Having spent the better part of the year deciding on where to go for my spiritual uplifting, reflection, soul searching and resting my body from the tight and rigorous schedule, I decided to once again travel to the West African city of Lagos, for a date with Senior Prophet Tomitope Balogun Joshua aka The Man of God.
Although I am a regular visitor there and I can claim to some extent to know the place very well, what impressed me most this time was the extraordinary measures that the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) had put in place to make the stay of the pilgrims enjoyable.
In simple terms SCOAN has turned around 360 degrees in improving its daily service to the visitors. The Martyrs are extraordinarily friendly from the protocol officers who receive their visitors at the point of entry Mohamed Murtala airport to drivers who have mastered the art of manoeuvring around the over congested Lagos traffic in a convoy without missing each other, kitchen staff who cook delicious meals and ensure visitors are well cared for throughout the day and the cleaners who sweep clean so much that one could find a needle on the floor.
Others are security personnel who ensure the safety of pilgrims, ushers who take you to any place and, or attend to your needs, coordinators who are assigned to each hostel block for ease of reference and improvement of communication between the church administration and to evangelists and the spiritual leader himself, Senior Prophet TB Joshua purely to ensure the comfort and safety of the guests.
Although the place is visited by hundreds of visitors in any given day who come with all sorts of life challenges, one does not need to worry about hygiene as the church premises, be it the courtyard, passages, hostel blocks, dining halls or ablution facilities, are kept sparkling clean around the clock. Those who watch both live televised and recorded emmanuel.tv transmissions will attest to the fact that they have seen how quickly the floor is cleaned as soon as the viewers have seen whatever would have been used as exhibit by those being delivered.
Forget about the fact that some of the hostel blocks look like a boarding school hostel hall- they have many beds and still leave enough space for residents to move around. All hostel halls no matter their size are well ventilated with fitted air-conditioners placed at strategic points.
Based on this one may come up with a different view and, or understanding on why visitors are accommodated that way. My spiritual understanding is that, although pilgrims go to SCOAN for different reasons which include but not limited to Spiritual uplifting and drawing nearer to their Creator in a conducive atmosphere, in Christ there are no boundaries as such there is the need to widen his scope by meeting other nationals.
Contrary to some talk, what comes out clearly before the multitudes who attend the SCOAN church sessions inside the Arena of Liberty and overflow per any given time, is SCOAN is not a threat to any congregation around the world whose members, whether individually or as a group, decide to visit Prophet TB Joshua for their healing, deliverance and or salvation.
The praise and worship
The praise and worship session is simply the best moment for any visitor as it prepares you for the day. The music is very lively, performed by a professional resident band- who sings all types of songs from praise songs on any rhymes from reggae to soul and so on and so forth. The band is universal and is composed of highly professional artists of different nationals, from the host country of Nigeria, South Africa, USA, etc. it is a true reflection of Psalms 150 that states that one must Praise God in his temple and praise him with trumpets, drums and dancing.
The Prayer Mountain
Visiting SCOAN will be incomplete without a visit to the Prayer Mountain. Though still under construction, it is open for church visitors to go and draw nearer to their Creator under a peaceful atmosphere. The prayer mountain is simply TB Joshua’s vision, everything is done according to how God directs him. It is a multimillion structure which without doubt is amongst the top Nigerian foreign currency earners which attracts tourists from different countries.
The respective residences at the prayer mountain are different, there is the presidential suite, private apartments, which are not fitted with air conditioning, but TB Joshua himself being someone who likes nature, has ordered that they should be built in such a way that the apartments use nature for cooling as the rooms are surrounding the 5-metre deep pond which adds glamour and colour to the area. The pond is full of fish which is used to feed the pilgrims and is also given free of charge to people who live near the mountain. There is also a helicopter pad for the chopper that ferries visitors who reside there from the airport.
The story of the pond is amazing as well. It started as a small stream within the area where TB started his church after uprooting the trees in the area in order to build the mountain, there was a heavy downpour and within a short time the place was filled with fish. The prayer mountain is built on top of the pond and all pillars holding the massive structure are wood, but inside that wood there is steel or iron structure. The wood is used for amongst others, decoration. This is not an ordinary wood; it absorbs water and gets stronger when wet.
The prayer mountain has two gardens. The first which is an open garden accommodates up to 4000 people per time. The second is usually used by Prophet Joshua for both prayers and live TV coverage, but is also open for the visitors to pray there. The same garden has a library which contains all kinds of books for visitors to relax. The gardens are covered by natural trees which are automatically watered by the pond.
