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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way the world moves, actually, it has it at a standstill.
The impacts of this deadly virus are massive, and the only way to curb it from spreading is through social distancing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The pandemic had gym rooms closed to avoid crowding by fitness enthusiasts. However, some have come up with alternative ways of keeping fitness rolling even in the midst of this plague.
Prominent fitness trainer and certified sports psychologist, Chyna Mokaila couldn’t be at a standstill from working out with clients, even in the middle of a deadly virus. He has since started an online training program dubbed CMFit Virtual fitness.
The program begun during the first lockdown implemented in March 2020, but because there was no revenue coming in, the young lad had to go back to the drawing board and come up with something tangible to earn him monies.
He told Weekendlife in an exclusive interview this week that; “I had to make a sustainable solid plan that would see me doing what I do best and continue my work with or without lockdown and COVID-19. This made me tap into other markets and countries throughout the world. Currently, I have clients as far as the US, Canada, Austria, Italy, and neighbouring South Africa and Zambia.”
Chyna says the online fitness training has proven to be less risky in exposing oneself to the virus, as they get to training at the comfort of their homes with less contact.
“COVID-19 has brought a lot of sadness, depression and unhealthy habits because of being restricted to lockdowns. It goes without saying that staying fit helps individuals with depression and offers a feel good atmosphere.
Health should be our number one priority at this current moment, and the only way it can be done is virtually. People have learnt to embrace technology so we might as well divert our services to such platforms.”
Virtual fitness is cost effective, according to Chyna. “Although you get the same feel and package which comprises of consultation, nutritional guidelines, assessments and the actual training program the only difference is that the trainer is not there physically with you but virtually.”
Nutrition plays a very critical role in blocking viruses that could alter how the body system works. The right amounts of nutrients reduce risks of non-communicable diseases, increases energy levels to perform better and fight infections. Scientists say COVID-19 critically affects those with underlying health conditions.
Chyna told Weekendlife that he envisions reaching out to the world market, indicating that he will be having his training programs online as he has seen an opportunity in the digital space.
“This will start with repackaging my brand so that it is at par with the best in the world, hence why I have moved from Chyna’s kata-Bo to CMFit which provides more detailed programs anyone can do on their own- following my virtual programs.”
In his rigorous efforts to help people realize the significance of an active and healthy lifestyle, Chyna has collaborated with the BTV Morning Fitness Show and Yarona FM’s Fatboy Challenge which saw him landing another health segment with the radio station.
The fitness enthusiast has also worked with the senior men’s and women’s national football team, as well as the karate team as the conditioning coach. Internationally, Chyna has collaborated with Essence Events from the United States.
His core duty was to travel Africa promoting active lifestyle and health.Chyna is currently a conditioning coach for Township Rollers, an engagement that sees him guide and work with the team, keeping them at pick in terms of their fitness levels.
This enables them to cope with the demands of the game without fail throughout the season.
The country’s biggest beauty pageant, Miss Botswana, has eroded over the years. Beside the fact that crowned Queens dismally fail at Miss World year-in-year-out, the pageantry itself has been losing its shine in terms of organization, implementation and just throwing a glamourous event like it used to do before producing little to no tangible results.
Of course it started in 2018 when Miss Botswana was just disorganized and boring. The event was held at Masa Square Hotel, when only three participants battled it out for the blue crown.
Moitshepi Elias was crowned the princess that Friday night. That was technically the last time we saw her smile because, even if she did at Miss World, her smile wasn’t convincing enough.
The judges felt she was not good enough, as she was not even close to Top 40. In the history of the pageant, Miss Botswana 2010; Emma Wareus and Miss Botswana 1997; Mpule Kwelagobe are the only queens to be remembered as those who made a great impact as they reached top positions at Miss World and Miss Universe. Wareus was crowned the first runner up, while Kwelagobe snatched the title to become Miss Universe 1999.
Miss Botswana 2020 could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something that left beauty pageant analysts stunned. Some feel this is a huge setback for the organizers, Development Advance Institute (DAI). This organization took over in 2018 and came with a plan for Miss Botswana, in which they strive to give the pageant a facelift.
Prominent beauty pageant analyst, Morekolodi Smith, told Weekendlife that a gap year delayed the implementation of the plan. “DAI aimed at revamping the organization, bidding to host Miss World and it will be tough to reach those aspirations due to this year gap. It still has to work on the reputation of Miss Botswana which has been deteriorating for years.
DAI promised a new era for Miss Botswana, I had expectations that they will crown a well-rounded girl who can bring glory to this country. With everything on hold and zero communication on what to expect, I see failure. The silence and inactivity is almost eerie. I wouldn’t be surprised if DAI drops Miss Botswana and another organization takes over.”
Smith says part of Miss Botswana could be held virtually, to avoid the stillness and dropping in rankings. “Auditions, short-listings and preliminary interviews could be held virtually but not the actual final show. There is no need for the final show to be held virtually because traditionally Miss Botswana is never contested by more than 50 girls. The number is always narrowed to 12 and 16.”
