the saddest time of my life.”Mthimkhulu had to do mastectomy and start another chemotherapy Herceptin because her hormones tested positive. She did not know what was next, only to be told that the cancer is now in her lungs.

Questions came rising and falling, and no answers were close enough. She was devastated, her dreams were crumpled and her life carried up-side-down. Quizzed on how she survived all the way through, she told Weekendlife that she got a little of inspiration from a series she watched, saying that she learnt that actually, there are other complicated conditions people are suffering and dying from, and cancer can be much better.

“I then started opening up to people and telling them about breast cancer. I earned great support from my close associates, something that gave me hope. At one point I met a woman who introduced me to a fighter group that abetted us with everything we needed.

It was a consecration I must say, because most of us felt much better and alive. Learning that we have breast cancer was just a fairy-tale to us.”They say every woman needs a man. Mthimkhulu found her husband who has been supportive and courageous throughout this journey. She said there are other substantial women who offered artificial breast, wigs and counselling.

No one ever told Mthimkhulu that this will be smooth sailing nor did she expect it to be. She went through overwhelming experiences that made her hopeless at times. According to her, at times her doctor’s appointments would be cancelled last minute. As much as that can be discouraging, she held on nonetheless.

“I started experiencing the side effects of the chemotherapy when I lost my hair, nails and skin complexion. I was always fatigued and stressed most of the times and I was always on sick leave. This was fracturing because I never thought at one point I will be living with cancer,” she said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Award-Winning Youth Activist, Omphemetse Mmolai, through her organization Berekela Botswana Monana in collaboration with LEGABIBO will be hosting breast cancer survivors, well-wishers, and other relevant stakeholders for breast cancer awareness event in Lobatse this Saturday.

Mmolai told Weekendlife reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang that there will be a hill climbing exercise meant to sensitize the public about the breast cancer condition, adding that the Lobatse DHMT and LEGABIBO organizations will be having pertinent presentations.

“I have been involved in different activities geared at addressing various issues that affect the youth, women and girls. It is significant to note that these activities were conducted in Lobatse, so this month as it is the time to raise awareness about breast cancer, that will be my main focus.”

Quizzed on why hill climbing, she said this is a way of showing hardships of what breast cancer survivors go through. This is to say they comprehend the circumstances they are being challenged with, and that they are not alone in this fight.

 

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WeekendLife

A.T.I: Batswana’s Judas Iscariot

19th October 2020
Atasaone Molemogi aka

Atasaone Molemogi, who goes by the stage name of A.T.I, is yet again making headlines and trending on social media platforms.

The eccentric and somewhat lose cannon artist is under fire for the stunts he pulled early this year. A.T.I had gone over and above to enlighten and fight for Batswana’s rights against according to him, foreigners who have monopolised the country.

So much so Atasaone recorded a video ranting and hurling insults while in front of Satar Dada’s Motor Centre at Fairground Mall. That was one of his many episodes. However, the one that gave him the ‘struggle icon’ persona was when he was arrested for making a video in front of the State House, this landed the dear lad in the cells of Urban Police Station and later transferred to Central Police Station.

Batswana gathered at the Central Police to demonstrate and demand the maverick be released. A.T.I became the Mandela of Botswana, the voice of the voiceless, the Messiah Batswana needed. A.T.I could not become any bigger till another outspoken personality stepped on the stage, Duma Gideon Boko, lawyer and President of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The aberrant lawyer did not disappoint, especially when he flamboyantly swung his gown on like Superman in front of the press. This was the moment, Botswana’s two outspoken and nonconformists were wearing their capes to save the ordinary citizen from years of being subjected to mediocracy.

Molemogi had Batswana believe that indeed they were being treated unfairly in their own country and incited many to take up arms and fight for a better Botswana for Batswana. The people stood rock solid behind the maverick artist.

That is until A.T.I pulled the rug under their feet and went ahead and met Tumiso Rakgare, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. The very same Minister he vehemently declined to meet, hell-bent on only having an audience with the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi.

What transpired between Rakgare and A.T.I is not known, but any Tom, Dick and Harry can guess that A.T.I, one way or another, was enticed by something said or done by the Minister because the recluse was as silent as a lamb after the meet.

Now, this publication by no means implies that Rakgare offered Atasaone anything valuable but observing the cries of the masses it may be deducted to something along those lines.All this however happened mid this year and anyone would think that it would be old news and a closed chapter, not to be.

The public cannot for the life of them get over how A.T.I used them to push his agenda and then leave them hanging. A sin unforgiveable in the eyes of Batswana. And so the masses have to have their displeasure made known.

A.T.I has been awarded a new name, Judas Iscariot. The infamous follower of Jesus Christ who sold the latter to the Jews for 30 pieces of silver. Batswana made the reference having deducted that they and their dreams have been sold in the same way Christ was sold off. A.T.I has sabotaged and sold the struggle, for what or how much is still not known.

While people find it hard to understand why ATI threw in the towel, the controversial singer seems unbothered and does not regret anything. He however cited that he is not fond of the name ‘Judas Iscariot’. He further stated that people should understand that it is easy for him to get lost in the midst of everything.

A.T.I shared with this publication that he needed to start somewhere in order to meet the President. He further mentioned to this publication that they discussed how best they can assist the youth and he was telling the Minister about his clothing line, and asking for support from the minister. None of the things mentioned have materialized however.

In his defence he said, “We need to be able to save ourselves before we can be able to save others. People should stop laughing at people who supported me and they should stop calling me Judas Iscariot. The reason why I was going to war when the year began, was because I needed security and I needed our leaders to give me answers.

I was scared I wanted more communication. With time I noticed that I am losing myself. No one told me what to do but I did what I did and I did exactly how l felt it was best,” he said.“A lot of people felt I am their answer, no! I am not anybody’s answer that is why when I was still at it I noticed the saviour mentality. I felt I was back at it again.

I cannot try to save the world all the time. You cannot change the world that don’t see the need to change their mental state.

At the same time the people I am trying to do it for, are still stuck in 89. I did it for the people I needed to do it for and for the truest results to be visible.”

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