I was one of those who were blessed to give live testimony on Emmanuel.tv. But that came with a price. To this day I still receive correspondences of many well wishers some of whom I have never met who live both locally and other countries asking if I could give them the morning water. I feel I had a good rest to continue with my schedule.
The Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) will host their 37th annual Sports awards this Saturday at Boipuso Hall in Gaborone.
One of the biggest awards for the night will be the Sports men of the year award, which pits together 800m sensation Nigel Amos with Thuso Mosutha of Chess and Ofentse Bakwadi (Karate).
Another big category is the Sportsperson of the year award which see Karabo Sibanda taking on Gavin Mogopa of judo and Thabang Setshogo (Karate). The battle among the three will be interesting with all the three athletes evenly matched.
Karate’s Thato Malunga is nominated for Sports woman of the year award alongside Onkemetse Francis (Chess) and Christine Botlogetswe of athletics. The three ladies are all up in arms pulling the award in different directions and where the award is heading is purely unpredictable.
The men’s kumite team that comprised Oratile Caiphus, Lemogang Koolopile, Thabang Setshogo, Teto Wakwena and Karabo Rantlole have been nominated for the national team of the year award. The karateka’s will battle it out against athletics men’s 4x400m relay team comprising Baboloki Thebe, Amos, Isaac Makwala, Leaname Maotoanong, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Karabo Sibanda in a fierce battle.
Athletics National team coach, Mogomotsi Otsetswe has been nominated for coach of the year award. Otsetswe will be going up against Peter Molefhe of Karate and Thebe Setlalekgosi of boxing for the award, which will go down to the most admirable mentor.
Other nominees include junior female sportsperson, Besa Masaite (Chess), Tshegofatso Tsiang (Tennis) and Galefele Moroko (athletics). Sports administrator: Dorothy Tlagae (judo) and Tshenolo Maruatona (Chess). Non-citizens sports award: Estony Pridge (judo) and Zilwele Khumalo (Rugby).
Sport code of the year: Botswana Cricket Association, Botswana Chess Federation and Botswana Athletics Association. Umpire/referee: Edgar Serole (volleyball), Joshua Bondo (Football) and Gaone Poane (tennis). Group code: BOTESSA and BOPSSA.
Sportsperson with disability (woman): Kedumetse John (Special Olympics), Nonofo Zigwa (Special Olympics) and Goitseone Ramontshonyane (Special Olympics). Sportsperson with disability (man): Keatlaretse Marape (PASSOBO) and Brightfield Shadi (Special Olympics).
From the very moment she was crowned the 2017 Miss Botswana, Nicole Gaelebale was a big bundle of controversy.
But for the queen, that’s the moment she knew that God answers prayers. She knew then that perseverance pays and most of all that dreams do come true.
For most, her win came as a shock, not only because some thought her counterparts deserved it better but because she was the same girl who tried five times without any luck, yet still came back and eventually won. Her story is one of a kind, and her kind is rare.
The 2017 queen hails from Mahalapye and is a daughter amongst two other siblings to a single mother. “Being raised by a strong single mother who I have watched defy all odds to raise three strong children, I would not have been my mother’s child, if I had given up at any point,” she says.
Nicole comes across as a humble, sweet and a gentle young lady. Her height enchanting and she wears the most mesmerising and warm smile that can be felt from a distance.
In an exclusive interview with BG Style the young lady shares that her love for pageantry began when she was still a little girl, “But I never won,” she jokingly laughs.
“It is only in 2008 when my efforts were rewarded when I took away the Miss Ledumang Secondary and in the same year scooped Miss Teen and I never really stopped”.
Her strong-will resonates well with her patience and grit to become what she saw as herself. “My dream is to become ‘Miss World’ and I will not stop until I am there,” she maintains.
Gaelebale draws most of her inspiration and drive from her mother, who she says has been a big part of her growth in the pageantry. “She is not a quitter, and therefore instilled similar values in me.
“There was a year I was confident I was going to take the Miss Botswana title, but I became a princess instead, I was so sad and for sometimes the thoughts of giving up reigned on me.
“I even sold all my shoes, thinking it is all over. But you see, the thing with having a dream, it keeps reminding you why you started in the first place. I had to stand up again and keep on.”
She says at 26, her dream almost faded right in front of her. “The contest usually takes up to 25, but this year it was extended by a year.”
This presented her an opportunity to try again. “I tried again only to realise that it was the very year I would win. Had I given up, I would not be Miss Botswana today,” she says boldly.
