Botswana’s only contestant in the annual Chinese Bridge Competition Mogolo Ramalebang has won a scholarship to study in China after advancing to the final of the highly contested championships currently taking place in China.
Ramalebang, a final year undergraduate Chinese Language and Culture student at the University of Botswana advanced to the fourth round of the 2015 competition last week and into the semifinal (Top 30) after outsmarting more than 200 international competitors aiming for glory in Chinese proficiency and mastery.
Earlier this week, she pulled another surprise by successfully qualifying for top 10 out of 15ï¼Œranking top 2 among all African contestants. As of the 27th July 2015, she was ranked in the top 8 making her the top African contender, the only African challenger being a Cameroonian national.
The competition has reached its final stages and Ramalebang confirmed that she has already won a scholarship for her outstanding performance, “I’m at position 1 in Africa, currently competing with the guy from Cameroon for title of African Champion, because of that performance I have won a two year full scholarship, which includes, medical insurance, allowance and accommodation. I will study at one of China’s top universities.
The final show will be on this Sunday 2nd August 2015. It is during that show that I will get my price” she said. The show will broadcast live on television and streamed on the internet.
She said all the continental champions are scheduled to compete in the grand finals to be held tomorrow, “now all the continental champions are going for the grand finale, to compete for the world champion title. I hope I make it as only one person represents each one of the world’s six continents” she said. She said all the finalist will get different scholarship packages, based on their performance.
“I will also get a return plane ticket, as well. Since I will take part in the grand finale show, I will only go home when everything is over. Which means I still have to keep the long hours just like before, we shoot videos until 3am and we are up at 8am for other assignments” she explained.
The Annual Chinese Bridge (Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students) is a contest for international tertiary institutions students on their mastery of the Chinese language. The event was established as a way to introduce Chinese to the world. Since it began in 2002, more than 6000 contestants from over 50 countries throughout the world have participated in the event.
The event is being broadcast life to millions of Chinese viewers on Hunan Television, a provincial satellite TV station which is currently China's second-most-watched channel, second only to CCTV-1 and in close competition with BTV (Beijing Television). Hunan TV's signal covers most of China, including Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other regions overseas.
Ramalebang, who goes by the Chinese name Zhanghua said the competition is not only about learning Chinese “it is not really about Chinese learning alone, it is more about making the show look more appealing for the viewers, that is why we still have all these other activities. Today we received voice training and had to record voiceovers for some cartoon, and record a Chinese song, all these things will be part of the grand finale on Sunday” she clarified.
Speaking at the event in China, Ramalebang said “My Chinese friend's mother gave me my Chinese name. Her surname is (zhang) so she wanted me to have the same surname as her because her child had to adopt the father's surname. In Chinese culture a woman does not change her surname when she gets married. So she is the only one in her nuclear family with a different surname, she gave me this name so that she isn’t alone. She considers me as one of her children”.
She also said contestants are judged on the number of votes accrued on the online voting system, as well as Chinese language speaking abilities, knowledge of Chinese Culture, and Chinese cultural skills. To compete internationally she had to win the preliminary competition which was held this April at the University of Botswana by preparing and reciting a speech in Mandarin as well writing a mandarin test and listening comprehension.
Ramalebang started studying Chinese at the University of Botswana in August 2011. In September 2011 she also enrolled at Confucius institute at the University of Botswana (CIUB).
“This way I studied Chinese during the day in UB and in the evening in CIUB. I studied for two semesters in CIUB and got a one year scholarship to study in Shanghai Normal in Shanghai. So I studied here during the 2012/2013 academic year. In the 2013/2014 academic year, I went for another year with my classmates, for our compulsory 3rd year in China, also in Shanghai Normal University. Last year August, I returned to UB for my final year, which I completed in May 2015, graduating this October” she said.
She said Learning Chinese has not been a walk in the park “for me, my saving grace is that I love it, which makes it easier for me to soldier on when things get tough! My Chinese teacher, Mr Du, once said, interest is the best teacher. I believe he was right, because it is my interest in learning Chinese that got me this far. If I had no interest, I would not have put on the extra hours” she advised.
She called on our government to avail opportunities for Chinese language speaking nationals “As of the benefits of learning Chinese, I actually have to say the truth, there are not as many as I had imagined, not in Botswana anyway. The government needs a lot of Chinese proficient people, but it is a pity there are not so many jobs for fresh graduates. Not as many choices as I had imagined.
I made it to top 10 out of so many people, from all over the world. I’m quite content with the position I got. I am actually surprised I got this far because!! I honestly don’t think my Chinese is that good! I think coming this far was a combination of many factors, God, luck, hard work and perseverance” she enthused.
In its 14th year, the 2015 Chinese Bridge Competition has attracted more than 700 university students from across the world. The annual contest has provided a platform for foreighn students to showcase their command of Chinese languages, exchange of Chinese culture and experiences.
The 27 years old Ramalebang, the first Motswana to take part in the competitions said that besides the competition, all the international participants were treated to a lavish opening ceremony as well as a once in a life time opportunity to climb and explore the Great Wall of China in Beijing. International contestants also had the chance to visit the Imperial Palace and Summer Palace as part of their social activities to help them unwind from the intensive competition.
