“Our Africa by Merck Foundation”
Fashion and Art can be used as powerful tools to address and raise awareness on pressing social and health issues in Africa and beyond, Merck Foundation CEO Senator Dr Rasha Kelej has said.
Speaking during the eighth episode of their TV programme ‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ last Saturday, Dr Kelej said fashion and art have a purpose beyond just entertainment and looking good.
“We must make the most out of these platforms to advocate for the causes we work towards every day. “Merck Foundation works closely with media and art communities across Africa to address and raise awareness on sensitive social and health issues such as diabetes, breaking infertility stigma, ending child marriage, stopping FGM, stopping GBV, supporting girl education and women’s empowerment and many more.
“Together, we can be the voice of the voiceless and bring about a positive change in our communities that will lead to a culture shift in Africa,” she said.
Dr Kelej also said young people have numerous untapped capabilities that if unleashed can empower and enable them to lead the sustainable development and green environmental agenda for their countries, encourage others to lead a sustainable lifestyle and adapt to the impact of climate change.
She also said their aim is to raise awareness about sustainability and environmental protection through their ‘Fashion and Art with Purpose’ community.
“I am happy to bring to you the eighth episode of ‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’, with this episode we aim to raise awareness about sustainability and environmental protection through our ‘Fashion and Art with Purpose’ community. I am very happy that this episode was aired close to World Environment Day 2022 which is observed on 5th June every year,” she said.
Merck Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany. The TV programme’s eighth episode addressed the important topic of “Sustainability is a Shared Responsibility”. Watch the Eighth Episode here: https://youtu.be/hFIHJ39Wd98
The episode featured Nana Kwabena Anoff, African Artist in Sustainable Art, who displayed his unique and remarkable art pieces made up of sustainable materials; Dr Sabrina Devi Ramamy Iranah, Director of Fashion and Design Institute, Mauritius and Jean Luc Emile, Managing Editor, Defimedia Group, Mauritius.
Young Fashion Designers from Mauritius – Desire Cedric Vincent and Deena Appaddo also featured showcased their recyclable fashion designs with messages on environmental sustainability during this episode.
Previous episodes have addressed diabetes prevention, breaking infertility stigma, supporting girl education, promoting a healthy lifestyle, ending female genital mutilation (FGM), and Coronavirus health awareness.
‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ is a pan African TV programme that is conceptualised, produced, directed, and co-hosted by Dr Kelej, to feature fashion designers, singers, and prominent guests from various domains with the aim to raise awareness and create a culture shift across Africa. The show is co-hosted by Brian Mulondo from Uganda.
“’Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ has been receiving an overwhelming response from our viewers who watch the show on TV. Our social media is also flooded with lovely messages from our followers across the globe.
All this attention is very valuable and inspiring to do more and to do better. I am certain the upcoming episodes will also be received well”, added Dr Kelej.
Globally, the textile and clothing sector is one of the largest segments of the economy, contributing almost $2.4 trillion to manufacturing and employing close to 300 million people across the world.
Fashion makes a sizeable contribution to climate change. The fashion industry accounts for about 8-10 percent of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20 percent of wastewater. This means that the fashion industry consumes more energy than both aviation and shipping combined.
Sustainable Fashion is a term for clothes that are created and consumed in a way that can be, quite literally, sustained, while protecting both the environment and those producing garments.
This is the reason cutting CO2 emissions, addressing overproduction, reducing pollution and waste, supporting biodiversity, and ensuring that garment workers are paid a fair wage and have safe working conditions, are all crucial to the scope of sustainability.
“Sustainable Fashion is a term that is increasingly used these days, as we all become aware of the serious environmental impact of our clothes. I feel so proud that the local fashion industry across Africa is exploring new sustainable solutions, and tapping into more traditional ones, that will enable them financially and protect the environment” added Dr Kelej.
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Dr Lame Pusetso comes to writerâ€™s rescue
Multi award winning author of fifteen (15) books, Dr Lame Pusetso has put together a platform to empower local writers. Dr Pusetso is a President and Chairperson of the Executive Board of Kasapa Society.
She is also the Managing Director of Poeticblood Publishers and an owner of an online bookstore dubbed Mind and Soul Bookstores. Dr Pusetso has reiterated her commitment to helping upcoming authors, writers and poets in establishing their crafts and capitalizing on them.
In an exclusive interview this week, she said that she has put together a platform dubbed Botswana Literature Awards, which have fourteen categories.
When quizzed on what the awards stand for, Dr Pusetso said â€śwriting as a form of art in Botswana is a skill that many have and have always been exploring. As a publisher, I have met different writers from all walks of life and some indicating that there isnâ€™t enough motivation to keep going.â€ť
In Botswana and according to the writer, there has been a limited representation of appreciation of authors. This is despite their efforts year in year out.
The whole intention of these awards really is to honor and recognize the hard work that local authors put in, when doing what they know best (writing).
â€śThis is a way of appreciating their creativity and we will be doing this across all genres. The awards also act as a motivational tool to young writers who still have dreams of becoming best selling authors. Quite frankly, their works are of great importance and we cannot afford to let that slide like that.â€ť
Dr Pusetso emphasized that all the winners will walk away with an award, a certificate and complimentary gifts to take home. â€śThe two winners of Best Overall Author and Best Young Author will in addition receive book publication deals which includes book distribution and marketing for a year.
She gave a clearer picture of how authors can be a part of the literature awards.
