As a Motswana living abroad, I try everyday to keep up to date with what's happening in my beloved country. And last week everywhere I looked especially on social media I saw stories about Nonhle, a South African celebrity and socialite who had been invited to Botswana, yet again I am here still praying more event organisers will someday promote more local talent instead of always feeling bringing someone from across the border is so much better.
Nonhle was allegedly overheard saying Batswana women are skinny ugly and have aids. These remarks touched the wrong nerve with nearly the entire country. Well let’s start with the skinny part. The slimming industry is booming because of women globally. Last time I checked calling someone skinny was generally a compliment. People would have felt a lot worse had she called us fat.
Now the ugly part:
Batswana women, me included are incredibly beautiful and they really should know that. When you are beautiful and you believe it, you wouldn’t be faced by some stranger calling you ugly. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. She may well think we are ugly but we are responsible for our own self esteem and have no control over how others see us. If anything the ugly comment has done us a favour, because now the world will be curious about our alleged ugliness, and when they search for our images, they will see how beautiful we really are.
I don't know if this was her first time in Botswana, but I feel she must have just been intimidated by how stunning Batswana women are and had a jealous outburst. People can only make you feel ugly with your consent or if you rely on other people's comments to feel good. But there are people who may still be offended by being called beautiful.
People will always judge you and that's how it is. Valuable time is better invested on people who say nice things about us. Now the aids bit which to me is the most important argument here.
Botswana is still fighting a massive fight against the stigma. I remember listening to the presidential debate between Mr Boko and Mr Shaleshando, and how they spoke about health issues saying the nation needed to stop criminalisation of aids. I was so pleased with both their comments.
Aids should be like another illness. People shouldn't feel more offended when someone says they have aids and not when people say they have diabetes. AIDS is not a crime. We are making more and more people ashamed to seek medical help if we continue stigmatising aids.
Yes everyone has a right to privacy and to not disclose their status if they don’t want to and no one has the right to go around shouting publicly about others private illnesses. But I got the feeling the aids part hurt most the most simply because they see it as hideous, but perhaps wouldn’t have reacted in the same manner had it been another illness.
The truth of the matter is Batswana call Zimbabweans makwerekwere, Bakgalagadi Makgalagatsana, Bakalaka Makalaka or Manoko, we are a country that has been abusing Basarwa for years and still continue to make derogatory comments and treat them as inferior, in a country that’s theirs too.
Growing up in Botswana I have seen disabled and mentally ill people and poor people laughed at and verbally abused. And right now I feel it is rather rich for us to now be on our moral high ground making an example of Nonhle, while all she has done probably not intentionally is given us a taste of our own medicine. Yes she generalised, but would it have been better for her to be like us and say "mosarwa ke wa monna fela, wa mosadi ke mosadi"?
I feel the country has a lot to be frustrated about especially after the elections and the parliament drama, so we are just looking for an opportunity to vent out. Nonhle just came at the right time. I just feel we have to deal with our own issues before we point a finger at outsiders.
Yes we must not let outsiders disrespect us, but we must practice what we preach too. Charity begins at home and Setswana sa re "Mmampodi ga a ipone se se mo tlhogong" Nonhle may have been wrong but my point is we are not any better.
A job, lucrative or not, is a job after all. Sometimes one has to compromise in order to make a living, few people get a job their dream jobs. But once in a while there is an emergence of people who listen to their inner calling to pursue their passion.
The founder and head designer of Butterfly Couture, Chawa July is one of those few people who left their job to pursue their passion. An inspiring fact about July is that she is a self-taught fashion designer, she used to copy patterns from her old clothes until she learnt how to draw them, and she also searched information from the internet to increase her knowledge and skills.
“It all started as a hobby from my love for beautiful dresses and I started adjusting and making clothes for myself. Gradually people around me started to take interest in my craft and the hobby slowly grew into a profitable business,” July said.
The 41 year fashion designer from Molepolole worked her way up in the Procurement space for over 10 years. She worked at Stanbic Bank, Kromberg & Schubert and Clover Dairy as a Procurement supervisor. Her last job before she entered the fashion industry was a Manager for Contacts & Sourcing at a Facilities Management Company.
She established her fashion house in October 2019 and it has become synonyms with elegant wedding gowns and exquisite evening wear. July said when designing she is inspired by various aspects such as the client’s personality, the mood of the event and the theme. She further mentioned that every opportunity is to show her craft so she always aims to please.
“Every Butterfly Couture piece must represent the elegance and the creativity the brand is about,” she said. Butterfly Couture has adorned beauty queens; Miss Botswana 2021/2022 Ambrociah Samboko at Miss Universe in South Korea and Miss Botswana 2019,Oweditse Fafah Phirinyane during her reign of which is the highlight of her career. They have also marked their presence in a few fashion events locally and in the neighbouring countries.”
