Coronavirus that has been sweeping plans and events across the entire world really ruined the once thought promising 2020. The novel virus has affected many plans for many people, and many had goals that had to be postponed saving the lives of several people.
Things have taken a pause too here in Botswana, and for one of the most recognized pageants in the country Miss Botswana, it has been a terrifying experience. Not only did the pandemic affect the Miss Botswana organization, the queen herself Oweditse Phirinyane felt the heat.
With the advent of the pandemic, re-evaluation of priorities swept across the government, parastatals and private sector as the country went into prevention and survival mode and as such the plans that had been in place have since taken a seat back, Phirinyane told Weekend Life in an exclusive interview this week.
Phirinyane stressed that the COVID-19 did not take only an emotional toll but physiological and financial strain as well. ‘’All of these were not in a positive way. I had to take a step back and create a life that I don’t have to routinely escape from bearing in mind that I am the queen, I am Miss Botswana. I always have to take care of self before anything else and by self I mean my inner being, soul, as well as my mental state. No good can come from me if I am not fine,’’ she said.
When crowned Miss Botswana 2019/2020 at the ailing mining township of Selibe Phikwe in September last year, Phirinyane was announced as an ambassador of the Selibe-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU). SPEDU is an investment promotion company owned by the Government of Botswana tasked to coordinate investment promotion and economic diversification in the SPEDU economic region.
‘’You would have realized that SPEDU undertook to support the Miss Botswana project and as such, I was the first queen to be crowned in Selibe-Phikwe. The intention was always to utilize the platform that is Miss Botswana through affiliation of the Miss World organization to bring to the fore the investment opportunities available in the SPEDU region.
This was done while promoting some of the cultural enterprises in the region, of prominence being the basketry that is present in the area. I couldn’t realize half of these projects because of the virus that swept plans that were initially put in place.’’
The Miss Botswana crown is meant to provide a platform from which the reigning queen can interact with the society both in influential and leadership positions. Miss Botswana is also supposed to inspire many with her presence. However, although the COVID-19 pandemic crushed her reign, Phirinyane achieved few of her duties.
‘’The first quarter of my reign falls in 2019, from the day I was crowned I started preparing for Miss World until the finale which was in December in London. The rest of my reign falls in 2020 and I am proud of myself to have been able to donate school shoes at Tsholofelong Children and Youth Trust, and I imparted some skills on them.
I was an amazing experience to get to see how some people in our country live and I would continue this noble gesture post my reign. I was also involved in sanitary pads donation in Mochudi with our prominent radio host Ausi Kgomotso as well as 240 face masks in Serowe. Some dreams are better manifested in another brain, which is the beauty of collaboration. Frankly, the reign of Miss Botswana 2019/2020 has been greatly challenged by the COVID-19 contagion.’’
Quizzed on why her presence on social media seems darkened, Phirinyane was quick to jump in and told WeekendLife that ‘’with the advent of the digital age of social media, it has become quite common that we have all seemingly become experts and opinion leaders on all matters that may come up and trend.
I do not believe that being visible on social media and expressing an opinion on issues, some of which may require relevant expertise and authority. It was made clear that we should allow for the correct information to come from official authorized pages.’’
The queen has been busy uploading videos raising awareness about COVID-19 contagion, when most of you thought she is just absent on social media. Well, Weekend Life was first to be told that most of these videos were available on her page’s stories, when none of you knew.
‘’I put out a video on the page, shared official announcements on Facebook stories since that’s where I get more audience. I use hashtags when uploading my pictures on all my social media accounts, and at one point, I went live on Instagram with Miss World Uganda 2019 and Man of the World Namibia 2020 to raise awareness and discussed the effects of COVID-19 in our countries.
I am not the best with social media because I believe in living my life from time to time to put up something it comes with the title and people’s expectations. I am more of a doer than a talker,’’ Phirinyane said. Well, a question that was off record but I feel deserves to be on record, Miss Botswana has someone she looks up to. And to my surprise, it’s someone we all have a high regard for.
‘’She had to be one from home which I can relate to, Emma Wareus. To this day we haven’t met but she encouraged me every time I was at Miss World competitions in London. You become more peaceful, positive and harmonic when you do not react to people that use you as a mirror of their self-doubt and hate that, that is Emma Wareus.’’
After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.
On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.
The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.
Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.
The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.
At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.
“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”
The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.
The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.
The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.
However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.
Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.
Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.
“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.
“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”
Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.
Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.
The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.
Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.
Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)
Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.
“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”
For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”
“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.
Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.
“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.
When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.