He explained that the selection committee could go through all applications and select the Top 15, adding that the 15 would then be profiled in-depth followed by official photoshoots and glam shots. “They could then take part in multimedia campaigns and host webinars.
Pre-recording the swimsuit and evening gown preliminary competition as well as featuring contestant video profiling could add magic. This is the time to maximize on video content.”Smith says there could be talent segment where contestants showcase their talent to entertain, and it could be recorded and each contestant’s video can be uploaded on social media for online audience and the public gets to vote for their favourite, and the winner gets to perform during the final show.
“Then the final show can be streamed live on social media platforms. Miss Botswana could have all Top 15 contestants do an opening number, followed by self-introductions then their short video profiles played. It can feature live onstage swimsuit and evening gown competition.”
After the swimsuit and evening gown competition, Smith said the question and answer session could be held, leading to crowing of the next Miss Botswana. He however, said Miss Botswana’s performance is fuelled by many challenges that persisted for quite a stretch now.
“One major challenge is that the Miss Botswana pageant is held very late. Our queens have limited time to prepare. This leads to half cooked Beauty with a Purpose project. No one excels at Miss World without an impactful Beauty with a Purpose project.”
He suggested that Miss Botswana could be held at least eight months before Miss World festival so that the winner can work on her project, a project that needs to be documented and packaged well. “I realized that queens here don’t have physical input on their projects. They always look glamorous and do not actually do the work. They are always on VIP mode and only come to cut the ribbon.
It is time that stops today. Tiara should be put aside and sleeves should be rolled. Preparation and packaging is key.”“It is essential to have Miss Botswana every year so that she can reach out to communities and add value to those in need.
Being Miss Botswana is more like an ambassador, the winner gets to represent Botswana internationally, precisely at Miss World. I think Botswana requires that global positioning space, as this works well with country branding because Miss World is a premium event.”
Fashion is a thing of the past and yet it keeps on evolving. For an ordinary Motswana young person growing up in a rural setting, fashion might sound like an unfamiliar word because they don’t get to comprehend what the fuss is all about. For those lucky to have TV sets, they are likely to see a glimpse into what fashion really is.
Of course there are prominent fashionistas in the country, as well as the famous ones only seen on TV.These can be the likes of Bonang Matheba, Pearl Thusi and Boity Thulo. As equally talented as they are in the entertainment industry in South Africa, they also have an eye for fashion.
They are regularly ahead on the latest and upcoming trends within the fashion industry. These women have a creative vision and trend-setting style, and their sizzling outfits grace magazine covers week-in-week-out.
Well, that is a story for another day as that is likely to deem lights for our very own fashion stylist, Tumie Nthutang. She is underrated and given a side look, but she is a force to be reckoned with especially when it comes to styling celebrities and prominent public figures who love fashion.
She is not only a fashion stylist, she does blogging and she is a digital content creator with a YouTube channel up and running. Tumie Nthutang is a brand influencer, and she is doing pretty well for herself. In an exclusive interview with Weekend Life, Nthutang says her love for fashion was fuelled by an influx of questions from people asking how she can enhance their look, something that she saw fitting to make as a professional hustle.
“I would receive a request of that nature and wouldn’t turn it down. The country has very minimal fashion stylists, so it has always been my pleasure to jump in and help someone look amazingly beautiful. At the end of the day, its coin coming into my bank account,” she says.
It is a dream come true for any entrepreneur to see their clients’ content by the service offered, and Nthutang feels the same. There has been a trend whereby unsatisfied customers cat fight with service providers on social media.
Nevertheless, Nthutang said “Once I am done with styling consultation, what makes me happy is obviously seeing my client’s confidence elevated. A spring in their step as they walk and most importantly, seeing them in love with the new look in the mirror.”
For quite a stretch now, Batswana have been lacking behind when it comes to fashion. Nthutang shared the same sentiments, however, expressing gratefulness as she feels Batswana are now catching up. It’s never too late, so they say! “I think they are slowly catching onto lifestyle, of which fashion and style fall under and it’s taking time but social media has definitely influenced and actually solved the mess.”
Besides fashion styling and being an ‘It-Girl’ on Instagram, Nthutang is a brand influencer having worked with remarkable brands in and across borders. She has also dipped her hand in the YouTube cookie jar, creating entertaining content for her subscribers. YouTube pays account holders according to the number of views, even though rumour has it that as for Botswana, it is not the case.
“I create content on my different social media platforms and partner with different brands on a wide variety of campaigns. My content on YouTube is mainly an extension and uncensored version of the content that’s on the other platforms.”
According to her profile, she has worked with First National Bank Botswana FNBB, Ultimate Sports Union, Tanqueray, Volkswagen as well as Cotton On. She is also a public speaker, having featured on different speaking platforms such as Sneakers Expo, Ideas Expo, Branding 101 Masterclass as well as End Girl Hate Self Love Soiree 2018. Nthutang has a Degree in LLB from the University of Botswana.