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Model catwalks through ‘hell fires’ of the modelling industry

Francis Model

Models are the faces of the fashion industry. People might think their job is just sitting around looking pretty, but that is contrary to what modelling is. The worrying obsession with staying thin and fit is well-known, and in recent years horror stories about the sexual harassment and abuse models face in everyday work have come to the surface.

These folks would walk the runway, strike kosher poses in front of flashing camera lights but deep down, they go through all sorts of manipulation, just so they get some trifling monies to fix their makeup. It takes a strong person to take on the harsh world of fashion and still deliver a gorgeous photo at any given moment.

As much as education is essential for self-development and probably a way of getting a fine paying job, some of these models leave their education behind to pursue modelling. Not that they want to, possibly because they find modelling as passion that is likely to improve their living, not knowing what they are up against.

The country’s top model, Francis Chabwe, has become the face of the next generation of supermodels. Even though he had to quit his teaching course to chase modelling as a line of business, his career was swiftly aided by his social media skills.

He took crafting a brand to an art form and climbed the charts to become one of the most followed models in the country, and frankly, he is doing amazingly fine. In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife this week, he said following an encounter with her girlfriend, they gave birth to a child that came at the time he was grappling to make ends meet in the streets of the wearing capital city, Gaborone.

‘’It was grim for me to an extent that I had to give priority to the streets. I found hustling in the streets more significant than being in class. I felt I lost much time on lectures because at the end of the day I would need money to sustain my life, and care for the young baby I have.’’

Chabwe says even though it wasn’t the right decision to take, he had to do it anyway. ‘’The situations I was facing at the time didn’t allow me to be at school. I wanted something to keep me busy, something that would give me what I wanted, which was dosh at the time. I found myself giving priority to modelling and hustling in the streets,’’ he said.

The harsh situations haven’t stopped Chabwe from stomping runway after runway. His future appears to be nothing but bright. He first auditioned with Empire modelling agency, which was literally his step into the industry.

‘’I have always been photogenic, people would appreciate that and suggest I venture into beauty pageantry. I did precisely that and they were right, I entered a beauty competition at school and secured a top position. I only realized at a later stage that I love being before a camera. A camera doesn’t give me any nerve, that’s when my friend recommended I enter the modelling industry.’’

Literally four years later, Chabwe found a spot in runway modelling. Certainly the most famous kind of modelling in Botswana and the second most popular type of modelling in the world, runway modelling is the art of strutting down a ramp.

The best runway models have an air of confidence and indifference that cannot be matched. These gorgeous men and women walk effortlessly, slowly and like they have no-where-to-go-that-should-be-of-any-interest-to-you-attitude and at the same time they can sell clothes.

‘’I did runway fashion shows and commercial bill boards with various organizations through an agency called Empire. Miserably so, I never got to reap from what I sow. I was never told I will come across this kind of manipulation. At the time, you wouldn’t question anything because you wanted this so much. At least, that was what we were told, that we are given exposure. One important element I failed was learning the environment before judging it. I was young, naïve and didn’t know much about the industry,’’ he said.

According to Chabwe, agencies in Botswana do not sign models to pay them, they exploit them. ‘‘I wanted to learn, not really to earn. So doing the bill boards came at the time I was not so familiar with how things are done, and I quit being under any agency. I thought if someone signs you under their agency, it means you are worth to be appreciated if not getting paid. I think it was a learning experience, I am now a proud freelance model, and it’s strange but worth it.’’

A registered model under the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development catalogue, Chabwe is given a priority when modelling gigs are availed. He participated in President Competitions and netted himself the third spot on his first attempt in 2017, Masa Square Hotel Fashion Show in 2017 and 2019, as well as JB and Choppies Winter Fashion show at Game City Rooftop.

‘‘I got a chance to partake in Johannesburg at the famous Fashion without Borders fashion show, which was my first international gig as well. The event was also held here and I also played a part in it,’’ he said. Chabwe is currently the face of Tlatlana Clothing label, an indigenous clothing brand formed by three young Batswana with the inspiration and determination to promote and boost cultural heritage as Batswana.

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Self-taught fashion designer speaks

26th July 2022

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.

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Gospel awards re-organised

26th July 2022

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.

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Makhadzi, Master KG invade Thamaga

18th July 2022

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.

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