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.’’
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.