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Resurrection of Miss Universe Botswana

MISS UNIVERSE 1999-Mpule Kwelagobe

The first and last time Miss Universe Botswana was won, was when Mpule Kwelagobe left everyone without a doubt that she was the rightful owner of the crown in 1999’s Miss Universe pageant.

Her win was significant for both Miss Universe Botswana organisers and Botswana as a country, as it put the country on the map with an influx of investors and tourists made a beeline for Botswana.

That was years ago. Miss Universe Botswana has since lagged behind severely, and it has cost the organisation not only money/funding but also its once revered reputation of producing crowned beauties.There have been significant gaps in Botswana’s participation in Miss Universe.

Between 2002 and 2003, Botswana did not participate in the much acclaimed beauty pageant until 2004, when they sent Miss Universe Botswana 2004, Icho Keolotswe, to Ecuador. Miss Universe Botswana’s absence was felt yet again for six years after 2004.

In 2010, an international fashion company domicile in Botswana, Mos Syde Worldwide Entertainment Group, took over and Tirelo Ramasedi was crowned Miss Universe Botswana, representing Botswana in Las Vegas. The years 2011, 2012 and 2013 saw Larona Kgabo, Sheila Molelekwa, and Tsoane Macheng crowned respectively before the pageant went AWOL once again.

This year marks another possible six years since Botswana has participated in Miss Universe. Botswana’s absence in the competitions have been attributed to internal fights within the Miss Universe Botswana organisation. Some organisers are of the belief that there have been acts of sabotage from certain stakeholders which has led to the many missed opportunities by Miss Universe Botswana.

Safie Sekgwa, the current license holder for Miss Universe Botswana, wants to resurrect the organisation and bring it back to its former glory days. The license holder seems to have a well detailed plan including a budget, on how he will resurrect the organisation.

“Next year Miss Universe should come back. I want to go to the United States of America to re-build our relationship. My dream is to create an environment for women to achieve their goals. The pageant used to talk about the country’s tourism, the diamonds, the deltas as well as our culture and we believe that Botswana has the most beautiful women in the world,” said Sekgwa.

“We want to continue where we stopped. We want our Queens to understand our country, economy and tourism. We want beauty with ambition. We can challenge BITC (Botswana Investment Trade Centre) to teach them about value proposition because at the end of the day they should be able to sell our country.

The last time we did something like this was in 2013 when we took them to Teemane Manufacturing Factory in Serowe to see how a diamond is processed, and how impactful it is in terms of job creation.”To bring something that will bring the excellence out of the pageant, he said they will need a whooping P4 million. He said they have worked with a very small budget which put them at a disadvantage.

“We want a serious budget. South Africa’s pageant is done around that amount. We had organised the pageant with P25 000 and to tell the truth it was not enough. We had to use creativity. We had stakeholders at the time, who were not even willing to support.” said Sekgwa.

“We want to promote Botswana to be recognised globally so that we can also attract investors. So that when investors want to invest in Africa, they should know where to go. Botswana does not have a strategy to sell their country. We are a diamond based country, why can’t we invest in those. P4 million will drive this initiative.”

“I want to do the pageant in such way that we would be promoting our culture with girls competing from different provinces. This is so that they gain confidence by competing from their provinces. We want to do everything from scratch. Our goal is for the pageant to resume. Our women need to stop struggling. MYSC had initially agreed to support us.”

“Government should understand his role and give to Batswana to organise certain events. They should give Batswana a chance, permits and licenses to run these events.”


Death or Divorce – a tough choice for many

24th May 2022

Rebecca* is a woman in her late thirties. She holds her head high and walks with a sway in her steps. There is an air of confidence when she speaks. So when she tells me how her husband has been abusing her throughout their 17 years of marriage, I am taken aback.

“Everyday is a new experience for me. I don’t know what version of husband I’ll meet; the one who will scold me for forgetting to lay out his clothes or the one who will hit me for putting too much salt in the soup,” she says while wiping tears. 17 years is almost two decades. I ask her why she has had to endure all that pain for a long time but she only shakes her head and does not answer.

Like Rebecca, hundreds of women experiencing domestic violence find it difficult to leave. For some, it is for reasons best known to them, for others, they simply do not know why or have the words. People who have not experienced abuse find it unfathomable that survivors stay in their relationships and not leave. It seems almost like they enjoy it. But until an experience has been felt, it is easy to give directives on how to act.

For Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai, it took 6 years to escape the suffocating grip of her abuser. “It was a traumatic experience,” she tells me. “I can tell you this for free; the same intensity used to abuse you is the same intensity used to beg. When he does this, pity begins to set in and you become confused on what to do.”

Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai

I ask Ms. Demilade Lawal, a psychologist from the University of Chester, in an interview, if there is a psychological reason behind this and she affirms.

“For a lot of women, it’s a glimmer of hope that things are going to get better. And that glimmer of hope can be understood when we are aware of the social cycle of abuse. There is a tension phase, an abuse phase and a honeymoon phase. In the honeymoon phase the abuser temporarily changes his ways and alters the victim’s decision to leave. Then the tension starts and then abuse follows.”

Another reason women remain entangled with their abusers is the fear of the unknown, the unclear reality of what would be after leaving.

“The truth is, as much as this person abuses them, there is an emotional connection. They love this person, there is a traumatic attachment whether they are aware of it or not. It is not the best love environment but it doesn’t change the fact that this is how they feel about the person that abuses them. So the thought of starting afresh without this person whom they have grown to love despite the abuse is just as frightening,” Ms Lawal says.