The finals of the competition to be held in Beijing tomorrow consists of separate and independent contests: "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students; and Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Students in China. Winners of the competition are usually awarded a prestigious scholarship. It is however rare for a non-Asia competitor to win the competition since its inception.
After announcing the postponement in March, the 6th edition of Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAS) have bounced back and will be held virtually via Now Channel on DSTV Channel 290 and on the Yarona FM Facebook page on September 26 at 20h00.
This is one of the first virtual music awards to be held in Botswana.The 2020 edition of the YAMAS was originally slated to be held at the University of Botswana (UB) Campus Indoor Sport Centre early this year, but plans for an indoor ceremony were thrown for a loop by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There will be no public attendance at this year’s event, it will be produced for broadcast on TV and digital platforms. The event will take place in an extended reality studio which will comprise of the hosts only. The show must go on and we still have to award artist for their splendid job” said Yarona FM Station Manager Kelly Ramputswa.
Furthermore, Ramputswa stated that nothing much has changed apart from the awards ceremony going virtual, the voting lines for nominees remain the same. The voting lines opened on Tuesday 8th September and will close on 23rd September at midnight.Yarona FM has partnered with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC) and First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) who contributed money to ensure that winners go home with cash prizes ranging from P10 000 and P15 000.
“We recognize the hardship that has befallen the creative industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Botswana’s creative sector remains resilient and Yarona FM, as a crucial player remains committed to contributing meaningfully to develop the sector.
The partnership to bring the YAMAS at this time, with cash winnings for musicians and other creatives involved in the show is demonstration that we are all in this together,” said the Yarona FM Station Manager.The effort of gifting artists with money is a big boost since most of them did not manage to source income from live performances due to COVID- 19 protocols that led to suspension of many events.
The 6th edition of the YAMAS will be hosted by Yarona FM presenters Loungo Andre Pitse and Kedi Molosiwa. There will be performances from artists such as ATI, Mophato Dance Theater, Girly and FME DJs.
The entertainment industry remains the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and some creatives cannot take the strain anymore.
Other sectors seem to be gradually re-opening and learning to live with the pandemic, the creative industry on the other hand is still closed with no hope for it opening any time soon. Government has seemingly turned a blind eye to the drowning industry.
Meanwhile other countries are coming up with strategic plans on how best their entertainment industries can be re-opened and how people can live with the pandemic without putting each other at risk. Promoters Association gathered to air out their concerns and lament on how much the government has side-lined them.
Government is still delaying to pay subsidies to the creatives. The Ministry of Youth currently claims to have paid a total sum of P19 404 180 to 340 youth businesses and 9090 creatives. The ministry further stated that they have 15 640 who were assessed and vetted and 12 391 were approved.
A further P 4 054 820 is yet to be paid during the ongoing payment process. However, the Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), are demanding that the ministry provides them proof of payment for those who were credited, instead of releasing statistics.
“We have contributed to the best of our ability even though other promoters were not paid. As for now that P7500 is not as important because people have life problems and commitments and they got tired of waiting for the money. We tried were we could as BEPA with MYSC,” said Gilbert Seagile, President of BEPA.
Some promoters however found themselves drowning during the pandemic with no life raft as life issues pile up without any source of income. “We had cases of depression. They came to our offices. We had cases were other promoters almost committed suicide due to lack of income,’’ said Seagile.
Promoters Association wishes to work on their own without relying on the government. They had however crafted a project dubbed ‘Project Tselapedi’, wherein they seek P20 million to fund annual events. The funds are to be disbursed pending on how much each project is worth. This in an effort to help the ministry and to relief problems.
“We believe the project can be financed because even today we do not know when the sector will be opened. We have solutions but we are never called when decisions are made. We are three months away from December without hosting any event. They keep postponing meetings every week. Our industry is dying and it is dying in their hands,” said Promoter Exotic. “All sectors were met, the transport sector has been fully opened yet they are not adhering to Covid-19 protocols.
Which means we can also host events whilst adhering to covid-19 protocols. The creative industry contribute highly to the GDP. We are not happy and we are going to do everything. We are being colonized by the liquor Act. These two are different. This issue puts us at a disadvantage. The liquor Act has nothing to do with us,” said Seagile.
Former President of BEPA, Zenzel Hirschfield, has sternly lashed out at the government for side-lining promoters and denying them the one thing that buttered their bread.“We are tired of going to the offices without anything coming forth. We also have the expertise to sit down and advice. The reason why they are doing what they are doing is because they are feeling the heat like us. We are not going to remain silent.
We will not listen and sit down. We will continue to speak. And we need to speak to the relevant people which is our President. We are dying of hunger. We don’t trade with alcohol we trade with the arts,” she lamented.
POLYGAMIST: South African businessman Musa Mseleku and his four wives.
No one can be blamed for thinking that women have been failed in this country. The 2020 World Population Reviews has placed Botswana as the second out of 10 countries after neighbouring South Africa with the highest rape cases in the world.