â€śThe awards are open to every author from the age of 7, must be a Motswana, and their book should have been published before or by 2022. For authors with more than one book, they are allowed to compete with only one book for one category, and different books for different categories.â€ť
The young writer pinned hope on institutional collaborations, in order to stage the second edition of the awards next year, saying â€śWe believe with these awards, the different institutions and stakeholders will show interest in helping nurture the literature scenario in Botswana.â€ť
â€śIt will also give authors hope and light to keep writing and penning down their stories for the benefit of all. We anticipate to host the next edition in 2024 with assistance from all interested parties.â€ť
THE LITERATURE AWARDS CATEGORIES
Dr Pusetso stressed that there are fourteen (14) categories, and they are: Religious or Faith Based Book, Poetry Book, Childrenâ€™s Book, Multi-lingual Writer, Best Collaboration, Setswana Novel, English Novel, Motivational Book, Best Young Author (7-13), Overall Best Author, Best Theory, Best Online Writer, Best Media Writer (Honor Award) and Honor Award (Long Serving Best Author).
EXPLAINING SPECIAL AWARDS
Best Media and Honor Award, Dr Pusetso said are not based on submissions but nomination by the committee. â€śFor Honor Award, we want to appreciate the individual who has inspired the Botswana writing scenario over the years and even assisted numerous authors as both a writer and a community leader.â€ť
The Best Media Writer award is meant to appreciate a journalist who is actively taking part in appreciating and helping authors in marketing, advertising and affording them a platform to showcase their works through their writing skills.
Meanwhile, the Botswana Literature Awards will be held on the 29th April and they are partially sponsored through the literacy grant. This is a grant under the Botswana National Library Services which falls under the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture.
Womenâ€™s Awards hit the ground running
The second edition of the much-anticipated Womenâ€™s Awards Botswana will be going down on the 27th May 2023 in Gaborone at Travel Lodge. The organizers of the prestigious awards have announced finalists, with three nominees per category.
Womenâ€™s Awards Botswana is established to empower women and celebrate them from all walks of life and across sectors. The awards raise awareness for women to be granted equal participation, particularly in decision-making positions, as one way of breaking the gender bias.
They also seek to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women from diverse industries in Botswana. Taking a closer look at the categories, He for She award celebrates and shines a light on men who stand and support women.
These are men who advocate for inclusion of women, men who stand against GBV and men who promote any service that can better women life. Her Abilities award looks into women who have shown determination to keep moving and achieve any goal they have set for themselves, regardless of their disability.
Other awards are self-explanatory. They celebrate women in arts, culture and entertainment, agriculture, creativity, innovation and technology, tourism and hospitality, community impact as well as organization supporting women.
ORGANIZER SPEAKS ON CRITERIA USED
When speaking in an interview, Founder and Director of Womenâ€™s Awards Botswana, Bofelo Zebe, said in their first edition, they had fifteen categories, which was enough for a piloting project.
â€śBut we left out many industries or lines of work. After the event, we received reviews and suggestions, and there was an intensive evaluation that led to us increasing the categories to eighteen for this second edition.â€ť
He said the nominees were voted in by the public, adding that the finalists were judged by a panel with the support of votes from their supporters.
When shedding light on what winners take home, Zebe indicated that there is an award trophy, certificate and goodie bags for all categories but â€śwe are working to have financial sponsors jump on board so that winners and nominees can receive monetary incentives. We are also busy at work trying to retain our previous sponsors.â€ť
THE 2023 WOMENâ€™S AWARDS BOTSWANA NOMINEES
HE FOR SHE AWARD
Desmond Lunga, Tlhabo Kgosiemang and Christopher Seagateng
BEST WOMAN IN ARTS, CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ditshupo Mosoboloko, Thanolo Keutlwile and Seneo Mabengano
HER ABILITIES AWARD
Koketso Seleke, Goabo Kgasa and Mumsie Odirile
SPORTS WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Naledi Marape, Ouname Mhotsha and Keamogetse Kenosi
WOMAN FASHION DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Montle Rantatana, Lesedi Matlapeng and Trudy Bakwena
BEST WOMAN IN AGRICULTURE
Nomathemba Masuku, Basadi Molelekeng and Keolebogile Keabetswe
BEST WOMAN IN CREATIVITY, INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Marang Mbaakanyi, Didintle Moreki and Thandeka Palai
BEST WOMAN IN TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY
Masego Keleadile, Wapula Matshambane and Tshepo Phokoje
YOUNG WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Bridget Gothaang, Waone Makobo and Kimberly Matheakgomo
WOMAN OWNED SME BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Suits Africa, Nomlu Nail Bar and Sunflower Desserts
BEST WOMAN OWNED BUSINESS
Prezlin Clothing and Dawn Bell Academy
FEMALE MUSIC ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Mpho Sebina, Dato Seiko and Priscilla K
BEST ORGANIZATION SUPPORTING WOMEN
Sekao Foundation, The Fighters Support Group and Single Mothers Living with HIV
BEST WOMAN WITH COMMUNITY IMPACT
Lebopo Bulayani, Nanzelela Chaitezvi and Kebadile Wasenda
MEDIA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Poppy Sello, Keikantse Shumba and Kedi Lezozo
FAVOURITE PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Marang Selolwane, Palesa Molefe and Masi Sithole
BEST WOMAN IN LEADERSHIP
Naseem Lahri, Neo Bogatsu and Lily Rakorong