NANJING, (Xinhua) -- In the winter of 1990, Zhang Jindong quit his stable job, raised funds and opened a 200-square-metre store selling air-conditioners, to compete with the state-run shopping malls dominating at that time.
At the start, Zhang's decision won little support from his family and friends, who thought it difficult to survive in the then market environment. But the country's support for developing the market economy boosted Zhang's confidence in his business.
Zhang soon alleviated any worries his family had. He innovated business models and took the lead in offering conglomerative services such as delivery, installation, repair and maintenance.
This helped Suning to occupy a 70-percent share in the local air-conditioner sale market in Nanjing in just one year after its operation.
Almost thirty years on, the Suning store in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, has grown into a retail giant and one of the top private enterprises in China, through its continuous innovation and reform in the Internet era, as well as cooperation with both domestic and foreign firms.
Now boasting 13,000 stores, the retail company has been included among the Fortune Global 500 companies for the past three years. Suning.com, the e-commerce platform of Suning, saw its omnichannel sales volume of commodities increase 21.8 percent year on year to 184.22 billion yuan (about 26 billion U.S. dollars) in the first half of this year.
"The reform and opening-up policies opened the door to the rapid growth of the private sector," Zhang explained. "Suning was founded in 1990 and expanded rapidly after the remarks made by Comrade Deng Xiaoping during his southern inspection tour in 1992," said Zhang, 56, founder and chairman of Suning Holdings Group.
During the landmark trip, Deng urged further emancipation of the mind and acceleration of reform, opening up and economic development.
After the year 2000, the rapid development of the real estate sector boosted demand for home appliances. Again, Zhang seized the opportunity, decisively cut down the company's air-conditioner wholesale business, and focused on developing home appliance chains nationwide.
In 2009, Suning had more than 1,000 stores, with its sales revenue surpassing 100 billion yuan.
"The huge market of our country is the reason for the successful transformation of Suning," said Zhang. "We should always integrate the growth of enterprises with the big development of our nation."
SMART RETAIL PROMOTER
With the boom of e-commerce, Suning's online platform Suning.com was put into use in 2010, marking the Internet-based transition of home appliance chains, although some employees did not quite understand the step at first.
"The most dangerous thing is to stay within our comfort zone without seeking change," Zhang said.
According to Zhang, Suning is not an e-commerce company, but a smart retailer. Future retail enterprises must adopt an integrated model of both online and offline services, he said, calling for efficient management based on data applications.
In 2015, the company reached a multi-billion dollar deal on platforms, logistics and payments with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Two years later, Suning opened its first unmanned store.
Smart retailing includes the use of cloud computing, big data and IoT technologies to realise intelligent purchasing, sales and services, according to Zhang.
Hou Enlong, president of Suning.com, attributed the development of the company to the chairman's preparedness to new challenges and continuous innovation.
"He has always made the right decision in each transformation of the retail industry. We choose to understand and implement it. Suning has never been left behind," Hou said.
Earlier this year, Suning acquired the 37 nationwide stores of Wanda Department Store. In June, the company announced it reached a deal to buy an 80 percent equity interest in Carrefour China.
The transaction is expected to integrate Suning.com's online-to-offline retail model and logistics network with Carrefour China's strong supply chain and experience in retailing fast-moving consumer goods.
These measures have improved the smart retail layout of Suning and enhanced its market competitiveness in big and fast-moving consumer goods, which will provide a more valuable shopping experience to users, Zhang said.
According to the entrepreneur, Suning's plan is ultimately designed to improve the core competitiveness of retail and better meet the needs of users.
"Four capabilities - stores, logistics, technology and finance - have helped Suning strengthen its retail business."
Suning is also involved in sports, including investment in two football clubs.
"Sports culture represents an uplifting force and a ray of sunshine, much like Suning's positioning, making it easier to establish emotional ties with consumers," Zhang said.
© (Xinhua/Li Ying)
China will make all-out efforts to "do whatever the African brothers expect from us and whatever is in their interests", Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has promised.
The world today faces major changes unseen in a century, and the most important change is that a large number of developing countries, including China and those in Africa, have been on the fast track of development, Wang said. China has stood firmly with its African brothers all along, Wang said during a meeting with the foreign ministers of Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa -- members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and Niger and Tunisia, incoming members of the UN Security Council, on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly high-level events week.
