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Yoko- Ono the first Motswana to ply her trade in Nollywood

Yoko-Ono Manowe

At 25 years Yoko-Ono Manowe, a graduate of the University of Witwatersrand is an acclaimed actress and qualified movie-maker (producer and director) based in Nollywood, a sobriquet that originally referred to the Nigerian film industry.

She was discovered at an early age of 13 as having an enormous talent while she was at Gaborone’s Maru a-Pula High School.

She recalls that Warren Nebe who was the school head, Aldo Brincate and Gao Lemmenyane both influenced her career, encouraging her to be onstage.   

Her first theatrical performance was Sarafina Comes to Town in 2007 where she played the lead actress in a full house Maitisong Theatre at a show where tickets were sold out. She was more than overwhelmed when the State-owned local newspaper Daily News put her on the front page and other private media went into raptures over the performance she displayed. At that particular juncture she was convinced her dream was going to be realised, she wanted to be a movie-star of great repute.

The name Yoko-Ono is Japanese, she was named after wife to the late John Lennon. Her mother was a die-hard fan of the Beetles, the rock British band from Liverpool that Lennon was a member of. She grew up watching a lot of Nollywood films, her exam performance, which was her last stage performance, was based on the two Nollywood “short boys” and acclaimed actors Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikediedzi and the comedy piece was titled Tom Boys from Abuja and alongside her friend they played the characters.

Her performance at the Wits downstairs theatre earned her a standing ovation, and it was from then that she lived in character, as the play had penetrated theatre revellers that saw her show. Throughout the remainder of her university days, she spoke Nigerian pidgin because that was how now people identified her.

Her inroad to the Nollywood industry was a heavenly call. In her third year the Nollywood “short boys”, along with Ejike Asiegbu “The Godfather” Desmond Elliot and Patience Ozokwor “Mama G” came to Johannesburg and she was got a VIP invitation for a dinner, particularly to meet the “short boys”. That night she couldn’t eat, she literally went crazy.

She was later introduced to the movie- star Desmond Elliot who immediately sponsored her to go to Nollywood. In their conversation about the movie industry he was so impressed about her deep knowledge for movies that he carved out a role for her as an international employee named Betty in his award winning movie, Finding Mercy. This made her the first Motswana actress to breakthrough Nollywood.

Short in 2013, the film was released last year and it went on to win Best Drama in Golden Icon Academy awards hosted in Houston Texas. It is currently airing on Africa Magic channel 152.In the movie, she was acts alongside big Nollywood names like Rita Dominic, Uti Nwachukwu (Big Brother Africa 5 winner), Chioma Chukwukwa Akpotha, Blossom Chukwujweku, some of the stars she grew up watching and never thought she will one day meet in person. The following year she was called back to shoot “One last word” alongside Nollywood hunk Majid Michel.

Yoko came in just at the time Nollywood was introducing new Nigerian Cinema, the films are of higher quality from the traditional home videos and are now cinema standard shot with the latest RED Cameras. However, in the second film she speaks Setswana and represents her culture. The legendary Desmond Elliot wanted to showcase cross culture and the expansion of Nollywood and welcoming new Diasporas talent.  

During her stay in Nigeria working for Nollywoood more jobs were coming up and she started to be concerned about coming back home- being patriotic, she advocates for locality. Her talent raised more questions from the Nigerians who wanted to know more about the Botswana industry, thus urging her to complete her studies and come back home and first build her national identity.

That is what she is currently doing and Batswana can expect to see her more on local screens next year and she is now signed under Zen Promotions and managed by one of the few female promoters to have made it in Botswana, Zenzele Hirschfield. National ground breaking projects are underway under her 2016 movement titled “Local for Global”.

She hasn’t abandoned Nollywood and she will be returning to West Africa after being satisfied with the national identity.

“I just want to make sure this time ke tsamaya ka serite se ko godimo”, said Yoko- Ono talking to WeekendLife in Gaborone last week.

For now she wants Batswana to know that she is an artist and she owes her hand to the national flow of activities, the Local for Global projects will achieve and demonstrate exactly that.

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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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WeekendLife

Miss Earth Botswana catwalks to save the environment

22nd September 2020
MISS EARTH

Miss Earth Botswana is an annual local environmental-themed beauty pageant competition promoting environmental awarenessconservation and social responsibility. The reigning Queen dedicated her year to promoting specific projects and often addressing issues concerning the environment.

The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.

Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.

Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)

Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.

“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”

For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”

“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.

Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.

“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.

When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.

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