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.
Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.
In these unprecedented times of the overwhelming and the deadly COVID-19, it is only critical that people stand together and remain committed to helping each other, being kind enough to lend a helping hand in any way possible.
The contagious virus left people confounded, deprived and depressed. The pandemic shuttered many economies, industries and the entertainment sector was no exemption. If anything, the entertainment industry took the biggest hit of all the sectors but this was a hit felt in every country in the world not just a local tragedy.
There were tear-jerking testimonies of creatives, in particular artists, suffering from extreme hunger as events were given a rain check. Technically, social events have been shut for sixteen months now.
There were series of protests calling for the immediate opening of the creative sector, in a phased manner. Some brave yet unfortunate artists were arrested for taking up arms and protesting the strict COVID-19 regulations placed on the entertainment sector.
When protests failed and their laments falling on government’s usual deaf ears, prominent artists Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.
COVID-19 has created untold challenges for musicians in Botswana, but there are possibilities- challenges have a way of breeding solutions nonetheless.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday, Vee said the Battle to Develop Artists Welfare is aimed at inspiring artists to learn diversification, which has been lacking for quite a stretch amongst fellow artists. A lot of local artists depend solely on music, which on its own has been performing below par, and COVID-19 has brought that into clear view, showing how most artists in Botswana live off scraps, barely making money off their beloved passion- music.
“This project was born out of compassion. The world as it is now is experiencing a rough patch, and you can imagine how other artists are coping. It is really a struggle, and we saw it critical to jump on-board and help our fellow colleagues. It will help artists start small businesses, some will start short courses which will enable them to find employment in the long run.
For it to have weight, we incorporated it into a challenge on stage, performing our songs. We hope this will inspire business moguls to sponsor and pledge some monies towards this initiative,” said Vee.
Charma gal indicated that the live battle on stage has been supported with musical instruments, further indicating that this is a volunteerism project with no proceeds to gain from.
“We will divide and disburse proceeds to our fellow artists, I mean these are people we have been working alongside for so many years. There is no how we can be reckless towards them when we see how hard the situation is.
We are in this together, and we are going to stick together like that. Some have started already doing something, and meeting them half way is only fundamental,” Charma Gal told WeekendLife.
The duo stressed that Gaborone North Member of Parliament, Mpho Balopi, has pledged P50 000 towards this battle, further calling on other businessmen to come to the party. Vee says Balopi supported the initiative from the get-go, brushing aside allegations that the project is politically influenced.
Initiatives brought forward to aid the entertainment sector have caused controversy, with Vee emphasizing that not all artists will benefit from this particular charity cause. “We have artists who are struggling, and sadly so. Some of them were bread winners and there is no income coming in, making it hard for them to cope with the economic challenges.
There has been an increase in VAT recently, and such developments make the situation worse. Rigorous assessments will be done to identify our desired beneficiaries.”
Vee and Charma Gal will be battling it out on stage with the battle scheduled to take place on the 28th May 2021. Because events are still striped, the show will be online with COVID-19 protocols to be adhered to.
Early December last year, scores of disgruntled artists congregated at GSS grounds seeking government to address their plight in the face of the COVID-19 restrictions.
2020 was a depraved year for the local entertainment industry. Music festivals, large gatherings and concerts were given a rain check as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the deadly Corona-virus. As for an industry that depends solely on events for survival, the move to shelf gigs was literally kicking a dog when it’s down.
There was no revenue coming in, and depression found its way into the already devastated industry. Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, was fingered in this muddle. He was censured for being hushed. The relief fund also sparked controversy, with many creatives of the belief that it’s prejudiced and impractical.
Early December last year, scores of disgruntled artists congregated at GSS grounds seeking government to address their plight in the face of the COVID-19 restrictions. The situation became chaotic as police officers told the artists that the gathering is illegal and that they should get a permit first. Artists decided to go the right way, applying for a permit to hold their meeting, and this time around in Old Naledi.
Creatives (most of which are BOMU members) came out swinging as they packed Old Naledi grounds in a show of strength against the COVID-19 Task team and politicians. But gathering a large crowd at the Old Naledi grounds was like playing a game of Russian roulette, as most of the attendees were potentially exposed to the Corona virus because there was no social distancing, wearing of masks, nor sanitization.
Artists however were clearly making their voices heard – they wanted their industry opened, but by the look of things the Task Force team will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat for this to be given the greenlight before another year comes to pass. Till date, the creative industry is still abandoned.
Following a series of protests, the custodian Ministry (MYSC) came up with virtual gigs and engaged artists for performances. However, this fuelled tension between upcoming artists and those who are already household names. In late December 2020, a group of young artists demanded answers from the Youth Ministry on how the so called ‘Big Artists’ secured virtual gigs from the Ministry.
A new BOMU Executive Committee was ushered in August last year which saw the Union and the custodian Ministry smoke a peace pipe. Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is an organization that works as an intermediary between registered artists and the Youth Ministry.
On Friday (16th April 2021) at a press conference to launch the 10th BOMU music awards, BOMU President Phemelo ‘Fresh’ Lesokwane said the Union has effectively managed to rebuild and earn back trust with its stakeholders, including MYSC and De Beers.