Wang said reflecting Africa's appeals, addressing its concerns and safeguarding its interests are the central focus of China's work on the council as African countries are the most important and most trusted partners of China since the first day that China joined the council.
In the face of the new situation, China is ready to work with African countries at the Security Council to strengthen solidarity and coordination, and safeguard common interests, Wang said, adding that together the countries will make new and greater contributions to world peace and development.
Wang said important consensus was reached at the meeting as all parties are supportive of safeguarding multilateralism, strengthening the authority and role of the United Nations, upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and opposing unilateralism and bullying.
"We have all agreed to enhance mutual support and cooperation between China and Africa in UN and Security Council affairs, and safeguard the common interests of China, Africa and other developing countries," said Wang.
It is supported by all that African countries should solve African issues in the African way and the UN should provide financial support for independent peace operations in Africa, according to Wang.
He added that the concept of "cooperation for development and development for peace" is also supported by all, which will help African countries achieve independent and sustainable development.
Wang stressed that all parties at the meeting are firmly committed to safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, and opposing any country creating obstacles for developing countries or depriving them of the right to development.
The foreign ministers of the African countries who attended the meeting extended congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
They said Africa-China relations are based on equality and mutual respect, and Africa and China have always been each other's most reliable partners.
Africa appreciates that China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has played an important and positive role in African affairs, effectively promoted the fair and reasonable settlement of African issues, and made great contributions to safeguarding African interests and boosting peace and security in Africa, they noted.
At present, Africa faces the threat of terrorism and extremism, the ministers pointed out, adding that only by addressing security issues can Africa truly achieve long-term peaceful development.
© (Xinhua/Liu Jie)
Batswana should not allow their opponents to distract them by indicating that the coalition has a working relation with former President Ian Khama. Head of Communications for Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Moeti Mohwasa said the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is at the forefront of distorting facts regarding the relationship between UDC and Khama and his party Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).
Mohwasa who was updating the media in Gaborone about his party’s preparations for the launch of its leader Duma Boko and running mate Dumelang Saleshando stated that the BDP is desperately distorting facts because it fears that it would lose elections.
Mohwasa explained that what is happening is that the BPF has called on electorates to vote for UDC where the BPF has not fielded any candidate.
“Why should we attack someone who wants eligible voters to cast their votes in our favour? Khama has made it clear that he wants the BDP led by Mokgweetsi Masisi to be voted out of power. “Now they want us to reject that. We cannot do that because we also want the BDP voted out of office because it has failed the people of this country in the past 53 years. “We do not have a working relationship with the BPF which is why we are competing in some of the constituencies and wards. It is interesting that the BDP had a long relationship with Khama and he was a saint and now that he has dumped their party, he is a bad person.
“The problem is not a person but the party and BDP should take responsibility as a collective on all wrongs committed by Khama,” said Mohwasa.The head of communications stated that there was still corruption and scandals even during the era of those BDP leaders who were at the helm of the party before Khama, but the perpetrators have not been brought to book. Mohwasa said the BDP is feeling the heat after its fallout with Khama. “If he is that bad why was President Masisi publicly indicating that they want him back into the party,” he asked adding that the BDP elders approached Khama to return to the BDP because they know the new party will be a contributing factor in the BDP performance.
“The BDP is rotting from inside. Masisi is a deployee of the BDP as was Khama during his time. We would hate or fight Masisi when he is no longer at the helm of the BDP. “Everyone that supports the UDC we will welcome such with open hands. Even our other competitors, the BDP and Alliance for Progressives when they support us, we will not reject them so the BDP should stop lying to Batswana and accept that their time is up and post October 23rd they will no longer be in power. “They know that the BDP is what it is because of the influence of the Khamas. So, they have to deal with the problem they have created and stop spreading falsehoods.”
Self-exiled BaKgatla Ba Kgafela Sovereign, Kgosikgolo Kgafela II has proposed a two-pronged strategy to resolve, once and for all, the perennial trials and tribulations of his Botswana-based subjects.
Addressing multitudes – mostly from Botswana- that had thronged his ‘last stand’ - Kgabutle kgotla in Lesetlheng, Moruleng – South Africa to celebrate BaKgatla Heritage Day this past Sunday, Kgafela offered an absolute stunner! The ultimate solution to his people’s woes, he said, was only a comprehensive Constitutional review that would guarantee an independent BaKgatla State. In fact, until the republican constitution is reviewed, Kgafela swore he would not set foot in Botswana! This exhortation evoked a collective sigh of desperation from the crowd.