In retrospect she says all the time she spent investing in contesting for Miss Botswana while coming out unsuccessful were all worth it. “Preparation is key and only meaningful preparations are rewarded in the end,” she adds.
The queen urges young women and girls to never give up in their dreams no matter how long it takes. “Take that time as a time to prepare, learn and build as much as you can, and trust God’s timing.”
For her, she turned all her losses to gains by preparing for Miss World all the times she did not win. “The aim is to win Miss World, but I realised if I am to attain that far I would first need to win Miss Botswana.
“Through this time I was able to learn that pageantry is not all about looking good and showcasing what you have but more to do with what you will give back to the people.”
During her preparation, she has been able to gather herself, her strengths and most of all ready her NGO for the task ahead. “Now after all these years we are more than ready for Miss World.”
Gaelebale will represent the country at Miss World grand finale which will be held on 18 November 2017. Under her belt she has titles like Miss Botswana first runner up 2015, Miss Earth 2014 and Miss Global Botswana 2012.
“It has been a long walk to victory,” she teases.
Transformation seems to be the right word to describe the new unveiled Avani Hotels and Resorts, formerly known as Gaborone Sun.
Beginning with the reception area, to the exquisite, spacious rooms, there’s been lots of changes made. The foodies will also love the mouth-watering desserts that they have.
Creativity is yet another catchphrase to describe how the newly-opened hotel was designed. The rooms and bathrooms are quite spacious and will make guests feel they are home away from home.
The new-look hotel is a perfect fit for the 21st Century. They say that ‘a design for living space serves as a trendy lifestyle hub with social and private spaces where guests can interact, catch up with friends and meet up for business or enjoy time out’.
Avani also provides Wifi for guests to transact business. Newly appointed General Manager Riaan van Rooyen says Avani is now the capital’s leading leisure and business resort.
“It is clearly evident from the sheer size and scale of the renovation that Avani Hotels & Resorts is committed to cementing relationships with the communities of Gaborone and Botswana as a whole. Avani Gaborone is now the capital’s leading leisure and business resort,” said Rooyen.
He was addressing the media last week, which also had an opportunity to spend a night experience to view the hotel. Believe it or not the experience was super because the P79 million spent on renovations was just worth it.
The interior composes of natural light that gives great effect, while on the other hand there is The Pantry just by the reception side. The Pantry offers fresh quick bites for people on the move, as well as comfort food and fresh fruit juices, barista coffees and many more.
Sometimes, sleeping in a hotel might be embarrassing especially when one’s key won’t unlock the door. This would call for one to take a lift or walk down the stairs if one’s room is upstairs. Well, that is not the case with the new Avani.
There are telephones installed in front of every room as a remedy for such an embarrassment. One would just simply call reception and the key issue would be fixed in an instant. What if your phone battery is dying and you only have a cord without an adapter?
Oh well, Avani will save you the embarrassment. They have such ports for charging phones just with a cord. How lovely! I got to see that portable miracle port and charged my phone. As I switched on, it did not only charge but the bulb on the other side of the bed also lit the room.
That lounge room comprising of that elegant furniture also gives the mind full refreshment. It is where guests can just chill in and enjoy their stay at Avani.
Letso Leipego and his company, Let’z Photography is on a mission to tell a different story about Botswana and her culture.
The local company is currently working on a project dubbed Tell My Story that seeks to tell the story of Batswana through the lens. It will give audiences locally and outside the country a glimpse of the culture and the people of Botswana.
Tell my story will be showcased in an upcoming exhibition in the coming weeks. Leipego, 26, a native of Hukuntsi tells BG Style that the exhibition will be made up of different works of art.
His biography explains that his photography is founded in a curiosity around light: an emphasis on contrast, and a highly stylised manipulation of light and shadow. “This playful illumination (or its reverse) evokes the artist’s motivation for creating the work. Leipego “makes pictures that call attention to things that the observer tends to overlook,” says the biography. His curiosity in light and darkness, the bio says, extends to a curiosity about people living “on the edge of mainstream society”, whose stories and histories are seldom illuminated with the same intensity as is present in his striking photographs. Tell My Story is a provocative series of portraits of people from the Kgalagadi area in Botswana. True to his style, Leipego has photographed all his subjects in “their own environments”. The influence of his extensive work as a fashion and commercial photographer is clearly evident in this collection; however the images, like the characters they display, are layered with hidden qualities and references. “It is this notion of revelation that is so central to Leipego’s photography: through tricks of light and innovative composition strategies, he brings a revelatory tone to a style of ethnographic photography that has often been marred by a shadowy legacy,” the bio says.
