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Afro craze in Botswana


Africa’s hair wars are far from over. A whole new generation of women is abandoning hair relaxers and straighteners for a natural kinky look. The Afro is definitely the style du jour, albeit with a twist.


Not only are women now only interested in growing their hair naturally, they are also learning about their African hair-a long overdue task, perhaps neglected for generations. Furthermore, they are going all out to embrace the curl in their kinks, finding ways to enhance them through styling and even shunning the comb. Twists, Bantu knots, crocheting are some of the ways Batswana women are using to define their kink.


Just in June this year, a “Hair Meet” was staged in Gaborone, and organizer, Kefilwe Loewen says about 100 people attended. According to Loewen, the turn up was very good. “Considering it was the first of its kind, and no one really knew what to expect I think it was really good.”


The show featured advices from key people from the hair and beauty industry, notably a trained hairdresser who presented on styling tips and products that are friendly for natural hair.


She revealed the presentations were mainly on, “Basics of hair – structure, and general makeup. This was important because most people only know relaxed hair, and once they move to natural hair they have no idea what to do because it is totally different in care and handling.”


“We also spoke about natural hair terms to know, blow drying techniques if one does blow-dry
and did Demos of how to do styles eg bantu knots, flat twists etc,” Loewen shared.


Loewen herself waves the banner for natural hair. She started a blog where she shared her natural hair journey and other tips on grooming natural hair. Furthermore, she started a Facebook page which so far has 2477 members. She went all natural in 2013. She has been experimenting with natural hair styles and twists and concedes she will never go back to relaxers.


African women have over time been under heavy scrutiny for their choice of hairstyles. African women who opt for relaxers, weaves or braids have been called un-African, women who wear dreadlocks or their natural hair have been praised for being connected to their African roots. However, opting for the natural look comes with its troubles.


African hair is versatile. A lot of African women’s texture is kinkier and consequently stubborn. In Botswana it’s popular for African hair to be referred to as “dikgobe”or “sekgwa”. Sekgwa means bush, ‘which derives from the bushy texture, dikgobe is a Setswana dish comprising beans and samp, or maize.


According to Loewen, a lot of women want to know how to make their natural hair softer and manageable or longer without using relaxers. “The main question I normally get is ‘How can I make my hair soft and manageable?” Of course there is no short and simple answer to this one because natural hair is so diverse,” Loewen said.

“Then follows, ‘How can I grow my hair fast?” And again, no fast answer, but what I do know is that natural hair grows amazingly beautiful, and it can become very long with proper care. From personal experience I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep my hair moisturized, which is a challenge for high porosity hair, and our dry climate doesn’t help. This is very important because dry hair breaks, and dry hair hurts, and dry hair doesn’t grow.”

The ubiquitous 70s trend has gained momentum in the last five years in the United States, although it has been present from way back as the 1960s. It has also gained track across the world, with natural hair advocates going all out to share information, tips and videos on social media with the rest of the world.


This however does not mean it’s all a smooth path for women returning to the natural hair look. Natural hair, locks included has overtime been considered unprofessional and unkept. A lot of women have opted for weaves or wigs to attain a more professional look, or to don a more acceptable look.

“Because of the general perception that natural hair is not beautiful, most people seeking to go the natural route don’t get cheerleaders, which is a very important aspect in this journey. Most people will tell me that they used to be natural, and then they reverted to relaxing,” Loewen said, adding that the natural hair group on Facebook, NHBots has been a support platform for women ready to give up on their natural hair.

“Some days you wake up and your hair is just not cooperating, so having other people telling you that hey, tomorrow will be better keeps one going for sure,” she said.


The greater challenge, according to many women who are not using chemicals for their hair is the lack of specialised hair dressers. Loewen further asserts that the access to products that are natural-hair friendly is very limited.


Keitiretse Bagele Bapindi has had her fair share of the hair game. She has relaxed her hair, locked it and now, though by coincidence bears the afro.  Her journey with growing the natural afro began in 2009 when she cut her hair to re-grow her locks. But she instantly fell in love with her new growth and forgot all about the dreadlocks and decided to let it grow naturally. But that her hair texture is naturally soft is a plus for her.  “I don’t do much to it, I use moisturiser and gel activator sometimes, shampoo and spray,” Bapindi said.


According to her, the afro style is very affordable because on some days she can do a wash and go, or cover it up with a scarf.


Two weeks ago, members of the NHBots group spurred on the craze with the hashtag, sekamoforwhat, for the Friday-Fro selfies. Every Friday, members post a selfie to the group wall, on this particular friday, members were encouraged to spare the comb for the day and share selfies to the group, showing off their curls.


Locally, some famous faces with the afro as their hairstyle of choice include poet and public speaker, TJ Dema, Ko Pisa hitmaker Gaone Rantlhoiwa and athlete, Amantle Montsho. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has also for the better part of her career as cabinet minister also showed off a bulky afro, including former Speaker of Parliament Margaret Nasha.