It was perhaps what his audience had not expected to hear – but then again, Kgafela is a free spirit, some say controversial, who speaks his mind at will! His entrance into Kgabutle, preceded by that of the Queen, Mohumagadi Mma Matshego, was grand and regal.
Both were respectively led by mephato ya bojale and bogwera (age regiments) adorned in their traditional and customary garb and singing songs in praise of the royal family’s chivalry. At the mention of Kgafela’s arrival by programme director, Setshedi Rasepae, a freak whirlwind swept through the grounds as if to cleanse it, and in the process sent the exhibition stall of Phuthadikobo Museum tumbling over. The joint age regiments led Kgafela into the Kgotla with thunderous renditions of dikoma as everybody stood up in reverence, absorbed in the reverie of a cultural carnival.This stirred up nostalgia among the elderly sections in the crowd whilst the young soaked into the rich history of this tribe - hearing perhaps for the first time- how Kgosi Kgamanyane fled from Paul Kruger in 1869 to Bechuanaland.
Upon arrival in Bechuanaland BaKgatla would endure suffering at the hands of Kgosi Sechele of BaKwena and later at Kgosi Khama of BaNgwato and then at the hands of Khama’s son, Seretse Khama in 1966 and finally suffered under the yoke of Khama’s grandson, Ian Khama, according to Kgafela, who told his subjects that Mmammitlwa was his ‘last stand’ from which BaKgatla would wage all their wars and battles to reclaim their land. The affair was attended by pomp and ceremony. From the royal house Kgafela’s mother, Mma Seingwaeng; as well as Kgafela’s siblings Seingwaeng; BaKgatle and Mmusi were in attendance as were Kgafela’s children, Matshego, Tebele and Sedibelo.
Kgafela’s uncles were also there, Mothibe Linchwe and Kgosi Segale as well as Motshwarelela Kgosi in Mochudi, Kgosi Bana Sekai, who introduced guests among them president of Alliance for Progressives, Ndaba Gaolathe and Mayor of Gaborone Kagiso Thutlwe. As for those based in South Africa, Morena Mochele welcomed the guests, while Kgosi David Mpule Pheto gave an overview of the legal cases that eventually led to the Baloyi Commission, whose report has vindicated BaKgatla’s grievances over former Chief’s Representative Nyalala Molefe Pilane’s handling of BaKgatla’s assets and traditional affairs.
There was also Morena Ramono Pilane in attendance.
Turning to the issue in Botswana, Kgafela lamented that BaKgatla are continuiously wailing about their living conditions and circumstances in Botswana. He advised them that a time comes for those who cry to get solutions to their problems. Kgafela said when he left Botswana in 2012 he had told Batswana that their problems were two-faced, the Constitution and a corrupt Government. The solution to these problems, he said, is simple – it is to change the Constitution and shun a corrupt government. Kgafela reiterated that Botswana constitution is not of Batswana’s making but is an invention of “Seretse Khama and his friends, Masire and others”. He said the government is corrupt, but that Batswana don’t want to take it to task or make it account, instead they choose to imprison diKgosi who stand up to demand justice. “I was thrown out of Botswana for demanding a review of the Constitution and demanding that we shun a corrupt government,” he said.
The solution to all Batswana’s problems is to change the Constituion. He said to do this is very simple, as it requires getting the President to sign the Referundum Act to agree to kick out Seretse’s constitution.But the problem with Batswana, he said, is that they like to vote for political parties, they like voting but don’t want to march for referendum or to face the reality of corruption – which is hypocrisy. Kgafela likened the Botswana constitution to an old suit that has grown short and no longer fits its owner (ke wandikhalela).
He said former President, the late Sir Ketumile Masire had indicated when he vacated the presidency that it is old and needs reviewing, as did Mogae and now Masisi, but lamented that this was all talk and no show. As for Ian Khama, Kgafela said he never spoke of the need to review the Constitution during his presidency. Kgafela told BaKgatla that there had been talk prior to the Heritage Day celebration that he was going to advise Batswana how to vote in the general election. He dismissed this as false. “I don’t care for your eletions, I only want that you change the Constitution, let there be accountability and peace in Bechuanaland,” he said deliberately using Botswana’s colonial name presaging the thrust of the day’s message.
