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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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WeekendLife

The King’s journal 

23rd November 2021
Kgafela Kgafela II

This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.

The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.

The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.

The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.   

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WeekendLife

Gospel concerts make a comeback

16th November 2021
Bishop Benjamin Dube

Hailed for being the prime gospel concert after the Covid-19 pandemic had put events to a halt, Golden Relic, in conjunction with Sweet Brands, recently unveiled the Arise and Worship Concert, Botswana. The show marks the return of worshippers and fans to enjoy music and worship together after what seemed like “cooler box” events were taking over the entertainment scene. 

The concert to be held on December 11th 2021, at the Molapo Showcase, has a packed lineup with the Headlining acts being Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela from South Africa and Botswana’s very own Obakeng Sengwaketse. More international acts from Nigeria and Ghana are also expected to grace the event. The show organizers have invested an effort in diversifying the lineup with live performances. 

The promoter of the Arise and Worship Concert, David “DVD” Abram revealed in an overview of the event that; “We have lost a lot of loved ones this year, and when that happens, one’s spirit goes down, and we need a light to ground us once more, to heal our souls. Therefore, the two main purposes of this event are to do the work of God and, secondly, to make sure that we nurture and develop talent in Botswana. With challenges that come up with events of such magnitude, the team and I have been committed to seeking guidance from God through having night prayers.” 

Abram added that as promoters, they usually have a bias towards already established artists, thus neglecting the upcoming ones and wanting to change that. “We approached the Melody Gospel TV Show since we aim at nurturing new talent and agreed on having one of the winners as a headliner for the event to allow them to share the stage with gospel giants so that they are exposed to the industry. This resulted in securing the Second Winner of the Melody Gospel TV show; Thabiso Mafoko as a local headlining act.”

The concert also aims at celebrating a Motswana. Multi-Award Winner; with the most recent title; BOMU Best Traditional Gospel under his belt, also best known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, Obakeng Sengwaketse enthusiastically said, “I want to thank the organizers of the Arise and Worship concert, it means a lot to me after recently winning two awards that are currently the highlight of my career.

I regard this as a great revival because the Covid-19 pandemic has muffled events such as this. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the great Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela and more artists from Nigeria and Ghana. Sengwaketsi urged Batswana to come and witness the greatness of the Lord as their lives will never be the same.”

Tickets are selling like fat cakes with VVIP tickets having only five tickets remaining; the VVIP tickets include rounder access backstage to all the performing artists. The event will also comprise a seated Gold Circle Ticket, which accounts for 50% of revellers to allow for easier enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and avoid a potential stampede.

In a bid to entice merrymakers to buy tickets, the promoters have come up with a layby strategy and buying tickets on an instalment basis for the attendees to be able to buy their tickets since the COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Batswana in financial ruin but having the interest to attend the event.

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WeekendLife

Fame vs Mental health

9th November 2021
Lizibo

One can only imagine what is like being in the public eye. It is not a walk in the park; and not as easy as people might think it is because of the pressure from the public. Celebrities or influencers are perceived to be perfect, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect parents, financially stable, healthy, and always smiling and patient with everyone – Is this for real?

However, when people’s expectations of celebrities are not met, the same celebrities are often victimized, body shamed, or blamed, fairly or unfairly. As a result of them not having a personal life, they are often scrutinized in all aspects of their lives; their lives are aired for the public to see and judge. Celebrities are often extra careful about everything that they do, they have to go an extra mile as compared to how ordinary people live their lives.

To understanding this experiences by public figures, this reporter made a case study of Mr Lizibo Gran Mabutho, the firstborn in his family with only one sibling, his younger brother. Lizibo describes himself as a simple Kalanga guy who was chosen by music and did not choose music.

He said being raised by his mother and grandmother, he grew up surrounded by music from birth. Lizibo said his grandmother was a religious person who held church services at their house in Zwenshambe, “for me singing was from Monday to Sunday. I was not like any ordinary child who only sang at church on Sundays or sometimes in school assembly, for me it was a daily thing. My mother was also a talented dancer in our village that is what I mean when I say I did not choose music, but music chose me.”

Lizibo said though he grew up surrounded by music, it was hard for his parents to accept the path he has chosen to be a musician. Lizibo said he had to prove to his parents that music was his passion and that it could pay the bills like any other profession. He said eventually they saw his passion for music and supported him.

Lizibo said being exposed to music from a tender age made him venture into the music career from a tender age. He said he was part of the Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) choir, Lizibo said being in the public eye for the longest time has taught him that he is living for the people and that he does not have a life. He said the very society that is watching him has so much expectation for him and that means he has to conduct himself in a good manner because people are looking up to him.

Lizibo said he understands the saying that great power comes with great responsibility, “when people see me, they see a role model. I realize and understand that people are and have been modelling me even when I was not aware of it, I know of six mothers who have named their sons after me because they felt that I inspire them somehow.”

He said he has accepted his fate that he will never have a normal life because people are looking unto him. He said he is grateful to be in the public on a positive note by bringing hope to the people because he has always wanted to be part of people’s solutions and not their problems.

He said, “people should understand that our careers are our calling. One needs to be spiritually connected to their calling as an artist. The most rewarding part about being in the public for me is not about payment but about being the solution to someone’s problem.”

Lizibo said the greatest challenge that he has ever faced about being in the public eye has been the issue of trust, not able to know which friends are genuine and which ones are not. He said as a way of avoiding fake friends he has always kept his four close friends who have been there for him through thick and thin. Lizibo said being close to his family has also helped him as they have been his strength when things were not going well for him, “most of the time people say we change when we taste fame. That is not necessarily true because people are the ones who changed when we became famous. People always want something from us, nothing is ever genuine with people and that is why I chose to keep my circle very small.”

Lizibo said as much as he travels a lot because of the nature of his work because it is naturally demanding, he said he always ensures that he creates time for his family. He said that at home he is Lizibo who is sent to do errands, he is Lizibo the son, not a celebrity.

He said there is a lot of pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, “the public puts so much pressure on us mostly about the material lifestyle they portray us to have. We are often compared with South African celebrities, but people fail to understand that we are two different countries. Most people fell into the trap and are living above their means resulting in them living in debt. I often tell youngsters not to fall into that trap of being tempted to live life above their means.”

The advice Lizibo gave to upcoming celebrities was that they should know that being in the public is not about them, but it is about the people. He said, “one of my mentors once asked me if I make music about myself or the people. He said I need to make music for the people because it is my responsibility to feed them with what they need, he said they might not even be able to know that they have a need but that I need to identify that need and meet it. Our responsibility is to serve people what they need, our music is to feed people’s hunger. My music is about love, I feed people love.”

Lizibo said it is important for celebrities to seek counselling and take care of their mental health, he said he has been investing in his mental health for years because he understands the importance of mental health especially when one is in the public.

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