Leipego says in an interview that he fell in love with art in Primary school. His exposure to art, especially photography took a different turn when he was introduced to the subject as a module while studying Advertising at Limkokwing University. Initially, he treated photography as a hobby but soon realised that this was something that he enjoyed. And the rest is history.
A member of Thapong Visual Arts Centre, Leipego takes pride in capturing his subjects in potrait form. “After I took the deliberate decision to pursue art, I learnt different tricks of the trade on the internet,” he says. In his early days, he worked at a printing shop as a way of making extra cash in order to buy equipment. Today his company has two employees, including Leipego and a Graphic Designer.
One of his challenges are clients who don’t understand what photography is all about. But he says that all is not lost, as he is trying to educate them. “It is up to us to teach them,” he notes.
The much anticipated annual Thapong Artist of the Year Award is fast approaching with almost a month remaining before the submission date.
The exhibition presents itself as an embodiment of spectacle, wonder, a site of construction of the unfolding new creative concepts—as artists, from diverse artistic disciplines make usurpation of an array of materials both contemporary and junk picked from the environment to propagate astonishingly excellent or breath-taking artworks which are not informed by any specified theme.
The BTC-sponsored art competition is one of the finest and the biggest in the country with many artists taking part. Thapong Visual Arts Centre has challenged artists to present works of higher quality that outline a significant level of maturity in terms of articulation, finishing, presentation and conceptual or thought process. “It is rather concerning that there is a culture of regurgitation or perhaps appropriation of existing ideas that at times points out to our inability to be creative as individual artists. We therefore implore each one of our artists to aspire to render artworks that speak in volumes to a wider audience, works that create a ‘wow’ factor and would make you want to see them recurrently,” reads a press staement from Thapong Visual Arts Centre.It further states that though they recognise the participation of upcoming new artists and veteran artists, they remain indebted to curating works of higher standard that correlate with where “we are today in terms of how the exhibition has grown over the years—and for the mere fact that it is the highest art award in the country.”
The road to unearthing the winner of the 13th edition of the Thapong Artist of the Year awards (TAYA) is on.
Submission date for the annual awards is slated for November 5th at 1700hrs. The winner of TAYA 2017 will be unveiled in the coming weeks. The annual awards are open to members of Thapong Visual Arts Centre from different arts disciplines including Young Artist, Photography, Print Making, Painting, Graphic Design, and Sculpture. Besides crowning the overall artist of the year, other winners are drawn from different art disciplines mentioned above. The Coordinator of the Centre, Reggie Bakwena disclosed in an interview with BG Style that this year the prize money for the overall Artist of the Year would likely increase from P35 000 to an undisclosed amount. The new prize money would be revealed at a later date. Like in previous years, a judge from outside the country is expected to join two local judges in picking the winners. Last year, Fine Arts Lecturer from the University of Vaal, Velaphi Manzhinye was the guest judge. “The visiting judge from outside the country would accompany the two local judges,” he says. He also says that a workshop that will give artists feedback from the judges’ point of view on their judging process would be held once the judging process is completed.
Following the 2016 judging session, two sessions where the judges as well as Dan Sibanda who is a Lecturer at the Molepolole College of Education gave artists feedback were held.
“The feedback is crucial as it gives artists an idea of mistakes that they made and which they can work on ahead of TAYA and members exhibitions,” says Bakwena. But before artists start making any plans about what they would do with the price money, he gave them a few pointers about what they need to work on before they submit their works for the awards. His word of advice is that they need to understand that whatever works they would come up with they should keep the international market in mind. He also says that artists should also remember to take heed of judges’ comments from previous competitions, in order to submit quality works of art. “The outside market is what we are targeting,” he says noting that this year they have a lot of interest from artists ahead of the competition.
Botswana Innovation Hub(BIH) will host an inaugural innovation day dubbed as, “Innovation Botswana 2017” at the BIH Science and Technology Park in October 26th 2017 in Gaborone.
Addressing a media brief this Wednesday, BIH Director- ICT and Marketing, Tshepo Tsheko explained that the event aims to celebrate innovation and create a platform for networking, dialogue and exhibition with intention of bringing together local and regional players in the science, technology and innovation space.
Tsheko said, “we need to celebrate and showcase innovations that Batswana are working on, together with Internationals. This is to bring innovators and innovation seekers together; business to business interactions; funding and technical support and pitching opportunities.
“BIH brings together all players. We are constantly saying if there is anything we haven’t identified, we want to know how we can make it a success.” This will be carried out in an effort to sensitise stakeholders and the public on the current developments that have been taken by the BIH in line with its mandate of ensuring that Batswana are aware of the role of innovation in diversifying the economy.