“Until you change the Constitution, I swear that Kgafela will not set foot in Botswana. I will not set foot in Botswana whilst your Constitution remains as is,” he repeated. Kgafela also denied suggestions that there are certain people in Botswana that are in talks with him regarding his return to Botswana. “I am not talking to anyone!” he said insisting that whoever wants to talk to him must “earn that right to talk to me by changing the Constitution and desisting from corruption and public looting”. Kgafela told BaKgatla that this was his solution to their plight and that they should never come to him crying, as he was now closing this matter!
BaKgatla’s trod to independence
Kgafela said BaKgatla are not like other tribes because their journey to Bechuanaland is unlike other tribe’s. Further, he said no tribe’s King has been imprisoned for no apparent reason except for him and the late Kgosi Seepapitso of BaNgwaketse.
BaKgatla’s history is also unique as captured in Professor Fred Morton’s book as well as Isaac Schappera’s writings and lately the Baloyi Commission Report. However, Kgafela mentioned other records that he encourage his tribe to read in order to have a full appreciation of their history and desist from the temptation to speak off-tangent and in ignorance about Kgafela’s issues.
These, he said are the 1953 report by Lord Haley issued by the Queen of England in 1953. It was a report on the enquiry regarding tribal relations in Bechuanaland. The report was prompted by Kgosi Linchwe I who had written a letter to the Queen of England in November 1894 complaining about the conflicts between BaKgatla and BaKwena in Bechuanaland. Kgafela explained that the Queen of England answered Kgosi Linchwe’s grievances by instituting a Boundaries Commission headed by Captain Good Adams, who later became known as Lord Hamilton.He said that BaKwena and BaKgatla made their submissions and gave evidence at that Lord Hamilton’s Commission and at the end Lord Hamilton demarcated and set out the boundaries which were approved by Queen of England through Proclamation No. 9 of 1899. Kgafela said it was through that statute that BaKgatla ba Kgafela tribe was legally given their land as a means to resolve the conflicts that had plagued them and BaKwena at the time. “Now the land of BaKgatla in Bechuanaland is theirs – they fought for it and thereafter the Queen of England gave it to them by law – I thank her and genuflect before her,” he said to shouts of approbation from the crowd.
Kgafela said after Proclamation No. 9 of 1899 another law was enacted known as Tribal Territories Act of 1933 to confirm Proclamation No. 9 of 1899.He said that Lord Haley’s Report of 1953 confirms that the land of BaKgatla belongs to Morafe and Kgosi and noone else. “It is their land because they fought for it and secondly because the Queen of England gave it to them by law. “We have a Title Deed on the form of Statute and a Formal Report from the Queen of England’s Office,” he said.
Kgafela said that since history and law confirm that “that is our land, I want it back and I am going to get it. “We have long suffered in that land at the hands of Seretse Khama’s unfair practices,” he said adding that Seretse Khama had taken BaKgatla’s land by treacherous means. Kgafela said that his father, the late Kgosi Linchwe II had also written a letter in December 1965 to Botswana government complaining that BaKgatla were being cheated of their land and rights but was ignored.
Kgafela said all of BaKgatla’s groanings and sufferings could therefore be traced to Seretse’s administration.
“Although you have your own land with full rights over it, you have allowed foreigners whether MoNgwato or MoKwena to come and take this land from you willy-nilly while you stay quiet.
“All your suffering is caused by your keeping quiet at these injustices. I have fought over this matter whilst in Botswana. It is the reason that they wanted to kill me - for speaking this truth, which I am speaking today”.
Despite the recent lifting of his derecognition by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Kgafela said he cannot go to Botswana because there are charges over his head for which he would be imprisoned when he lands there.
He said he had been charged among others for the illegal flogging of his subjects, but that this was just a smokescreen to blur the real reason, which was his audacity to open the Pandora’s Box of history.
How to reclaim BaKgatla’s land
Kgafela said the land would be reclaimed through legal means, however protracted the battle, since he does not subscribe to blood letting, but is an adherent of negotiations and mediation.
“As BaKgatla Ba Kgafela starting with me- I and my family – Mma Matshego, Matshego, Tebele and Sedibelo - from here we are going to Mafikeng High Court to file a summons,” against Botswana Government.
Other respondents will follow with time. He said any other MoKgatla who wished to join the Royal Family in this crusade was free to do so since it is voluntary. “Our demands are to be given our land as it were in 1899 and 1933. We want full ownership of the land failing this we want Fair Compensation so that we can leave, as we have done!”
