Beauty, brains and a heart of gold
On Saturday 22 October, after months of auditions and several rounds of voting, Lesego Chombo was crowned the fairest in the land, the 53rd Motswana to wear the coveted Miss Botswana crown.
The 24-year-old Maun-born stunner will now represent the country at Miss World 2022, although the venue and dates are yet to be confirmed. In the pageant’s 71-year history, Botswana’s best finish remains the first runner-up position managed by Emma Wareus back in 2010; Chombo is confident she is the woman to change this.
A devout Christian with a compassion for helping others – for her birthday in July, she hosted a recreational outing for 70 children in need – Chombo is so much more than a pretty face with a dazzling smile atop a toned, lithe frame.
The brainy beauty also holds a law degree from UB and is a practicing attorney at the High Court of Botswana.
In this chat with PORTIA MLILO, we get to learn a little more about this intriguing queen and the bright personality behind the picture perfect face.
Congratulations on your stunning victory – how does it feel to be crowned the fairest in the land?
I most certainly feel very proud of how far I have come. I am proud of the courage I had to pursue the crown in the first place. My resilience and hard work throughout the competition, and most importantly, I am proud that I have been entrusted with a badge of ambassadorship to be an extension of my country on the Miss World platform.
It is a task that I do not take lightly and I intend to represent Botswana with the utmost humility and grace.
So were you nervous on the big day?
I was not too nervous on this night as I appreciated that there is more to crowning a queen than how she performs during the finale – and I was certain that I had done my absolute best in preparing for the competition!
I had convinced myself to have fun, to celebrate how far I’ve come and to be grateful for the beautiful journey I had.
I believe that this is the best way to tackle nerves: preparation and an attitude of gratitude.
Apart from winning, what was the most memorable part of your Miss Botswana journey?
Over and above spending time with beautiful, intelligent and loving young women, I thoroughly enjoyed the developmental sessions that we were exposed to prior to the finale.
Amongst others, I enjoyed the session on Project Management with Project 124 in partnership with Hollard, Yoga with SLV Yoga House, culinary training with the Institute of Development Management (IDM), Media Training with Yarona FM and many more.
As well as dazzling with your beauty, you spoke with eloquence in the Q & A section – your background in law and the public speaking this requires must have helped?
My background in law has definitely been resourceful throughout my journey, both in terms of knowledge and public speaking.
However, for the most part, my speaking capabilities are a result of being intentional about personal development and having taken time to prepare for the competition in this regard.
This includes practicing my public speaking and reading widely about societal issues.
What type of law did you study?
I acquired my Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Degree at the University of Botswana where I completed my studies in 2020.
The University offers a general legal curriculum. To this end, I am well versed in various fields of the law.
I am currently practicing at Kebabonye Business Law under my learned Managing Partner, Yame Tshepo Kebabonye.
Beauty and brains – how do you stay humble?
I believe that my beauty runs deeper than my looks and my intelligence and that it exists for one purpose, which is to serve and make people’s lives better.
I am committed to this truth and this is what keeps me grounded.
Growing up, when did you realise your beauty was out of the ordinary?
All my life, I couldn’t fit in the boxes that society tends to place us in.
However, I was fortunate enough to have parents, teachers and a community that recognised my potential and invested in my diverse attributes.
It wasn’t until the year 2016 that I became confident in being multifaceted and using this very fact to define and share myself with the world.
Tell us a bit about your childhood?
I come from a family of six, with two parents Mr and Mrs Chombo, and three siblings being two brothers and one sister.
I grew up in Maun where I attended Letsholathebe Memorial Primary School, Sedie Junior Secondary School and Okavango International School, following which I pursued my Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree at UB in 2015 and completed my studies in 2020.
Some of my hobbies include baking, swimming, playing guitar and singing, as well as writing and reciting poetry.
My interests include charity work, trying new dishes, travelling and revamping spaces and clothes.
Wow a diverse set of interests indeed! So what’s your background in the beauty industry?
I have been a pageant fanatic for as long as I can remember and have participated in a few pageants prior to joining Miss Botswana.
