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‘Jewel in the Sand’ depicts Basarwa’s modern lifestyle

Caught between modernity and 20, 000 years as hunter-gatherers, the San people or Basarwa as they are mostly called, sit at a crossroads. An indigenous people in Southern Africa, they are our oldest human ancestors; DNA testing proving the San are direct descendants of the first Homo sapiens.

But today their culture, traditions and heritage are at risk of being lost forever. The San live across South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Namibia. In Botswana, we call them Basarwa, where they live a largely nomadic lifestyle that has remained undisturbed for millennia. Culture is something that can die and it is dynamic. Basarwa lived in Central Kalahari Game Reserve, or CKGR if you may, and it is the second largest of its kind in the world, and survived by hunting which was passed on to the young generation as years passed by. But in 1997 the government began removing the Basarwa from the reserve, ostensibly to protect the area and integrate the community into mainstream society.

Now based in resettlement village, passing on age-old traditions has become harder and harder for the Basarwa. Some of the kids, Basarwa kids, are taken to schools and they tend to lose their culture because they are taught other ways of living. Also, the famous trance dance, a stalwart of Basarwa culture, could one day suffer at the hands of modern music, played on radios and mobile phones by youths.

From all these challenges, it is proof that indeed culture is dynamic, malleable and susceptible to change- for better or for worse. But with will and determination, some believe the Basarwa have what it takes. This has been made evident by a movie dubbed ‘Jewel in the Sand’ shot in the Ghanzi District in a remote village called Kole, a hub where most of the Basarwa are found even today! The movie is a Lenswood production product in association with AK Films and Visual Brew as its casting agency.

When speaking in an exclusive interview with Weekend Life, co-producer Abednico Rankwe said ‘’the movie strives to tell a tale of Batswana from a rural area perspective, where we tackled the real challenges they face. We also wanted to show the rest of the world how Basarwa have evolved, so we can change the perspective of those who still perceive them to be living in the wild wearing only animal skins. Our movie depicts positivity as we address educational challenges, women empowerment, social inclusion and truancy as it is escalating at higher rates within the Basarwa students’’

The movie has a teacher who goes all out to make sure he attains education for all and in the whole process solving these challenges. These dares are authentic challenges that do exist in the rural areas, Rankwe told Weekend Life reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang.
Telling a story that is so indigenous and legitimate is crucial. It is vital for its own people can say it better. Rankwe believes that it is time Africans, or Batswana in particular tell their stories.

‘’We as Africans should tell our stories to the world than wait for people to come outside and start telling our African stories because they do not tell them exactly as they are. Who is better suited to tell a story about Batswana than us Batswana? It is also starting to prove that developed countries have ran out of stories to tell and have thus turned focus to Africa, and they are telling the world stories we could be telling them, and doing so better!’’

He also indicated that Batswana have a vast wealth of talent that is just waiting for one to mine and export to the world. ‘’Batswana’s talent is more like Jewels in the Sand that need to be unearthed. We have so much talent hidden in the villages far from the city. That is one reason why we shot this movie at a very small unknown village in the Ghanzi District called Kole. We wanted to extract this hidden talent and expose it to the world as we have worked with some actors from the village as well,’’ said Rankwe.

 However, the movie will be premiering at New Capitol Cinema late this month. ‘’We are shutting down the Riverwalk Cinema at eight in the evening for this launch; no other movie will be playing but Jewel in the Sand. It will be a red carpet themed ‘’elegant traditional or traditional glamour’’, where we want to infuse traditional attire with modern fashion and still look red carpet friendly,’’ said Rankwe.

The launch comes at the right time to cultivating cinema film culture in Botswana, to making it a custom to have local movies playing in cinemas: not only locally but even in international platforms, Rankwe indicated. ‘’We are as well trying to have another launch outside the country. The group saw it fit to ready the market for the rising stars and producers, subsequently opening the long forbidden doors for them. For the premier night our target market is the corporate and senior government officials, as they are the ones we want on board in spearheading the local film industry. We want to make them aware of the existence and relevance of this industry in the country’s economic development and in job creation’’.

It was also underlined that the intention was to fill up all the four cines at New Capitol Cinema, something that has never been done before. This is made possible by hash tag #FillupNewCapitolRiverwalk, which was created to send a positive message to the government, various stakeholders and film industry enthusiasts that Batswana still stand a chance to make it in this industry, therefore they are called to rally behind the local film industry and to give it more support.’’

The film industry, according to Rankwe, is one dormant industry that if well utilized and fully exploited can help diversify the economy of the country, and it’s basically the point they are trying to emphasize. ‘’We want to raise awareness and even demonstrate that this can be a rich industry so that potential investors can come forth and support it. It is time we get recognition, we get endorsements, funding, support, sponsorship and time we revolutionize this industry.

Shutting down the entire cinema and reserving if for a local production might cause enough waves across all sectors to develop interest in this industry. Of recent it has been difficult for companies and organizations to commit their resources into developing the film industry because they knew less about films and their value, and it is through our initiative to change this perception.

