I recently was taken aback, though I probably shouldn’t have been, to have one more person ask me “Botswana? Where is that? In South Africa you say, oh Southern Africa I see”. I have been having this conversation for as long as I have travelled the region and world as a culture bandit masquerading as a poet.
Post Mma Ramotswe and the increased sales of bush tea in the UK as well as the establishment of BEDIA and the Tourism Board, not to mention that fancy ad with the Face of Africa contestants and the advent of Leteise as the nouveau fabric for the catwalks, I thought it was a done deal. Everyone knows who and where we are, right? Well not quite, so I thought I would take the game to them. Introduce them (and you) to some local faces that are stirring up a storm in all the corners of the world where they set foot.
Batswana women have always been powerful creatures who in my opinion choose (perhaps as the lesser evil - I will leave the debates to gender development academics) to play a seemingly secondary but actually complimentary role to the men in our lives, this as a nod to the cultural establishment, a lets-do-it-your way-first kind of approach. Yet we have never failed in our duty to step up to the plate and bring the bogobe home when life called for it. While the men worked in the South African mines for years at a time, we went out in the mid day sun to plough the field with child on our back – and managed to compose an entire song about it while we were at it.
Born multi taskers, we pound sorghum and raise young boys into the next generation of men and girls into young women who perfect the art of adapting to their environment. I have personally engaged with most of the women on the list below either as an admirer of, mentor to, a trainer of, a colleague alongside or fellow traveler in the journey to self discovery and their work speaks to the higher ideals to which we should all aspire. As an acknowledgement of this generation of wonder women (and girls) today my thoughts are nothing more than a list of who to keep an eye out for. Although the list is not exhaustive take the time to look up the following amazing, multi talented young Batswana women many of whom are on facebook, LinkedIn etc and are generally googllable – thank you Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
(in no particular order)
Kaone Kario – Face of Africa 2005 winner, international model;
Mpule Kwelagobe – Miss Universe 1999, model, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador;
Kudzani Moswela – model, international actress;
Lepang Ferguson –lifestyle consultant, international enterpreneur;
Lu Anne Alexander – lawyer, dancer, choreographer;
Tshepo Ntshole – MC, Radio presenter;
Mpho Laing – fashion editor and stylist, event conceptualist and coordinator;
Nature Inger – poet, singer, model;
Koketso Chiepe - international designer;
Emma Wareus – storyteller, dancer, model, Miss World 1st princess 2010;
Tjipo Keaikitse – award winning jewelry designer;
Boipelo Seleke – fine artist, tattooist, entrepreneur, radio presenter, poet;
Petula Khulmann – dancer, radio presenter;
Lebogang Akanyang – model, basketball player, vocalist;
Samantha Mogwe – Pop star winner, vocalist, instrumentalist;
Andreattah Chuma – IT Auditor, poet;
Mandisa Mabuthoe – artist, performance poet;
Amantle Montsho -commonwealth games gold medalist athlete;
Moratiwa Molema – recording artist, poet, vocalist, film maker;
Ndiyapo Machacha – theatre practitioner; Tebby Gasennelwe – Survivor Africa winner, journalist, entrepreneur;
Oratile Jazzelle Kebakile – MC, radio presenter, entrepreneur;
Maxy – traditional vocalist and dancer;
Tshepiso Gower - Allan Gray Fellow, Poet, up and coming Economist;
Angela Kerrison - International Soprano;
Boikanyo Peke - Accountant, karateka, Gym owner and personal instructor;
Tracy Bortsie - saxophonist;
Bogolo Kenewendo - macroeconomist.
*bogobe - a hard porridge made from pounded, sometimes fermented, sorghum.