“These two entities have been BOMU music awards’ top sponsors for the past 10 years. We have managed to revive the awards and appoint a person who I will refer to as a brand marketing specialist. There has been a lot of miscommunication peddled around and as a leader of BOMU, I will be irresponsible to ignore all of it,” Fresh said.
Fresh is definitely not MYSC nor Minister of Rakgare’s spokesperson, but he had this to say: “It is very important I clear up the distortion of facts out there. MYSC and BOMU leadership have been hard at work, and in the previous year, we managed to push 90% of our members to register with COSBOTS so as to benefit from the subsidy. For the matter of fact, this did happen.
BOMU says it managed to convince MYSC to fund their 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM). “The Ministry accommodated, paid all costs of accommodation and food for all the delegates who attended the AGM. This was a first for BOMU for as long as anyone can remember. I was so happy to see Minister Rakgare attending our AGM, which was for the first time also.”
Rakgare and his associates have been given a pat on the back for the national consultative meetings they took last year. They met with industry representatives and discussed calendar of events and how they should be rolled out. BOMU also pleaded with the Youth Ministry not to cancel events this year, and according to Fresh, the Ministry agreed.
“This is why they are helping with BOMU music awards and in due course, we will be calling the media to reveal the sponsorship. And on top of that, BOMU has access to the Minister and his circle of associates. They have their doors open for us, and we can’t be fighting with the Ministry while we see how welcoming it is to us. Lot of noise is made by non-BOMU members, which should be condemned in any way possible.
The Youth Ministry however, says it will engage on consultations with organizations, not individuals. This is why it is very important for artists to join BOMU now.”
This past week seemed like a time travel back to the early 1970’s where women were judged and stoned for what they wear, what they should wear, and whose attention their dress code will grab.
Every Tom, Dick and Harry gave their two cents on the matter, unnecessarily so. Its disheartening that in 2021 a woman is dictated to about what she should wear.
The genesis of the whole saga was because of a certified life coach and personal trainer, Agang Atlholang, derided as an example of an anti-feminist.
Atlholang updated a controversial post on her Facebook page where she seemingly attacked and dragged some women for wearing appealing clothes that leave little to the imagination.
The personal coach further went on to highlight that she could be fully clothed and be able to attract and steal some of these women’s lovers. Audacious of her to assume but more disheartening that her wardrobe is subliminally dictated by men.
It should be noted that this wasn’t her first controversial post where she has threatened or promised to take other women’s men, it may not be her last either but this post however did get on a lot of women’s last nerve.
“A woman’s sexuality is so much more than her thighs, (beep) and breasts. It’s your aura, confidence, seduction and the way you carry yourself, watching everything rock and roll in silence. I know who I am, I am a boss lady. I can still get your man without showing skin,” said Atlholang.
It is hard to place the fitness coach, is she pro-feminism or anti-feminism? Because one minute she would say something that makes sense and that almost everyone can relate to and other times she barks threats like a toothless bulldog.
She was not wrong to publicly and indirectly affirm that she doesn’t wear revealing outfits, but for her to be coming at those who do so was entirely out of line. How a woman presents herself to the world has a very little to do with a man’s preference.
Any personal liberation of what one chooses to clothe their own body is clouded by the misogynistic backdrop of the world we live in. In all cases, a woman’s body is assumed to be someone else’s before is it her own.
If she takes off her clothes, it is seen to be a sign of her insecurity and need for validation, rather than feeling comfortable with herself. Once she’s stripped, that’s all she is. This is the insidious pressures of misogyny that we all have a duty to attack and put in the past where it belongs.
WeekendLife reached out to Atlholang but her phone went unanswered. She did not respond to a questionnaire sent to her on Wednesday. Celebrated feminist Resego Kgosidintsi says there should be no expectations on what a woman does with her body. Some women are thick and curvy, while some are slim and petite, all body types are beautiful.
Kgosidintsi uploaded two pictures on her Facebook page in which she compared herself. In one picture she was only in a bikini on the beach whereas in the other picture she was wearing formal attire. She went on to say;
“I am the woman in both pictures, my worth did not decrease on picture 2 because I revealed almost all of my skin and neither is my worth on a 100 on picture 1 because my skirt is below the knee.
I have about 7 tattoos on my entire body and that still does not make me less of a woman. I drink and smoke cigarettes too and that doesn’t mean the woman in church who doesn’t smoke or drink more woman than me. Can we respect people’s choices, can we respect women.” Feminist, media personality and socialite, Oratile Kefitlhile shares the same sentiments as Kgosidintsi.
‘‘Feminism is subject, if I feel as a woman that when I’m fully dressed I’m celebrating my femininity, so be it. If another woman feels they are embracing their femininity more with their thighs out, that’s perfectly fine still. Let them be.
We have been preaching this revolution for a very long time of women being allowed to wear what they want, and being allowed to embrace their womanhood in the way that speaks to them, so I feel at this point we should not be having these debates,” Kefitlhile told WeekendLife on Tuesday.
Controversial poet, artist and businesswoman, Berry Heart is of the belief that women are envious towards each other. She argues that celebrating femininity has no boundaries subsequently making no one woman superior.
Quizzed on what makes women fight over small issues such as what they wear, she says “Batswana women are broken so much that we don’t want to see another woman succeeding on anything. We desire to make them dejected.”