Rankwe stressed that they have extended an invitation to an International Multi Award Winning Film Director Dr Abraham Kabwe from neighbouring Zambia, as well as a surprise appearance from the most internationally celebrated movie star. He however said, they still awaiting confirmation from President Masisi and his wife Neo Masisi. The Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture has since confirmed his attendance.

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WeekendLife

Fashion without Borders flops

26th October 2020
FASHION WITHOUT BORDERS 2020

Fashion makes a statement, which is why Fashion without Borders tries by all means to get all amazing young designers to create dresses to fit every personality- from princess to punk, and everything in between.

Pretty obvious though, the 2020 edition flopped. It didn’t come as a surprise because the taxing COVID-19 pandemic has had overwhelming impacts on almost everything in the world.

Just when we thought Fashion without Borders 2020 will come much better than the previous tedious one, we were floored to see that there was little to no difference. The show was held at the most famous Molapo Crossing Stanbic Piazza, which without doubt was a perfect outdoor venue to host a fashion show, it didn’t however look like it was a fashion show filled with glitz and glam, if anything the show looked more like a public meeting.

The venue lack creativity and unruffled ambience. There were few chairs lined perfectly with a distance of two meters in between as a way of observing COVID-19 health protocols, but it looked more of a wedding than a fashion show.

As if that wasn’t startling enough, some important guests were told that there are no chairs for them to occupy. They had no choice but to stand on their feet the entire two shows, unacceptable and unprofessional for an event of its magnitude.

The Piazza is paved with light brownish small bricks that nearly made half of the models tumble. They kept on trembling, quaking and walking like new born calves, it was painful to watch to say the least. A ramp would have solved this issue.

Fashion without Borders is such a prodigious and immense esteemed fashion event that shouldn’t be seen with lot of glitches, especially that it features international designers from as far as Nigeria. The show was divided into two phases.

Attendees had to purchase two tickets should they want to attend both shows. There wasn’t really much of a difference between the two shows though.Security guards were all over trying to make sure everyone has the right tag for the second show, and people felt hassled.

As always, there were goodie bags with some nice gifts in them to be given to attendees at the fashion show. Some folks got their hands on the gifts and while others left out probably because the providers felt whichever way about that particular person.

I was reliably informed that some of the ‘big’ organizers were on quarantine and only underlings had to dance to the music. Some of them, according to a key witness, irked some members of the media. The media came in great numbers to support the event, like always, only for them to be treated less than.

Some of them left their cameras on and the ‘big’ organizers were not so happy about this from their quarantine centres. We just hope they recovered from the trauma of the COVID-19 contact tracing, as well as the droning, muddled event they threw this year.

In the fashion sense, a lot of folks felt it lacked substance. From the theme itself “The Phygital Experience”, most attendees were already lost, having no clue what it meant or how to respond to it.

Some felt the designers brought collections with less creativity, which spoke with little to no volume, while others were not fascinated by what was physically and digitally presented by the designers and models.

 

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WeekendLife

Surviving breast cancer

26th October 2020
Surviving breast cancer-Otshepheng Mthimkhulu

Breast cancer has been a nightmare for most women globally, and according to World Health Organization (WHO), the condition will continue claiming lives of many for years to come.

For Otshepheng Mthimkhulu, a 36-year old police officer at Ramotswa, had her life turned upside down by the illness. It has been a miserable reality getting to know that she has breast cancer, and for the rest of her life, she will be surviving with a single breast.

The small blood stains on her right breast stirred her to go see the doctor, who then recommended pain killers to ease the agony. Not knowing what she is suffering from, Mthimkhulu was told to come for check-up the next month which ultimately failed to give her a diagnosis.

It was only when she was getting seriously concerned about this condition that she followed up on the check-ups for the next six months. After being sent from pillar to post pertaining to mammogram that she was supposed to undergo, she finally got tested at a private hospital where she tested and did a biopsy.

“Unfortunately the results came back and I was told I have a metaplastic carcinoma breast cancer on stage 3,” she said.With her worse fear a reality, Mthimkhulu started her chemotherapy which took eight circles. “After the last circle I decided that I was not going for surgery because at the time, I was on training at the police college.

Lot of questions flocked my mind, lost in thoughts how I am going to face the world with only a single breast. That was the saddest time of my life.”Mthimkhulu had to do mastectomy and start another chemotherapy Herceptin because her hormones tested positive. She did not know what was next, only to be told that the cancer is now in her lungs.

Questions came rising and falling, and no answers were close enough. She was devastated, her dreams were crumpled and her life carried up-side-down. Quizzed on how she survived all the way through, she told Weekendlife that she got a little of inspiration from a series she watched, saying that she learnt that actually, there are other complicated conditions people are suffering and dying from, and cancer can be much better.

“I then started opening up to people and telling them about breast cancer. I earned great support from my close associates, something that gave me hope. At one point I met a woman who introduced me to a fighter group that abetted us with everything we needed.

It was a consecration I must say, because most of us felt much better and alive. Learning that we have breast cancer was just a fairy-tale to us.”They say every woman needs a man. Mthimkhulu found her husband who has been supportive and courageous throughout this journey. She said there are other substantial women who offered artificial breast, wigs and counselling.