Kgafela told BaKgatla to get it into their heads and minds that the “Royal House has left for good from Botswana because we were chased out”.He said the only thing that remains “for us is to claim back our land or be compensated fairly”. The end result of reclaiming BaKgatla’s land as it were is that “You will be independent in your land” just as South Africans, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho are. “So will we in our land, Kgatleng after we win the case,” he promised. He said once the case starts after summons the respondent will be given time and then the case will be tried. “We will give evidence as we did in Mafikeng, Maluleka and Baloyi Commission,” He said once judgement is handed down, they’d send a Deputy Sheriff to Botswana to execute it.
“We will be given our land or fair compensation– if it is the value of our land at say P10 billion then the Deputy Sheriff will attach the equaivalent sum,” he said. Kgafela said only this solution would bring to an end the fairy tale of BaKgatla’s suffering. Kgafela said he had made a resolution and written a letter on behalf of all BaKgatla to this effect which will be given to the Morafe for any willing member to sign. He said noone is forced to take this “road to BaKgatla ba Kgafela independence with us (royal family) if he or she does no want”. But if there be any MoKgatla who has a better solution to BaKgatla’s grievances Kgafela dared him or her to come to Kgabutle kgotla in December to proffer his or her solution and explain how he or she will execute it.
Going forward Kgafela said he does not want to hear any other issue except solutions to this matter.
“It is my solemn duty to claim our land back. There is only one issue, we want our land back, and we want it now! I am done, this is the solution. It is up to you whether you take it or not. “This is where we go our separate ways on this day, September 29, 2019 will be etched in history as the day that BaKgatla began a new journey. “If you don’t like this issue, it’s too bad, because it may not be your duty but for me it is a matter of duty because I have to finish what Kgosi Linchwe I, Kgosi Linchwe II and Kgosi Molefhi fought for,” he said.
Is this solution practical?
A legal expert that Botswana Guardian spoke to advised that Mafikeng High Court does not have jurisdiction to hear a matter of such magnitude as it has bearing in territorial integrity of another sovereign state.He said according to international jurisprudence, individual countries must have control over their own affairs. He said only matters of international interest like piracy, hijacking etal, can be heard in a different jurisduction such as the International Court of Justice, provided the consent of the other country / state is secured.For instance when Botswana sought the intervention of the ICJ in its dispute with Namibia over Sedudu Island, Namibia had to give its consent to have the matter heard by the ICJ.
Although BaKgatla ba Kgafela tribe straddles both Botswana and South Africa, the two countries are independent sovereign states bound by international covenants and treaties that govern cross-border, bilateral and multilateral relations between states.
Further, with the collapse of the Southern African Development Community’s Tribunal, Kgafela’s options to get back BaKgatla’s land in Botswana appear limited. Perhaps he could seek recourse from the African Court on Human and People’s Rights of the African Union. Kgafela once lost his challenge against the Constitution of Botswana at the highest Court in the land. This obviously makes any repeat legal challenge, especially waged from outside, vexatious and an insurmountable task to bear. But then Kgafela has fought prevailed against Nyalala Pilane and big mining businesses! However, the thought of advancing the cause for tribal secession in Botswana is another non-starter, which makes his prospects all the more dimmer, says political observers.
Real democracy should inculcate a culture of public participation that is vigilant to help leaders keep the eye on the ball, and is also representative of all communities. Kenyan intellectual activist and political lecturer Nanjala Nyabola who was in the country recently, said civil society should accept the fact that democracy is a way of life and does not only become relevant during elections.
She said civil societies should adopt a culture of holding their leaders accountable at any time and be informed on decisions, policies and financial management of the country. “Public accountability is a key issue…We have seen instances where certain issues are swept under the carpet and there is a smokescreen to derail civil society – that’s what gives some leaders the power to perpetuate corruption and create dictatorships” she said. Nyabola noted that corruption and a vacuum in leadership were some of the biggest challenges faced by many African countries.
Speaking ahead of the general election in Botswana, Nyabola pointed out that many Africans still think elections is democracy, a false notion perpetuated by politicians who only want community members for increasing voter numbers and are not interested in giving them real political education. Nyabola also said that it was unfortunate that in this day and age African politics were still marred by censorship, oppression and misinterpretation, which heightened around election time. She pointed out that parties with most funds could manipulate information sources to mislead and coerce the public. Nyabola, whose book, Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics explores the drastic efforts being made by elites to contain online activism, fake news and a failed digital vote-counting system, also said the Internet was playing a very critical role in formulating the modern narrative of African politics.
