ONE ON ONE WITH THE BEAUTIES
Following the highly publicised controversy surrounding the Miss Botswana 2016 pageant, Voice journalist Tumisang Tlhabiwe sought to clarify some of the more contentious issues as well as probe the minds of the Queen ( Thata Kenosi) and her princesses (Bonnie Kamona and Phatsimo Boagi).
Tumisang: Since being crowned, you have received a lot of criticism about your response to the question of how to address youth unemployment. Is there anything you want to say to your detractors?
Thata Kenosi: I am human and when I stepped on stage and was asked my question, I obviously choked and got stage fright.
When responding, I was trying to highlight how ESP (Economic Stimulus Package) is an already existing strategy that is being used and implemented to combat the unemployment rate amongst the youth.
I was going to go further and elaborate, highlighting on the solution that I believe could reduce, if not eliminate unemployment rates amongst Batswana youth.
Tumisang: Didn’t you know that ESP is a highly controversial topic?
Thata Kenosi: I really didn’t think it would cause so much controversy but at least now Batswana know more about ESP. (chuckles)
Tumisang: But obviously Batswana know the ins and outs of ESP hence they booed you. If they didn’t know about it they wouldn’t have reacted the way they did. Did you not take this into account?
Thata Kenosi: My idea was to answer the question on a political basis without taking attention away from what exactly my solutions were.
It was simply supposed to be a brief moment of me explaining that there is already a strategy in place.
Tumisang: And what of the controversy surrounding your body art? Do you have any tattoos?
Thata Kenosi: I do not have any visible tattoos that contravene the rules and regulations of the pageant as far as I understand them.
Tumisang: What was your motivation for entering the pageant?
Thata Kenosi: After completing my high school in Japan, I came back wanting to know more and be more aware of what it means to be a proud Motswana.
It was the desire to understand my heritage and culture that drove me to compete in the competition.
I now understand what it takes to be an ambassador of a country you don’t really understand.
It has allowed me to learn my language which is Setswana and enabled me to be more confident in speaking it.
I do understand it and now working on pronunciation when speaking.
Tumi: Moving on to the 1st princess. Many people suggest that beauty pageants are an anti-feminist tool to objectify women. How do you respond to this notion?
Bonnie Kamona: I shared the same view before taking part in the pageant but that was because I wasn’t well informed.
I think a lot of confusion comes from lack of knowledge but having partaken in Miss Botswana I don’t believe that anymore.
Maybe in other countries but I do stand and believe firmly in brand Miss Botswana.
They do not condone any anti-feminist notions at all.
Tumisang: And Phatsimo, how has your life changed since your success in the pageant?
Phatsimo Boagi: Honestly, my life hasn’t changed that much.
I’m still the very same humble, hardworking, determined and dedicated person that I was.
Only now I have a bigger platform which I can take on my dreams and change the world.
I like to say that I am the change and through this platform I can bring about the changes that I want for my country and actually take part in them.
I am very grateful for the position that I am in.
Tumisang: What improvements can be made to the pageant’s transparency?
Bonnie Kamona: The entire process was actually televised every single week.
In addition, the criterion was readily available and administrators of the Facebook page always responded to any enquiries.
It’s just that people don’t seek information on time. They are more reactionary but in reality the competition has been quite transparent.
Tumisang: What do you have to say to the young lady from the competition that has been highly vocal about Thato?
Phatsimo Boagi: The ladies that are tarnishing Thata’s name should know that this is not the end for them.
They are going to want to pursue other things in life and if you have that kind of reputation, no one will want to work with you.
Tumisang: Do you think they are motivated by jealous?
Bonnie Boagi: I think it’s more to do with being petty.
Tumisang: What kind of relationship did you have with the other competitors especially the young lady mentioned before?
Bonnie Boagi: I think we were all sisters. We were all getting along and we would laugh together.
Obviously some people are a bit more competitive than others but everything was fine [throughout the duration of the competition] so it’s a bit of a shock now.
Tumisang: Do you guys get to keep the crowns?
In unison: Yes
Tumisang: Seeing as you guys lived together at the boot camp, would you say you formed a sort of sisterhood?
Bonnie Boagi: I don’t think it was exclusive to the three of us.
I treated everyone the same. It’s not uncommon to form a bond with someone you have always known.
Thata and I went to the same high school.
Tumisang: In Japan?
Bonnie Boagi: No in Pretoria but I don’t think that’s the reason.
We formed a bond because I see something in her that I see in myself which is passion and determination.
Tumisang: What advice do you have for young girls who aspire to compete in pageants?
Thato Kenosi: You need to go out of your comfort zone and be bold and brave.
Say what you want with no remorse because at the end of the day it is you who will go forth and pursue that dream.