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 15，ranking 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.
This past weekend MultiChoice Botswana hosted media and lifestyle enthusiasts in Oodi for an evening of fun, drama and everything in between. The treat dubbed Big Brother Titans Botswana media challenge basically recreated the Big Brother experience right here in Botswana.
Big Brother Titans is the joint South African and Nigerian edition of the Big Brother franchise. The series follows contestants as they live in an isolated house and compete for a cash prize at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted from the house by the viewers.
These viewers vote their favorite housemates to stay on the show. The show features housemates from South Africa and Nigeria. The first season of the show premiered on January 15 2023 on DStv.
DStv Botswana Corporate Affairs Manager, Thembile Legwaila told WeekendLife that they saw it critical to host media friends to experience how it feels by being in the Big Brother house.
“For the very first time in history of Big Brother, we’ve seen the merging of two superpowers, Mzansi and Naija, with the Big Brother Titans season and what a better way to celebrate the monumental season than hosting our media friends.”
Participants were treated to top notch reception complimented by the Oodi sunset which just blew them away. A special shuttle was organized from Gaborone to Oodi, at a farm house that is just incredible in terms of design, aesthetics and ambience.
Of course they were welcomed by soft cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages for those who are not drinkers, and the next booth was an opportunity for housemates to introduce themselves to the man of the house, Biggie. RB2’s new baby Mdu the Party played the role of Biggie, and he nailed the character.
Some of the contestants were asked what they will do with the grand prize of P5000. With my ongoing voluntary movement, #Pad4HER, I needed the cash prize to push the campaign. #Pad4HER is a campaign that I started last year with an aim of helping female students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have access to sanitary towels. Anyway, luck was not on my side but my colleague from The Botswana Gazette, Gosego Motsumi emerged as the winner.
We got done with the questions and made way into the house. The party began with more drinks and the first challenge kicked off. For this particular challenge, we were divided into pairs. I was matched with Motsumi and we won the first challenge.
Other housemates asked how we managed but it was simple: we had a strategy before embarking on the challenge. We sat down and debated on what we need to do in order to emerge victorious.
DStv engaged a phenomenal local chef, Rachel Tlagae who served some enchanting, light meal. Its Big Brother Titans so we ought to mind what we eat and also take note of quantities. Chefs also brought some wine to go with the meal and everyone was contented.
THE WINNING CHALLENGE
Housemates were taken through the last challenge: mental ability. This particular challenge needed them to know who they are as well as knowing their fellow housemates. It was one of the simplest challenges yet difficult. This is where I lost lot of points even though I was at the top (after winning the first challenge).
These housemates were all unique in their own way. From the media side was myself, Sharon Mathala, Leungo Mokgwathi, Gosego Motsumi and Nancy Ramokhua. This is a team which did exceptionally well altogether. Motsumi emerged as the winner, followed by Mathala and me on fourth position.
The third position was won by Loungo Pitse from influencer’s side, and he tagged alongside DJ Gouveia, Dato Seiko, Kedi Molosiwa and Gape Makwati.
Legwaila said “We wanted to have a healthy mix of traditional media (print and radio) as well as social media personalities, artists and content creators in the house. We chose individuals who were characteristically different from each other because variety and diversity is important to us. We of course chose those with outgoing personalities as well as those who are a little more introverted as we wanted the interaction to be authentic and organic. We wanted a solid group of individuals who represented the many different people that make up this beautiful country.”
DSTV IS COOKING SOMETHING
When quizzed if there are plans to have a similar Big Brother Titans Botswana, Legwaila said “MultiChoice Africa is focused on entertaining audiences all over Africa with the current Big Brother franchises; BB Titans, Mzansi and Naija. Though we have no immediate plans to have a Big Brother Botswana in the future, we are continuously looking at ways to entertain our Botswana audience with local content and we are excited for what’s to come in the next few weeks from our country.”
The 71st Miss Universe competition will be going down at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in New Orleans next week in the United States. There are eighty four entrants at this year’s Miss Universe, and Botswana will once again not be a part of the pageant.
The Miss Universe will be hosted by Jeannie Mai and Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, who last served as host during Miss Universe 2020, while Mai last served as backstage correspondent during Miss Universe 2014. Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and Zuri Hall will serve as backstage correspondents. This will mark the first time in a 70-year history to have an all-female presenting panel.
Botswana last participated at the Miss Universe in 2013, in which the Miss Universe Botswana pageant was won by Tsoane Macheng. Ever since then, Botswana never made its return to the biggest beauty pageant in the world, despite its consistent ability to send a representative to participate at the Miss World competition.
Miss Universe Botswana Director, Safie Sekgwa, allegedly holds the Miss Universe license. Efforts to reach him proved futile, as his mobile phone rung unanswered.
Despite Botswana showing zero efforts in participating at the Miss Universe, the beauty pageants 2019 crown was flanked by two smaller diamonds cut from the same stoned mined in Botswana.
Jewelry designer Mouawad created a new “Power of Unity” crown reportedly worth 5 Million US Dollars, and the title was won by South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi. She was the third South African to be crowned Miss Universe.
BOTSWANA’S POOR RECORD AT MISS UNIVERSE
Botswana is said to be one African country with the most beautiful women, but, the poor performance at the Miss Universe, communicates otherwise. Perhaps, representatives at the pageant are not academically gifted, as the Miss Universe tests how keen they are also.
Mpule Kwelagobe made history when she was crowned Miss Universe 1999. That was few months after she was crowed the first ever Miss Universe Botswana. Kwelagobe became the third woman from Africa who was crowned Miss Universe.
In 2000, Miss Universe Botswana then, Joyce Molemoeng did not place at Miss Universe, and the same blue reality struck again in 2001, when Mataila Sikwane also failed drastically.
After a two year hiatus, Miss Universe 2004, Icho Keolotswe also failed to place at Miss Universe. That was the end of participation at Miss Universe, only to return in 2010. Tirelo Ramasedi, Miss Universe 2010 also did not win. The same losing trend followed from 2011 (Larona Kgabo), 2012 (Sheillah Molelekwa) and 2013 (Tsaone Macheng).
MISS UNIVERSE 2022 UNDERWAY
Preparations are ongoing to hold the 71st Miss Universe competition. Harnaaz Sandhu of India will crown her successor at the end of the event. There are nine countries which have withdrawn from participating: Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Morocco, Romania and Sweden.
As for returns, Miss Universe 2022 will see Angola, Belize, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Uruguay.
Lebanon won Miss Universe in 1971, Angola in 2011, Trinidad and Tobago in 1977 and1998. Youngest Miss Universe 2022 participants are aged 18, and they are from British Virgin Islands, Iceland and Krgyzstan and Switzerland’s representative is nineteen.
MISS UNIVERSE ALMOST 6 MILLION US DOLLAR CROWN
Miss Universe has unveiled its new crown for the 71st competition. The new crown, “The Crown Number 12: Force for Good” was crafted by world renowned luxury jeweler Mouawad.
The new crown, with pear-shaped blue sapphires surrounded by diamonds and valued at approximately 5.58 Million US Dollars, will be the prestigious mark of honor for the winner this coming week.
According to the Miss Universe organization, the Force for Good crown emanates Mouawad’s passion for crafting the extraordinary, featuring the meticulous setting of sapphires and diamonds, whose design is replete with symbolism.
Reflecting the point that significant change does not happen in an instant, the base of the crown is set with diamonds symbolizing the status quo. From the base upwards, rippling wave motifs reflect the momentum of change, with their varying sizes portraying that this momentum gains ground gradually through advocacy at different moments and places, to audiences large and small, over time.