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WeekendLife

5 consideration for your Marketing strategy in 2022

12th January 2022

‘The world of marketing is getting confusing,’ this is the sentiment from many marketers who find themselves in the middle of rising digitization and online migration driven by increased connectivity and a pandemic that dictated reduced physical interactions.

According to the Harvard Business Review, customers’ increased discernment, demand for great service experience and the ability to raise ‘a storm’ of complaints online about brands, is reshaping the role of marketing.

In today’s world of brand management, the constant consideration should be agility. This means actually listening to customer sentiment, being flexible with your creative design, messaging, placements and budgets.

Here are a few more pointers to discuss in your 2022 marketing strategy sessions.

  1. Budgeting needs to change: Event based budgeting, allocations based on calendar activities rather strategic impact initiatives, is a thing of the past. If the pandemic taught us anything is that uncertainty for people gatherings is something we need to live with. Furthermore, a lot of this type of marketing is barely linked to specific value beyond brand awareness. It’s time to disrupt yourselves by really evaluating value. In a digitizing world, a marketing budget should be reflective of the overall business direction.
  2. Outdoor is not dead, it just needs creativity: As the world was locked downed due to covid-19, one key consequence was that we were forced to spend more time in doors. As such, many of the billboards had no eyes on them. However, as things

open up, it’s time for brands to challenge billboard companies to create experiential advertising. Like ‘the floating cat’ in Tokyo, a 3-D anamorphic outdoor ad, billboards can be engaging and exciting for those who cross paths with them. Outdoor advertising needs to be reimagined to drive brand ‘stickiness’ in a bold manner.

  1. Thought leadership needs to be genuine: The pressure for relevancy has driven many executives into taking up video and word based content to be seen as authorities and subject matter experts. Begs the question, is it genuine? Does the person you are putting in front of the camera genuinely care to be a source of knowledge and consistently share insights. Thought leaders have an intrinsic drive to share information. It is not just based on one’s position in an organisation. So for 2022, look deeply within for talent that have authentic perspectives they can contribute to public discourse for the benefit of your brand.
  2. Influencers, do you really need them?: This is a question many brand managers have to scratch their heads over every time they go-to-market. In an effort to be seen as a cool and relevant, many brands, large and small have jumped on the influencer bandwagon to drive awareness. The world over influencers have presented brands with a new platform for awareness by using their personalities to market to their followers. Think Kim Kardashian, Mihlali Ndamase, Mjamica, they all have legion of followers who engage with their content on their social media pages. As a brand manager, your job is to be discerning and ensure brand fit. In doing research, look beyond the numbers: audit their historic content type, look into the engagements, do their followers actually engage based on the content subject? Is their tone of engagement relevant to your brand? That is what will answer the question… does your brand need them.
  3. It’s time to take the ROI conversation seriously: This is more of a self-preservation tip. Measuring marketing activity and impact has for many brands been a half-baked approach. For greater impact in 2022, marketing teams need to introspect and fully embrace the technologies. Digital and social media platforms have presented us an opportunity to actually measure our efforts. So insights, listening and automation tools need to be added to your technology stack for you to better reports on your impact.  Get closer to sales and service teams, as your efforts often have a direct bearing on their output.

Lastly, remember that visibility needs to lead to action for your marketing to become a value centre.

 

Modiri Mogende is a Managing Director at Launch Comms, with over 10 years’ experience in media, PR and marketing, he holds a BA and a PgD in Digital Marketing.   

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WeekendLife

Coal still King

15th December 2021
Coal still King

More than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal in pledges made at the COP26 climate summit. Botswana on the other hand has different plans.

Some 850 Kilometres South West of the capital city Gaborone, lies a winding sandy landscape with wind worn- formations on the horizon accompanied by the harsh sun. The Kalahari Desert is conspicuous in the area.  Here one finds BORAVAST a cluster of villages; Bokspits, Rappelspan, Vaalhoek and Struizendum.

Although the desert is expected to be barren and brown, green blobs occupy the landscape. These are Mesquite a Prosopis species locally referred to as Sexanana. An invasive tree species that has successfully colonised the area all thanks to its properties that enable it to release a toxin to suppress growth of nearby competing plants.

This has resulted in the replacement of most of the indigenous vegetation in the area, forming dense thorn bushes. Circumstantial evidence suggests that it may also be lowering important fresh-water aquifers and clogging boreholes with its extensive root system. This has seriously led to degraded rangelands and reduced biodiversity.

BORAVAST has found a loophole by clearing the species. The clearance is to generate income for the community whilst also ensuring rehabilitation of the landscape to increase continued flow of ecosystem goods and services, simultaneously promoting of livelihoods.