Over and above the titles I acquired at my primary school level, I have been crowned Miss Sedie JSS 2011, Queen Esther 2012, and Miss Women Empowerment 2nd Runner up 2017.
Your predecessor, Palesa Molefe made quite the mark during her reign – are you feeling the pressure to fill her glittery slippers?
Palesa truly paved the way for myself and every other beauty queen that will come after her reign and I am so grateful for all she has done for the pageant industry.
I do not feel under pressure to fill her shoes as I believe that by being authentic and staying true to my purpose, I too will uplift the lives of Batswana and leave a mark.
Have you been able to get any one-on-one advice from her?
I was fortunate enough to get a one-on-one with my predecessor immediately after my crowning where she shared wisdom nuggets which I am confident will help make my reign an impactful one.
I am also fortunate, through the Miss Botswana organization, to have many other experienced beauty queens to guide me through my journey, the likes of: Nicole Gaelebale, Oweditse Fafah Phirinyane, Moitshepi Elias and Lorato Lala Tebogo who are well versed in this industry.
What was Korolina Beilawska (Miss World) like? Did you get to talk?
Miss World, Karolina is one of the most genuine people I have met.
She is true to herself and her beliefs in the way she speaks as well as the way she carries herself.
This was a reminder of the power of authenticity, which our greatest power truly lies in being ourselves.
I was fortunate enough to talk to Karolina on a few occasions where she gave me wisdom nuggets on how she managed to stand out during the Miss World competition.
I am grateful for the opportunity and intend to ensure that it yields fruits.
What type of Queen will you be?
I am, and will continue to be a Queen who prioritizes service above all else.
I believe that the sole purpose for which we were all created was to add value to this world.
I also believe that the main mandate of a Miss Botswana is to uplift the lives of Batswana through her service.
I will be doing so through my ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ project which aims to create a conducive environment for the development of economically disadvantaged children through a program that equips their parents with the skills and behavioral attributes that are necessary in promoting a child’s emotional, social and cognitive well-being.
This project has been operating in Maun and I look forward to evolving it to have national impact.
How will you handle the fame and recognition that comes with the Miss Botswana title?
As I already mentioned, the sole reason for which I stand on this platform is to uplift the lives of those whom I serve.
I will use the fame and recognition of this platform to advance that mandate.
Further, I have dreams of advancing our beauty industry and using it as a tool to diversify the economy of our beautiful Botswana.
I therefore hope that my fame will align me with the right institutions and stakeholders who are essential in achieving this goal.
How does your calendar look for the next few weeks?
I would like to use these few weeks to introduce myself to Batswana and to set a tone for my year of reign by sharing the true essence of my title.
I will therefore hope to meet dignitaries, take interviews, as well as advance my social responsibility through my project.
What would you say to critics who believe beauty pageants objectify the female body and reinforce unhealthy notions of beauty – in other words, it’s all about looks?
The idea that pageants objectify the female body are based on an old notion of the meaning of beauty.
Beauty used to be associated with outward appearance. However, beauty in pageantry has evolved to mean more than that.
Beauty is now associated with intelligence, kindness, courage, and love for our community.
These are the qualities that make us beautiful and justify the relevance of pageantry.
Before being crowned, what did an average day in Lesego Chombo’s life look like?
Before my crowning, my main focus was my legal work and so my day was mainly taken up by work.
I am also a firm believer in physical and mental fitness and so the gym was another essential part of my day.
The highlight of my weekends were going to Church, catching up on my Faux Locs business and trying new dishes.
Over and above investing in my legal career, my health and my spirituality, I was intentional about setting time aside each day, to do a task that was in line with my preparation for Miss Botswana.
The question all men, and quite a few women, will want to know – is Miss Botswana taken?
Fair enough, on that note, Thank God it’s Friday, how will you be spending your second full weekend as Queen?
I am looking forward to using the weekend to rest and regroup, as well as to see my friends and family who have been supporting me consistently throughout this journey.
They are a great part of my heart and most certainly the best support system I could have ever asked for.