No one ever told Mthimkhulu that this will be smooth sailing nor did she expect it to be. She went through overwhelming experiences that made her hopeless at times. According to her, at times her doctor’s appointments would be cancelled last minute. As much as that can be discouraging, she held on nonetheless.

“I started experiencing the side effects of the chemotherapy when I lost my hair, nails and skin complexion. I was always fatigued and stressed most of the times and I was always on sick leave. This was fracturing because I never thought at one point I will be living with cancer,” she said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Award-Winning Youth Activist, Omphemetse Mmolai, through her organization Berekela Botswana Monana in collaboration with LEGABIBO will be hosting breast cancer survivors, well-wishers, and other relevant stakeholders for breast cancer awareness event in Lobatse this Saturday.

Mmolai told Weekendlife reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang that there will be a hill climbing exercise meant to sensitize the public about the breast cancer condition, adding that the Lobatse DHMT and LEGABIBO organizations will be having pertinent presentations.

“I have been involved in different activities geared at addressing various issues that affect the youth, women and girls. It is significant to note that these activities were conducted in Lobatse, so this month as it is the time to raise awareness about breast cancer, that will be my main focus.”

Quizzed on why hill climbing, she said this is a way of showing hardships of what breast cancer survivors go through. This is to say they comprehend the circumstances they are being challenged with, and that they are not alone in this fight.

 

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WeekendLife

A.T.I: Batswana’s Judas Iscariot

19th October 2020
Atasaone Molemogi aka

Atasaone Molemogi, who goes by the stage name of A.T.I, is yet again making headlines and trending on social media platforms.

The eccentric and somewhat lose cannon artist is under fire for the stunts he pulled early this year. A.T.I had gone over and above to enlighten and fight for Batswana’s rights against according to him, foreigners who have monopolised the country.

So much so Atasaone recorded a video ranting and hurling insults while in front of Satar Dada’s Motor Centre at Fairground Mall. That was one of his many episodes. However, the one that gave him the ‘struggle icon’ persona was when he was arrested for making a video in front of the State House, this landed the dear lad in the cells of Urban Police Station and later transferred to Central Police Station.

Batswana gathered at the Central Police to demonstrate and demand the maverick be released. A.T.I became the Mandela of Botswana, the voice of the voiceless, the Messiah Batswana needed. A.T.I could not become any bigger till another outspoken personality stepped on the stage, Duma Gideon Boko, lawyer and President of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The aberrant lawyer did not disappoint, especially when he flamboyantly swung his gown on like Superman in front of the press. This was the moment, Botswana’s two outspoken and nonconformists were wearing their capes to save the ordinary citizen from years of being subjected to mediocracy.

Molemogi had Batswana believe that indeed they were being treated unfairly in their own country and incited many to take up arms and fight for a better Botswana for Batswana. The people stood rock solid behind the maverick artist.

That is until A.T.I pulled the rug under their feet and went ahead and met Tumiso Rakgare, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. The very same Minister he vehemently declined to meet, hell-bent on only having an audience with the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi.

What transpired between Rakgare and A.T.I is not known, but any Tom, Dick and Harry can guess that A.T.I, one way or another, was enticed by something said or done by the Minister because the recluse was as silent as a lamb after the meet.

Now, this publication by no means implies that Rakgare offered Atasaone anything valuable but observing the cries of the masses it may be deducted to something along those lines.All this however happened mid this year and anyone would think that it would be old news and a closed chapter, not to be.

The public cannot for the life of them get over how A.T.I used them to push his agenda and then leave them hanging. A sin unforgiveable in the eyes of Batswana. And so the masses have to have their displeasure made known.

A.T.I has been awarded a new name, Judas Iscariot. The infamous follower of Jesus Christ who sold the latter to the Jews for 30 pieces of silver. Batswana made the reference having deducted that they and their dreams have been sold in the same way Christ was sold off. A.T.I has sabotaged and sold the struggle, for what or how much is still not known.

While people find it hard to understand why ATI threw in the towel, the controversial singer seems unbothered and does not regret anything. He however cited that he is not fond of the name ‘Judas Iscariot’. He further stated that people should understand that it is easy for him to get lost in the midst of everything.

A.T.I shared with this publication that he needed to start somewhere in order to meet the President. He further mentioned to this publication that they discussed how best they can assist the youth and he was telling the Minister about his clothing line, and asking for support from the minister. None of the things mentioned have materialized however.

In his defence he said, “We need to be able to save ourselves before we can be able to save others. People should stop laughing at people who supported me and they should stop calling me Judas Iscariot. The reason why I was going to war when the year began, was because I needed security and I needed our leaders to give me answers.

I was scared I wanted more communication. With time I noticed that I am losing myself. No one told me what to do but I did what I did and I did exactly how l felt it was best,” he said.“A lot of people felt I am their answer, no! I am not anybody’s answer that is why when I was still at it I noticed the saviour mentality. I felt I was back at it again.

I cannot try to save the world all the time. You cannot change the world that don’t see the need to change their mental state.

At the same time the people I am trying to do it for, are still stuck in 89. I did it for the people I needed to do it for and for the truest results to be visible.”

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