She said through her research in reframing digital democracy from the African perspective, she had established that digital spaces have allowed Africans to build new communities which transcend old ethnic and gender divisions among traditionally marginalised groups, particularly women and people living with disabilities.
She however pointed out that while this was a positive development, some dodgy politicians and activists manipulated these communication sources for their own benefit and that’s where traditional media still had an upper hand over civil journalists, as they have the power of authority and verification.
The political activist further said it was unfortunate that we still relied on the West to mirror what real politics is like instead of considering that our background and experiences differ. “Africa is faced with broad philosophical challenge – development challenge, violence and only social change can dismantle the archaic notions about Africa that stall development and prosperity across the continent”. Nyabola also touched on gender representation in politics and pointed out that governments in Africa should create opportunities for women. She said gender representation in governance and politics was regressive. She cited that here in Botswana, the number of female participants was now at its lowest.
She said youth and women should be at the forefront of development. During her visit, Nyabola facilitated a workshop on Gender Democracy, Governance and Politics for the Department of Sociology at the University of Botswana and also had a talk at the Gaborone Book Festival titled ‘How has the digital era affected democracy and activism in Africa?’ Nyabola who holds a Masters in African Studies has taught in both Africa and Europe, and served Amnesty International Kenya.
Convo Lounge Mentorship programme exists to enhance the quality and relevance of students to industry challenges and opportunities. Head of Research at Youth Alive Foundation Yandile Nuku said this will be done by serving as a frequent engagement channel between both stakeholders.
‘Convo’ is short for conversation or a discussion between individuals that facilitates the sharing of experiences, insights, values, resources, ideas and efforts between industry experts and students in order to provide solutions and opportunities for employment and deployment of students who add value and impact to industry.“African Youth have unprecedented opportunities. The first opportunity is that Africa is establishing its identity and consolidating its socio-economic power through the inter-continental Africa trade agreement which will see Africa becoming the largest trade market in the world.
“The question is will Botswana graduates be able to leverage on this opportunity with their set of skills, interests, talents and efforts complimented by their knowledge? Mentorship is key in this regard,” she said when addressing members of the media in Gaborone. She said the second opportunity is that of accelerated growth by African youth in terms of skills and project value due to the digital economy which provides access to information carrying opportunities and unlimited global resources to seize those opportunities.
This will of course require digital skills and presence as well as self confidence on the part of the students in order for them to seize the opportunities of the digital economy, Nuku stated.
“The third opportunity is that of the Demographic dividend in Africa. By 2050 Africa will have the youngest and largest workforce between the ages of 15 and 25. What this means is that the energy and mindset of Africa youth will become an Asset. “The Demographic dividend will give Africa a huge return on investment provided we focus and guide the energy of students towards conceptualising and commercialising their ideas that lead to positive impact and wealth creation,” explained Nuku.
According to Nuku, Botswana youth can take charge and be at the forefront of all the mentioned opportunities as a result of having universal access to education. To further unlock this comparative advantage, we now need universal access to mentorship for students to understand and seize the opportunity before them, she said. She added that although mentorship is the key, it has a few barriers such as the inability of students to approach industry experts.
Locally produced film Stuck premiered this past Friday evening on DSTV’s Southern African channel, Zambezi Magic. The film, shot in Gaborone, is a fascinating story about how four colleagues who hold different positions in their organisation find themselves trapped in a lift.
Not only do they have to survive each other, but they also have pretty interesting lives waiting for them outside the lift and deep secrets. The 75 minutes film is produced by local company, Mangorelo Images owned by Dutch Palala and Mcdonald Kengaletswe. It features four main characters, namely Tefo Paya, playing the role of Mandla, who thinks that he is God’s gift to women. Although he is married, he does not respect his marriage, and chases after every skirt that he fancies and has very little respect for other colleagues.
And then there is Lucas Kgosi, playing the role of Kabelo, who is barely surviving and is employed in the company as a security guard. What is sad about Kabelo is that life is showing him flames, and he has to resort to selling some of his possessions including his cellular phone. At work, he attempts to gain the audience of his boss, in order to pitch a business proposal that can uplift him, but his boss played by Ruth Moore does not listen to him. Kgomotso Ratsie plays the role of Nono a receptionist.
