Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn
She was at the centre of one of the country’s biggest pageantry scandals.
Earlier this year, the issue of a tattooed Miss Botswana became the talk of the nation and when it later emerged that Lorraine Ditsebe was among the few girls who were leading the campaign, she suffered a hostile backlash.
Ridiculed and abused on social media, she was labelled a bitter young girl, a sore loser, a jealous wannabe who could not stand seeing other girls progress.
Rising above the furore, Ditsebe quietly maintained her dignity.
Currently in Albania representing Botswana at Miss Globe 2016, in this candid interview with Kabelo Dipholo, it becomes clear that there is much more to the beauty queen than just a pretty face.
Q. You caused quite a stir during the 2016 Miss Botswana pageantry with claims of underhanded tactics and favouritism. So exactly who is Lorraine Ditsebe?
A. Lorraine Ditsebe is a diverse and devoted 23-year-old lady from Serowe in the Basimane ward.
I’m the last born of five. I believe in following my dreams and inspiring youngsters.
I’m the former Miss Earth Botswana 2012, a top six finalist of the Portuguese inspired Miss Universal Beauty in 2014.
I also made it to the top 12 contestants at this year’s Miss Botswana.
I’m currently pursuing a Degree in Statistics at the University of Botswana.
I’m a social entrepreneur and an aspiring author.
Q. How long have you been taking part in beauty pageants?
A. I have been into pageants since pre-school.
Then I focused on school.
I later realised that my passion was leadership and working with many so I got back into pageants in 2012 at the age of 19.
On my first attempt I won Miss Earth Botswana and represented Botswana very well in the Philippines, where I won silver and bronze medals.
Q. What attracted you to beauty pageantry?
A. I do pageantry for many reasons.
It is a platform that allows my voice to be heard, which in turn allows me to influence the society I live in.
It also enables me to travel – I love travelling and meeting new people from around the globe.
I have won prizes too in cash and material. Some money I have invested in myself.
I have witnessed girls winning university scholarships through their participation in pageants – it’s not just about swimwear and evening gowns you know!
I have developed confidence and have become a strong advocate for women empowerment through pageantry.
I have also learnt that eventually beauty wears out so I have to keep healthy and I’m always mindful of my image as a brand.
I’m currently working on a handbook for pageant girls, which will be published next year.
Pageants help me keep active and involved in the community and the world.
That’s why I am passionate about pageants.
Q. You are currently taking part in Miss Globe in Albania. What exactly is Miss Globe and should you win, what do you intend to do as the reigning queen?
A. I am representing Botswana, a country of unmatched beauty.
Official activities for Miss Globe 2016 started on the 16th of November.
Miss Globe is a pageant that empowers women to play a big role in leadership and be great influencers to the rest of the world.
It’s for women who believe in upgrading theirs and other women’s standards of living.
Being a Global queen, one has to be easily approachable, disciplined, a strong advocate for her cause, beautiful and very active.
If I win, I’ll work hard to finish the last chapters of my book.
I will start with Botswana; many girls at home are clueless that modelling and pageantry can change someone’s life and image for the best.
Most think it’s all about being famous and featured all over the media.
I say it’s more than that. I will have workshops where young queens will be groomed with all the necessities for winning a crown and using it to their advantage and for giving back to the community.
This will go on into neighbouring countries.
I believe and hope girls will be interested in owning a copy of my book and will create time for the workshops to empower themselves.
Q. Are you confident of winning?
A. Yes, I’m prepared to win.
I have all it takes to bring the crown home.
Q. Besides pageantry what else does Lorraine do?
A. I’m a motivational speaker. A social entrepreneur, Director of Butterfly Professional Designs by Jorge and Lorraine.
Q. How do you finance your travels around the world to take part in such competitions?
A. I’m going to be honest. Beauty Queens in Botswana do not receive enough support to help enable us win.
Yet we are always outside the country as Botswana’s pearls flying the flag high.
I dig from my own pockets and get help from my close friends. Private sectors and government should know by now that we are Botswana’s trademark internationally.
Believe me, the world is our runway! If everyone, including ministries, could make sure our queens are prepared to compete with international beauty queens, assist us in our preparations we would bring the crowns home and have the world talking about our country.
I struggle in my preparations.
Persistence, faith and discipline have taken me to where I am.
I’d like to say a big thanks to Mophato Dance theatre talent tutorials and Butterfly Professional Designs for a wardrobe.
And thanks too to a small circle of my friends.
I faced a lot of sponsorship rejections, but I’m grateful for the highs and lows I get to face everyday.
That’s what makes me stronger. I will never stop believing in myself and I won’t allow anything to distract me.
Q. You’ve also tried your luck in Miss Botswana.
What other pageants have you competed in and how did you fare?
A. Pageantry is like a sport to me, as a queen you have to respect humanity.
It’s not all about being glamorous and wearing high heels.
We work in different situations – I learnt this in Philippines at Miss Earth International in 2012.
I won two medals, one for being a business oriented woman and another for being the fastest learner.
In Miss Botswana 2016 I did my best and ended up in the top 12 bracket.
Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.
Q. Pageantries are usually controversial – what do you think needs to change to make them more appealing?
A. I think girls need to know what it takes to be a beauty queen.
When you win because of favours or advantages you are offered you are not a true queen.
You need to research and learn about a platform if you want to win.
These days, girls believe power of money and label of what you wear is what makes you a queen and that discourages a lot of beautiful girls from competing.
That needs to change. Until then we might struggle to win international crowns.
Also, we all know why girls love pageants.
So, if as a pageant director you make promises, make sure you fulfil them.
If you don’t, girls have a right to sue you.
We all need mutual respect in this industry.
We are doing it for our beautiful Botswana not for some individuals.
Let’s stop treating pageants as a way to milk money from companies; we are the reason they no longer want to sponsor because sponsorship is not well accounted for.
Q. You were one of the many people who openly registered their displeasure with the way Miss Botswana was handled.
Anything you regret with how the whole issue came out?
A. I don’t regret anything that I said during the Miss Botswana pageant.
My only regret was not registering my complaint earlier rather than on the final day.
It has taught me a lot of things; I realised that some decisions are taken at a very high level.
Corruption is not just at the tail, it is infested at the head.
Sadly that’s what the world is turning into.
Q. How long will you be in Albania and what are some of the activities you have lined up?
A. I will be in Albania until the 26th having arrived here on the 13th of November.
So far, I have done a national costume shoot and a first interview.
Next we are visiting media houses in Albania and the city at large.
We have mountain tours, cycling, Miss Elegance award, Miss Cosmopolitan award, Miss Congeniality, Miss Africa award and more press presentations.
We also had a trip to Italy, Bari. We went on a boat cruise to Italy before returning for the finale night on Friday.
Q. You are a globetrotter and very much focused on beauty pageantry and modelling.
Any chance that you’ll slow down and maybe settle down?
A. Yes at some point I’ll be training and mentoring more girls.
But I can never completely stay away.
I do hope to settle down a few years after I graduate and to focus and restructure my business.
Hopefully I’ll commit to someone as driven as me.
Q. Are you dating?
A. I’m not married, so yes I date.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday. What do you have planned for this weekend?
A. It’s been raining and cold here.
I’ve been hoping for a sunny Friday to spend my free time at the beach or join the other girls to party and dance.
People can follow me on instagram at lorraine_ditsebe and Facebook at Lorraine Motty Ditsebe.
Please follow the pageant on Facebook page, Deliart Association, and instagram account, @worldofficial_themissglobe.