BIH Public Relations Manager, Tigele Mokobi said they look forward to seeing key stakeholders such as Minister of Tertiary Education Dr Alfred Madigele, BIH Board chairperson Neo Moroka, together with various Chief Executive Officers, Vice Chancellors and Head of Departments of BIH partner with institutions in government, academia and the business community.
These will form a viable platform for the development of Innovation in Botswana. Mokobi says, “innovation Botswana 2017 will be the first of what will become an annual event, going forward it will be titled “Innovation Botswana” followed by a year in which it is held. We look forward to moulding it into a coveted platform that will become a think tank for Botswana’s best strides in innovation”
The overall objective of the event is to empower participants with a clear view and appreciation of the local innovation space. BIH Director- Cluster Development, Budzanani Tacheba added that “it will be an appreciation of what we have in Botswana and be able to export to other markets.”
Through Innovation Botswana 2017, the public will be given insight into what innovators are developing in their own spaces while also raising awareness on what legislative policies government is putting in place to support technology entrepreneurs.
The day will also accord participants an opportunity to engage stakeholders in dialogue during the scheduled plenary sessions, workshops as well as see and appreciate the creations coming from local innovators.
First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) remains optimistic about its performance in 2018 considering the positive signs of economic recovery in the country.
FNBB Chief Executive Officer, Steven Bogatsu said they expect the economy to start showing positive signs of recovery in the short to medium term as the indications are that the diamond industry is recovering and the tourism and agricultural sectors are performing well.
“The improvement to business credit extension is further evidence that the economy is on the road to recovery and we believe that we can confidently look forward to a better 2018,” said Bogatsu.He said they are encouraged that the bank of Botswana perception index indicates that the business community is buoyant about the future prospects for the country.In the company’s 2017 annual report, Bogatsu highlighted that business confidence showed an improvement in the first half of 2017 and there has been some recovery in the commodity space. However there was no growth in diamond production, but diamond sales, which are mostly exports, were significantly higher than in the previous year.
Bogatsu said it has been a challenging year for FNBB and the tough trading conditions were exacerbated by the closure of major mines and associated business failures which placed a large number of consumers under considerable pressure and negatively impacted their disposable incomes. “Consequence to the bank was a sharp increase in non-performing loans, particularly in the retail consumer segment which rose to unprecedented levels,” said Bogatsu.The bank’s overall performance was also affected by the downstream businesses in the transport, hospitality, accommodation and associated service industries that supported the mines. The overall performance was relatively flat with profit before tax increasing by three percent to P680.3 million and profit after tax marginally down on the previous year at P500. 5 million. The balance sheet grew by eight percent with four percent increase in net advances.
Shumba Energy Chairman, Alan Clegg says fossil fuels are required in Botswana for sustainable energy production and economic growth in the next 50 to 80 years.
Clegg explained that the gross domestic product in all modern and developing countries in Africa correlates directly with consumption of energy as does life expectancy.
“Until a reliable, new and reasonably priced base-load source of energy is found, fossil fuels are required and in Botswana Coal Resources Development (CRD) is the next leg for its industrialisation and future sustainability in economic growth for the next 50 to 80 years,” said Clegg.
Recently Botswana Oil (BOL) issued a tender asking investors to build a coal to liquid (CTL) plant for production of fuel in Botswana in a bid to secure its energy supply.
Botswana’s current demand for petroleum products stands at 1.2 billion litres per annum, all of which is imported, mostly from South Africa.
Commenting on Shumba Energy financial report, Clegg explained that analysis of established coal markets has shown increase and consolidation throughout the year with prices going to US$ 105 per tonne.
Markets like South East Asia and China which are supplied mainly by Australia have bounced back with the benchmark Australian export price sustaining levels of over US$85 per tonne and they are now making return on capital of US$5 to US$10 per tonne.
Price levels are also expected to increase to US$110 to 120 dollars per tonne by mid 2018 as the Chinese government continues to shut down mines on safety and environmental concerns.
Clegg said although it is unlikely that the company will enter the seaborne coal market for some years yet, Shumba Energy retains their intentions to export onto the seaborne spot markets.
“This continues to depend largely on the logistical infrastructure establishment and transport costs, but positive signs for this have emerged in the reporting period from regional governments and parastatals like Transnet in South Africa,” said Clegg.
Shumba Energy is currently working on three mining projects, Morupule South Mine Project, Letlhakeng coal exploration project and Sechaba mine project in Botswana.