Her life is also not so perfect. She is about to give up on life as she does not have the funds to pay for a much-needed kidney transplant, and is toying with the idea of taking her life. Not only that, Mandla makes fun of her and her shabby phone that has seen better days. The fourth person in the lift is none other than Morati Kgari from Colours. Wearing shades and on the outside appearing as if her life is put together, she also has dark secrets. Hiding behind sunglasses, she is battling to get out of drugs, and her abusive boyfriend happens to be a drug dealer. The sunglasses hide her black eye.
The four are hopeful that the other security guy who relieved Kabelo from his shift will rescue them. The guard is none other than Tomeletso Sereetsi, and is fast asleep on the ground floor. Of the four, calling for help is an impossible task. Kabelo does not have a phone, he sold it. Mandla’s battery is dead; his wife is waiting at home with dinner, and calling him a million times. Leah forgot her phone in her office, meaning that the only person with a phone is Nono, who is embarrassed to take it out.
The film was mostly shot at Kagisong centre. And the big scenes inside the lift where tempers flare, and egos are displayed is shot inside a ‘man made lift’. Speaking in an interview, with producer Dutch Palala, he explains that the film features a total of 17 cast members. He explains that in the beginning it was mission impossible to construct the lift, but that a team from AFDA came through for them in the end. “In the end it was a wow,” he says.
He also says that one of the challenges that they faced was funding, but that Zambezi Magic who commissioned them to produce the film covered the bulk of the costs. Shooting for Stuck started in May, and they finished production in August. Giving a brief of how they were commissioned, he explained that they pitched in December, and that early January they received a call that their proposal has progressed to the next stage.
He also explains that their company was established in 2015, and that they have previously produced short films that include Don’t Fall asleep. One of their projects, Small House, a feature film, he says might be shown on Now Tv. “Don’t fall Asleep was the opening act to the horror film, Annabel which showed at New Capitol Cinema’s,” he explains.
Award-winning Botswana-born actor Donald Molosi’s latest lead role is in a new international film called 2064. The film will have its world premier in Hong Kong on September 28 at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Festival.
In an interesting historic turn, especially because the High Court of Botswana decriminalized same-sex relationships earlier this year, Molosi’s new film is the first high-profile queer film to come out of Botswana. Says Molosi of the film: “My choice of roles is as bold as the times need me to be. As a human being, if you don’t make bold decisions you might as well be dead.”
The new film, 2064, sees Molosi in the lead role opposite award-winning South African actor Thabo Rametsi. 2064 is produced by Dreamcoat Films, a British production company and it is directed by British-Nigerian director Joseph Adesunloye. 2064 was filmed in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
“I recognize with hope that although 2064 was filmed in a Botswana where same-sex relationships were illegal and that it now gets released after the Botswana High Court has ruled otherwise. I am also ashamed that the Botswana government is appealing that historic ruling. As an actor I am using my own power to push against the present government’s stance concerning this issue,” Molosi spoke in a press release.
“The story itself is universal and is about how balancing the human-wildlife conflict may have to come through extreme measure in the future and what that may mean for love between humans.”After showcasing in Cannes earlier in May, 2064 recently opened in Hong Kong at the Hong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. In the first week of October the film will premiere in Scotland at the Scotland Queer International Festival; in Sweden at the CinemAfrica Film Festival; and at the Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival October 6.
A week before its world premiere, 2064 was yesterday nominated for the prestigious Grand Prix prize in Sweden. Molosi’s latest film was nominated for the prize for its excellence in storytelling. The Grand Prix is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This means that if 2064 wins the Grand Prix in Sweden the film would automatically be eligible for an Oscar nomination.
Molosi is an actor and writer from Mahalapye and his latest film appearance was opposite Academy Award nominee Rosamund Pike in A United Kingdom. In June, Molosi’s new book Dear Upright African won the Best Narrative Award at the African Authors Awards 2019. He divides his time between several countries.
Botswana is rich with creative talent that should be tapped into and harnessed. This was said by Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Phillip Makgalemele during the opening of the second annual Gaborone Book Festival (GBF) at Maitisong recently.
Makgalemele, who has authored two books, Hour for Cooperatives in 1998 and Game Plan in 2018 – said Batswana are known to be a people who do not read but noted that it was imperative to share the word that reading is essential not only for educational purposes but also for leisure. He further said literature is an important component of our culture, adding that Botswana society is cemented on values of retaining and embracing unique identity. “Literature is an important component of our culture and GBF is playing an important role of offering a platform for celebrating and highlighting literary works of Botswana writers,” he said.