The BORAVAST community is on a mission to create a backbone for the national economy through the community project as they believe that they have the potential to scale up and produce opportunities for local businesses to participate in the value chain of the national economy.

According to BORAVAST Trust Vice Chairman Gideon Martin: “The project has been dormant since 2015, however during the 2019/20 financial year, the Trust resuscitated the projects operations under the sponsorship of the UNDP (Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Drylands Ecosystem Project).

Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has also jumped into the band wagon by presenting machinery, office equipment and branding assets worth more than 1 million pula to the BORAVAST Trust. The Department of Forestry has also chipped in with P464 000.To date there are only two operational value chain business being charcoal and fodder production in BORAVAST. Our charcoal product has been tested and competes with coal from Morupule, our fodder is also of high nutritional quality.”

A member of the trust describes the charcoal making process: “Charcoal is made by heating wood from Sexanana to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. This is done with ancient technology of building a fire in a pit, then bury it in the ground. The result is that the wood partially combusts, removing water and impurities and leaving behind mostly pure carbon.

The tricky part is to maintain the heat at a temperature that is appropriate to avoid the wood turning into ash. It is a tedious and risky process as we also have to be on the look out to contain the fire to avoid wild fires. We sit by the pots hours on end to ensure all goes well on the other hand, Charcoal burning produces large amounts of Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is harmful to us when exposed to very high levels.”

In his blog Kobus Venter an activist states that, “these are signs that governments are trying to regulate the industry by introducing more efficient charcoal-making kilns and establishing plantations to ensure sustainability of the timber source. In Namibia, millions of hectares of encroachment bush is being converted to charcoal and sold to neighbouring South Africa as barbecue charcoal.

South Africa itself (according to the most recent South Africa Yearbook) is plagued with alien plant infestations, totalling more than 10 million hectares, about eight percent (8%) of the country’s land surface area. The rate of spread is alarming and their numbers are projected to double over the next 15 years.  More recently Vuthisa Technologies started to convert slashed invasives into charcoal and biochar using Emission Reducing Biochar kilns in a project known as the Vuthisa Biochar Initiative.”

However, charcoal is the primary energy source for urban Africa, but its production is widely informal and unregulated. Consequently, charcoal is entwined with violence against nature through rampant deforestation and violence against vulnerable rural communities, fuelling violent political economies of conflict and extraction.

As they are violently dispossessed of forests and land, communities living in production areas face destruction of their cultural heritage, embodied in nature, and the conditions for economic and political dignity. This undermines possibilities for sustainable peace.

Natural Resource Management in the Kgalagadi landscape is characterized by competition and conflict between conservation goals, economic development and the preservation of livelihoods.

Economic development inevitably leads to trade-offs between land uses, and requires choices to be made between the conversion of forests into anthropogenic land uses such as agriculture, on the one hand, and maintaining natural forests with their inherent ecosystem services.

Botswana to realize its national priorities in environmental management focusing on managing the trade-off between income generation and environmental sustainability. The trade-offs between development and environmental sustainability are becoming more evident in the form of threats to fauna and flora, air pollution and water pollution. Ensuring that sustainable resource extraction levels are within the capacity of the environment to assimilate and regenerate is a key concern.

Global Energy Monitor (GEM) that develops and shares information on energy projects in support of the worldwide movement for clean energy. Has revealed in their 2021 report titled “Deep Trouble; Tracking Global Coal Mine Proposals” that Botswana has 6 Coal Mine Development Projects.

It continues; “The Special Report on 1.5°C by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that CO2 emissions from coal use needs to fall 50 to 80% by 2030 to keep warming well below 2°C. If proposed new mines open as intended, the CO2 emissions from combustion will be equivalent to 4,639 Mt a year, a 14% increase over global CO2 emissions in 2020 (34,100 Mt), barring declines elsewhere.

In addition, the mines will leak an estimated 13.5 Mt of methane each year from broken coal seams and surrounding rock strata, based on coal mine depth and the gas content of the coal seam. Combined, the annual greenhouse gas emissions from proposed coal mines will be between 5,000 and 5,800 Mt of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) each year (for CO2e100 and CO2e20, respectively), comparable to the annual CO2 emissions of the United States (5,100 Mt). The build out of new mines, therefore, raises serious concerns about meeting the Paris climate agreement.”

Science continues to confirm the urgency of climate crisis. The main issue now is that the  ‘super powers’ are now realising their contribution to climate change and are devising means to halt the repercussions. Now enters the matter of climate justice; those who are least responsible for climate change suffer the ,most, Botswana has not fully utilised her coal reserves and coal production from wood yet the world is about to phase them out. What about the BORAVAST Trust trying to make a living?  The question of the day would be whether an energy transition will be possible in the near future considering that Botswana uses her physical wealth ( coal ) to grow her economy?

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WeekendLife

The King’s journal 

23rd November 2021
Kgafela Kgafela II

This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.

The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.

The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.

The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.   

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