According to World Population Review, Botswana has 92.9 percent incidents per 100,000 people. The statistics are spine chilling and would prompt any country to act fast and put measures in place to reduce the numbers and keep save the most vulnerable; women and children.
In view of this ignominy, policy-makers would respond by putting in necessary legislations to address the crisis. However, it turns out such a belief is only presumptions. Even female MPs have not proved indifferent to the pleas of those who are at the receiving end, a disappointing gesture on their part.
Recently, Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East, Yandani Boko tabled a motion in parliament on urgent basis in which he requested President Mokgweetsi Masisi to set-up a Commission of Inquiry on GBV and other sexual offenses.The motion was infamously opposed by Anna Mokgethi, the minister responsible for gender affairs, disputing its urgency.
Incidentally, not long ago, Mokgethi went on record and sought help from President Masisi, seeking protection from her husband, citing that she fears for her life.Despite refusing to support the motion when it was tabled later, Mokgethi has been taking part in campaigns against GBV on social media.
If that was not enough, this week another female MP took it to another level. Beauty Manake, a Specially Elected MP is of the firm belief that polygamy can be a solution to GBV. It begs the question; how does having many wives solve GBV? If anything it may very well lead to a spike in the number of cases.
These remarks have left many women very much disenchanted on the idea, arguing that they are misrepresented and disappointed that the remarks were made by another woman.WeekendLife has taken it to the relevant people to find whether polygamy is really what we need to curb Gender Based Violence.
“Such a law disadvantages women as they are seldom involved in the decision to invite another women into their marriage. It is of course, highly discriminatory and should not be entertained. It will not work especially given the many social ills that lead to Gender Based Violence. Many domestic disputes are centered around adultery.
Legalising polygamy would lead to a conflict in homes and of laws in which an aggrieved spouse can sue for adultery, but the law in question would allow men to court other women during marriage,” Precious Gondwe, President of Pan African Game Changers and the founding Partner of Precious & Partner Law Firm.
“How will the rights of the first wife be protected? People are already killing each other as they cannot handle sharing their spouse. Couples fight about the presence of a third party in their marriage. Therefore officialising something that is not right, won’t make it morally right. It will only continue to repress women further and breakdown the family.
Once the family is broken then the very essence of society will be broken.””Legalising such a social ill would not make it morally correct. What does that mean to us as Batswana with the high rate of HIV and other social ills? This does not cure any of the social ills related to GBV. It is retrogressive in nature would be a proponent of GBV.
Surely in 2020 that is unacceptable. You cannot solve this by bringing in another predicament. As a woman and a Batswana, I am deeply concerned as to why that issue should be raised. We are adding more injury to the wound. I vehemently disagree with what the minister raised. We can’t legalize a problem!”
Polygamy in an era faced with Covid-19 and the repercussions of it is tantamount to economic suicide. Women no longer submit to men as easily, they understand the importance of independence and building legacies and protecting their wellbeing and that of their children. They understand that their lives are not centred around a man.
Social Activist Gaontebale Omphemetse Mmolai strongly believes polygamy will only regress women.“I am against polygamy because looking at the things we normally complain about, be it finances, children’s welfare, family relations and all, I believe that if we legalise polygamy in Botswana it will be a way of advocating for an increase in women’s problems.
Men will be given more power to oppress and abuse women in all different ways,” she said.“So imagine if you are stuck in that kind of a relationship or a marriage. Then both of you are being abused and the situation is worsened. So legalizing polygamy is a way of making an excuse for men. It will never be an alternative to solve GBV issues in our country. I am against the idea.”
The church however believes that in as much as there was polygamy in the Bible, God was clear that a man shall leave his family to be joined to his wife and not wives. They are of the belief that, there is no room for polygamy in the body of Christ and hence people should be inspired by the truth of God regarding marriage.
“The fact that there was polygamy in the bible does not mean that God approved of the practice. When we come under the new dispensation, we are under the New Testament. In 1Timothy 3 v 2 & 12, Titus 1 v 16, which explains that good leadership comes with a man having only one wife. In this portion of scripture, it was referred to church leaders and pastors,” Boago Ramogapi, Royal Assembly Ministries Pastor highlighted to WeekendLife.
“The reason why it was so, it was because they were the example of the Godly life. So that what we see in them becomes an example of what we are supposed to have in our personal lives. A man with one wife meant the congregation of the society must also follow an example of being joined to one wife. We are of the belief that one man one wife.”
As GBV persists, he has admitted that it has even entered church doors and that they are affected as much. Many people within church indoors are victims of rape and violence. “When it comes to GBV and polygamy being used to curb GBV I don’t think it will work. We just need behavioural change. The stance is that we need to permeate all the spheres so that men can rise to the occasion. And much more importantly I wish to see more men standing against it,” he said.
“We need to rise up to the occasion because GBV have also permeated church walls, because church members are sometimes abused sexually in the church. We need to reach out to men, we have done well with the girl child. It is now time to empower the boy child.”