Donald Molosi read extracts from his book, Dear Upright African. He shared in part of how he had personally experienced situations where he was considered not white enough and not black enough, which he said was an “insult to even my ancestors.” He noted that it was disappointing how the African classroom is not only made to look as British as possible, but also that Africans are expected to live up to the British narrative, neglecting their authentic heritage, history and values in the process.
Nanjala Nyabola, an independent researcher and political analyst whose work focuses on conflict and post conflict transitions, with a focus on refugees and migration, as well as East African politics and feminism appeared to be a firm favourite and had everyone on the edge of their seat through her commentary. Nyabola is the author of “Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Kenya” and co-editor of “Where Women Are: Gender and the 2017 Kenyan Elections”. TJ Dema, who recently published her first long-form book, Careless Seamstress took the audience through the topics that inspired the collection of poetry.
Other authors who graced the event included Rachel Nekati who writes on health and fitness, Nelson Letshwene who writes on finances, Enole Ditsheko, author of Wrestling Botswana from the Khamas, Phehello Mofokeng publishing partner to Sol Plaatje University’s Repatriation of Letters project; which aims to reclaim back into Setswana, English texts that are written by Batswana and is also the author of Sankomota: An Ode in One Album – A Reflective Essay. Siya Khumalo gave commentary on religion, politics and sex through the perspective of his debut book, You Have To Be Gay To Know God. Rosie Motene who has been active for over a decade in generating awareness on women and children abuse across the African continent and has also found time to write the story of her life – Reclaiming The Soil, as well as Onica Lekuntwane who writes children’s books, entertaintment journalist Lerato Mogoatlhe who has written a travel book and Brilliant Kodie, among others.
Co-founder of GBF Kenanao Phele said they were pleased with the growth of the festival. “Most impressive was the Student zone sponsored by IDM. We saw the numbers increase from 100 learners last year to 200 this year. UNESCO has declared 2019 year of indigenous languages so we zoned in on issues of heritage, identity and language. We also had a Master class of writing in indigenous writing with Dr. Naledi Kgolo. The participants were happy and have asked for another workshop, especially as it forms part of preservation of culture,” she said. She also said that the launch of the Botswana Women Writers anthology on the first day of the festival was also a success.
“We are proud to have been part of this event that celebrates the work of women writers in Botswana. We always want to give prominence to important books coming from Botswana regardless of genre. The content at the festival was rich and well-articulated,” she said. Phele also said that they were impressed by the number of people who were buying books. Their partners, Sebilo Books was the main book seller. She added that they still appealed for sponsorship adding that the festival did not only inculcate a culture of reading and writing but also gave local authors an important platform and attracted a diverse crowd to share ideas and engage.
Avani Gaborone Resort and Casino will this month host a one of a kind lifestyle brunch. The event will feature J Something from South Africa’s house duo Mi Casa. J Something born Joao da Fonseca is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the group.
A brand with a full package, he is pencilled to usher in a new type of entertaining for the hotel establishment that seeks to position itself as Gaborone’s hotspot that caters to the whims and needs of a diverse clientele ranging from a business traveller to an ordinary traveller.
The lifestyle event will take place on October 19th. Besides singing, J Something is also a refined chef, and has published a cook book titled Cooking with J Something. Besides his love for music, he also has a craft gin, Gin Jin.
Highlights of the day will include indulging and sampling food prepared by J Something, a book signing session as well as quenching thirst with his Gin Jin. The event is planned to begin at midday and will go on till late. Tickets are on sale for P3000 for a group of six, inclusive of 2 platters, 3 bottles of Gin Jin and 18 mixers; P1000 for a couple, inclusive of 1 platter, 1 bottle of Gin Jin and 6 mixers and lastly P400 per person including a glass of Gin Jin and food.
Speaking in an interview, the Marketing Executive, Thapelo Mmono explains that the whole concept with the event is to do something different instead of what Batswana are accustomed to. She also says that the Brunch is part of Avani’s efforts to reposition itself as the leading social hub of Gaborone. “Our patrons have so much to look forward to including playing Golf, the Pizza oven and other interesting activities,” she explains.
This is the first of many events to come, she says. “We are going to have a lot of these events,” she explains. She further says that what is unique about J Something is the fact that he is a full package. When he is cooking, he interacts with his audience, and involves them on his journey of cooking, she explains.