They showcased at The Grand Palm Wedding Expo, Masa Fashion Show, Miss Botswana Fashion Show and Sacunda plus Size Fashion Show. The will also be showcasing at Gabs July Fashion Show on the 15th of July alongside the South African designer, popularly known as the King of glamour David Tlale.
July also identified that one of the challenges they face in the couture is that, it’s a seasonal business. “There are times in the year when the business is great and challenging. Winter in particular, is difficult time to stay afloat as there aren’t as many events that people are inspired to dress spectacularly for,” she said. She further said that her aim is to be a prime couturier of choice in Botswana.
“Craft like your life depends on it because every happy client is 10 more referrals” is what she said when asked to serve a word of wisdom to people hoping to make it in the fashion industry.
The Botswana Gospel Music Awards (BOGMA) and the Annual Gospel Awards (AGA) are said to be no longer in existence and a joint venture project has been put up that will carry out the awarding of gospel musicians.
The new entity has been established as Gospel Music Awards, which is a project at this moment is nearer to dishing out the first Gospel Awards under the leadership of the dissolved entities (BOGMA and AGA). “The difference is the same, it is just that the two projects were run by different minds which had differing objectives,” said the project coordinator, Letsweletse Moshabi when asked what the difference was between the two previous awards.
He added that at this junction their focus is on the future of the gospel musicians and they would like to direct their energies to the new project and forgo the past projects. “The Music market especially the gospel genre is too small and that basically means the very small market was experiencing the imbalance in the supply and demand forces. At that stage, supply was more than the demand so the reason for the joint forces is to allow the supply and demand forces to readjust and form equilibrium,” added Moshabi.
The mandate and objectives of the project are to recognize and award gospel music talent, to create awareness of the Botswana gospel music industry and to create a platform where fellow musicians may exchange ideas and network amongst themselves and approach international markets in cohesion.
The first of these joint awards will be held on the 27th August 2022 at Molapo Showcase under the theme ‘Cohesiveness to Build’ where about 18 categories will be up for grabs.
The Kumnandi Ekhaya musik festival will be held on the 30th September 2022 at Thamaga village. The event coincides with the release of famous host, Dj Ngwazi’s first album called ‘spring day’ on the 2nd of September 2022.
The Thamaga born and raised Lefika Lushen Kebatlege is a disc jockey and a music producer signed under WanitwaMos Entertainment in South Africa. Famously known as Dj Ngwazi and formally known as DJ superstar, he has really worked hard to become one of the finest export DJs the country has produced. Internationally, he is described as a DJ from South African because of his works with popular music artist Master KG.
Meanwhile, the music festival will feature South African artists, Makhazi, Master KG, Prince Benza and Mthunzi. They will also be joined by some of the big local artists, Franco, Vee Mampeezy, among others. “The tickets of the concert will be available at Spar stores, webticket and Kings bar. There will be three categories for VIP tickets, the one that goes for P1000, P1500 and P2200,” said the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest promoter Sadie Swartz of Saysay Entertainment.
“We have a new system to tackle the cry of promoters about security at the events. We will have a team of 100 security men, 10 horses and 15 dogs. We also agreed with the police to help with traffic control and no tickets will be sold at the gate to avoid circulation of money which can attract thieves,” said Kagiso Gaodumelwe from All Night Security.
“I started deejaying back in the days when I was still schooling at Kagiso Senior School and I never stopped working towards my career since then. I have a career in South Africa, since 2018 when Master KG took me in and his support as a brother has taken me to places,” said DJ Ngwazi describing his career journey.
“Kumnandi Ekhaya is Zulu language which means ‘go monate ko gae’ in Setswana. The name came about as a way of inviting my South African fans and supporters to my home village Thamaga to come experience the joy that comes with celebrating our freedom and independence. I used isiZulu because it’s the dominant language in South Africa,” explained Dj Ngwazi.
“The concert will be held in an open space which was used for agricultural purposes and we would like to call it ‘Ko Legoleng’. With this concert I want to redeem the dignity of our village because we once had the cases of youth who were terrorizing the community, beating up people in the streets and stealing and these was really a concern in our community because they were tarnishing the village name,” said Dj Ngwazi.
The purpose of this concert is to empower the community of Thamaga and local artist, more especially artist from Thamaga village like, Kgabo Sereto traditional group. There will be a litter picking campaign around the village before the launch of the concert .The sponsors which are already on board are Dladleng Entertainment and Kings bar and there are still more sponsors to be revealed.
”As the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest management, we are going to buy food combos and take them to Thamaga village Kgotla so they can be donated to the less privileged and orphans. Starting from October we will be donating pads to all Junior Schools in Thamaga,” said Dj Ngwazi. Dj Ngwazi’s motivational words to other artist and everyone else; work hard, be patient and be determined.