Although this may sound like an unjustifiable reason to some who have not walked this path, Ms. Rahmatulai agrees.

“In my case, I loved him very much. I could not imagine going to tell my family members or friends that the man I loved started hitting me as early as a month into our marriage. I was embarrassed. So I stayed back, hoping it would get better,” she says.

Research shows that one of the many reasons why women remain in abusive marriages is a lack of income which results in total financial dependency on the abuser. Could this be a strategy to trap the victim in an abusive cycle?

“While I was married, my husband would give me very little housekeeping money. He knew I did not have a job and the money would be insufficient but I could not say a word. I had to feed my children. If I complained I would get beaten. He provided for everything in the house, what authority did I have to question him,” Ms Rahmatulai says to me.

I ask Rebecca if she has a job and she says no. She mentions she’s an interior decorator but she barely gets offers. When she does, her husband collects everything.

A major factor for avoiding abusive marriages is to identify red flags. However, these flags are sometimes mistaken for natural behavioural traits. In Ms Rahmatulai’s case, she tells me she noticed her husband was quick tempered and ill mannered before marriage however she waved them aside as he had never hit her during courtship.

How then can abuse survivors find the courage to leave?

“The decision to leave is a process, it takes a shift in perspective – realising that you deserve better and that your kids deserve to grow in a healthy home where they don’t learn to be abusers or think it’s okay to be abused,” Ms Lawal says.

“When I pack my bags to leave, my husband would hit me. When I unpack, he would hit me. I started going to school to get a degree and then later I started trading. When I had what seemed like enough then (N80,000/ $192), I left my husband regardless of the worst that could happen. I realised if I stayed long enough, I would be dead,” Ms Rahmatulai says.

“It’s been 20 years since I left. I’m 51 and a lawyer now. I have dedicated my life to helping women in abusive marriages leave. So many men have called me a home breaker but I say it’s better to break a home and save a life.”

*Rebecca has asked to stay anonymous by using a pseudonym.

Claire Mom is a Nigerian journalist and an advocate for human rights.
Twitter: speakclairely

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7 Days to go before As One Music Concert

24th May 2022

Multitudes of music lovers are expected to throng Francistown’s Obert Itani Chilume Stadium for the highly anticipated As One Music concert next weekend.

Updating WeekendLife on the preparations of the event, Kesego Okie said the preparations for the show are going well and they are working around the clock to make sure that they fulfill all logistics that need to be concluded. She said, ATI has been working hard alongside the featured artists to give Batswana the best experience at concert.

She said that the concert has been accepted well by Batswana and they are very happy with the ticket sales. ”But of course we are looking forward to more ticket sales as more people are showing more interest in being part of this historic event and we are grateful to all our partners and sponsors.”

She appealed to the Francistown Business Community to come on board and support the initiative as it’s a concert for the people. Okie said Francistown was chosen for a reason as they believe it is a gate way to a number of other strategic places in Botswana like Maun, Orapa, Phikwe and Kasane.

“We also felt that since the city has been greatly affected by COVID-19 an event of this magnitude was befitting to be held in Francistown so that we can also play our role in uplifting the socio-economic livelihood hence we believe it is vital for the business community of Francistown to embrace us so that collectively we can contribute meaningfully together as one to the community of Francistown”.

She indicated that they have a large number of artists particularly from Francistown that have shown interest during the show activation and other artists that have collaborated with ATI in the past and those that have contributed in the growth of his music, and it would be very difficult for them to fulfil the mandate of the show without support particularly from the corporate community in Francistown.

Tickets for the event are sold at P50 kids, P150 general, 500 VIP silver circle and VVIP for P1500. All tickets are sold at all Liquarama Outlets across the country.

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Phakalane soars to new heights

24th May 2022

Founded 30 years ago by David Magang, Phakalane Estates came from humble beginnings to gradually expand into developing one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the country which attract high income dwellers.

When the development began in the early 90s the estate was to be developed into 13 phases. It is then that a decision was taken by the developers to come up with plans that would be appealing to certain groups of the society.

Phakalane Estates continues to make its mark in the property development space, this year, they have managed to invests over P45 million on major renovations to the Golf Estate properties namely the hotel, golf course, and conference center.

Already the company has erected 84 single and double bedroom apartments which commenced early this year. The construction of these new apartments has been set for Peto Estates, a gated community within the Phakalane neighborhood strategically placed a stone’s throw away from multiple shopping centres such as Mowana Park and Acacia Mall.

“We want the best for our clients that is why even in Peto, we have various apartments for every one and also bearing in mind that the people should be not far from the complex,” Phakalane Estates’ Lesang Magang said in an interview.

So far the roads tarring has started at Sebote estate which is part of the estate expansion, it is expected that even things electrically will get handed to the Botswana Power Corporation which will be the last stage plus the lights on the streets. “In terms of infrastructure we don’t compromise we ensure that it is world class so that we don’t disappoint our clients. Those that brought houses earlier when they sell them it comes at a profit.”

Following the success of the launch of Peto Estates back in 2014, when over 300 plots ranging in cost from roughly P300, 000 to P1.4m were immediately sold out with a high surplus of demand, Phakalane Estates boasts strong confidence in the market demand for new apartments in the area.

The apartments are set to follow the trend of the estates with state of the art modern designs and facilities that will unequivocally catch the eye of professionals in the market for a smaller yet upscale rental property in Gaborone. Phakalane Estates CEO Subramaniam Parthiban has expressed plans for the creation of an all-new industrial park in Phakalane aiming to expand and consolidate the existing industrial strength the community already boasts.

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