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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

Self-taught fashion designer speaks

26th July 2022
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A job, lucrative or not, is a job after all. Sometimes one has to compromise in order to make a living, few people get a job their dream jobs. But once in a while there is an emergence of people who listen to their inner calling to pursue their passion.

The founder and head designer of Butterfly Couture, Chawa July is one of those few people who left their job to pursue their passion. An inspiring fact about July is that she is a self-taught fashion designer, she used to copy patterns from her old clothes until she learnt how to draw them, and she also searched information from the internet to increase her knowledge and skills.

“It all started as a hobby from my love for beautiful dresses and I started adjusting and making clothes for myself. Gradually people around me started to take interest in my craft and the hobby slowly grew into a profitable business,” July said.

The 41 year fashion designer from Molepolole worked her way up in the Procurement space for over 10 years. She worked at Stanbic Bank, Kromberg & Schubert and Clover Dairy as a Procurement supervisor. Her last job before she entered the fashion industry was a Manager for Contacts & Sourcing at a Facilities Management Company.

She established her fashion house in October 2019 and it has become synonyms with elegant wedding gowns and exquisite evening wear. July said when designing she is inspired by various aspects such as the client’s personality, the mood of the event and the theme. She further mentioned that every opportunity is to show her craft so she always aims to please.

“Every Butterfly Couture piece must represent the elegance and the creativity the brand is about,” she said. Butterfly Couture has adorned beauty queens; Miss Botswana 2021/2022 Ambrociah Samboko at Miss Universe in South Korea and Miss Botswana 2019,Oweditse Fafah Phirinyane during her reign of which is the highlight of her career. They have also marked their presence in a few fashion events locally and in the neighbouring countries.”

They showcased at The Grand Palm Wedding Expo, Masa Fashion Show, Miss Botswana Fashion Show and Sacunda plus Size Fashion Show. The will also be showcasing at Gabs July Fashion Show on the 15th of July alongside the South African designer, popularly known as the King of glamour David Tlale.

July also identified that one of the challenges they face in the couture is that, it’s a seasonal business. “There are times in the year when the business is great and challenging. Winter in particular, is difficult time to stay afloat as there aren’t as many events that people are inspired to dress spectacularly for,” she said. She further said that her aim is to be a prime couturier of choice in Botswana.

“Craft like your life depends on it because every happy client is 10 more referrals” is what she said when asked to serve a word of wisdom to people hoping to make it in the fashion industry.

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WeekendLife

Gospel awards re-organised

26th July 2022
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The Botswana Gospel Music Awards (BOGMA) and the Annual Gospel Awards (AGA) are said to be no longer in existence and a joint venture project has been put up that will carry out the awarding of gospel musicians.

The new entity has been established as Gospel Music Awards, which is a project at this moment is nearer to dishing out the first Gospel Awards under the leadership of the dissolved entities (BOGMA and AGA). “The difference is the same, it is just that the two projects were run by different minds which had differing objectives,” said the project coordinator, Letsweletse Moshabi when asked what the difference was between the two previous awards.

He added that at this junction their focus is on the future of the gospel musicians and they would like to direct their energies to the new project and forgo the past projects. “The Music market especially the gospel genre is too small and that basically means the very small market was experiencing the imbalance in the supply and demand forces. At that stage, supply was more than the demand so the reason for the joint forces is to allow the supply and demand forces to readjust and form equilibrium,” added Moshabi.

The mandate and objectives of the project are to recognize and award gospel music talent, to create awareness of the Botswana gospel music industry and to create a platform where fellow musicians may exchange ideas and network amongst themselves and approach international markets in cohesion.

The first of these joint awards will be held on the 27th August 2022 at Molapo Showcase under the theme ‘Cohesiveness to Build’ where about 18 categories will be up for grabs.

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WeekendLife

Makhadzi, Master KG invade Thamaga

18th July 2022
Makhadzi,-Master-KG-invade-Thamaga

The Kumnandi Ekhaya musik festival will be held on the 30th September 2022 at Thamaga village. The event coincides with the release of famous host, Dj Ngwazi’s first album called ‘spring day’ on the 2nd of September 2022.

The Thamaga born and raised Lefika Lushen Kebatlege is a disc jockey and a music producer signed under WanitwaMos Entertainment in South Africa. Famously known as Dj Ngwazi and formally known as DJ superstar, he has really worked hard to become one of the finest export DJs the country has produced. Internationally, he is described as a DJ from South African because of his works with popular music artist Master KG.

Meanwhile, the music festival will feature South African artists, Makhazi, Master KG, Prince Benza and Mthunzi. They will also be joined by some of the big local artists, Franco, Vee Mampeezy, among others.  “The tickets of the concert will be available at Spar stores, webticket and Kings bar. There will be three categories for VIP tickets, the one that goes for P1000, P1500 and P2200,” said the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest promoter Sadie Swartz of Saysay Entertainment.

“We have a new system to tackle the cry of promoters about security at the events. We will have a team of 100 security men, 10 horses and 15 dogs. We also agreed with the police to help with traffic control and no tickets will be sold at the gate to avoid circulation of money which can attract thieves,” said Kagiso Gaodumelwe from All Night Security.

“I started deejaying back in the days when I was still schooling at Kagiso Senior School and I never stopped working towards my career since then. I have a career in South Africa, since 2018 when Master KG took me in and his support as a brother has taken me to places,” said DJ Ngwazi describing his career journey.

“Kumnandi Ekhaya is Zulu language which means ‘go monate ko gae’ in Setswana. The name came about as a way of inviting my South African fans and supporters to my home village Thamaga to come experience the joy that comes with celebrating our freedom and independence. I used isiZulu because it’s the dominant language in South Africa,” explained Dj Ngwazi.

“The concert will be held in an open space which was used for agricultural purposes and we would like to call it ‘Ko Legoleng’. With this concert I want to redeem the dignity of our village because we once had the cases of youth who were terrorizing the community, beating up people in the streets and stealing and these was really a concern in our community because they were tarnishing the village name,” said Dj Ngwazi.

The purpose of this concert is to empower the community of Thamaga and local artist, more especially artist from Thamaga village like, Kgabo Sereto traditional group. There will be a litter picking campaign around the village before the launch of the concert .The sponsors which are already on board are Dladleng Entertainment and Kings bar and there are still more sponsors to be revealed.

”As the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest management, we are going to buy food combos and take them to Thamaga village Kgotla so they can be donated to the less privileged and orphans. Starting from October we will be donating pads to all Junior Schools in Thamaga,” said Dj Ngwazi. Dj Ngwazi’s motivational words to other artist and everyone else; work hard, be patient and be determined.

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