Botswana’s new diamond

Oweditse Phirinyane was crowned the 53rd Miss Botswana over the weekend.

The 25-year-old, who likes to think of herself as the queen of DIY (do it yourself), took time out to speak to The Voice’s SHARON MATHALA as soon as she landed from Selibe Phikwe.

Phirinyane, along with other contestants, spent a week at the SPEDU region before the crowning night.

The tall, glamorous queen radiates poise. Clad in an all mustard number, flanked by her burly bodyguards and second princess, Winfred Motcher, Phirinyane created quite a stir during her visit to The Voice’s Gaborone offices.

Indeed, a few stiff necks were had as my colleagues strained to get a glimpse of the newly crowned queen.

Q. Thank you for joining us, Miss Botswana. As an ice-breaker, please tell me about yourself and your education background.

A. I basically grew up in Jwaneng. But when my father retired midway through my formal schooling, I then stayed with my paternal side of the family.

Then I went to boarding school.

I have never actually lived with my mother, come to think of it!

From there I went for my degree at Botho University.

Q. How did you survive the big city, with your parents back home?

A. It was really difficult.

I remember a time I had to do a re-sit for Professional Accounting and I had to pay that from my own pocket.

I had to come up with extra income because I was renting and had to pay for transport to school.

I started selling hotdogs, did manicures and joined modeling casts to make something extra.

Q. You took part in a number of beauty pageants before finally participating in Miss Botswana – tell us about those?

A. I have done modeling before pageantry, my first love was modeling.

My first big break came when I was five years old and I started modeling on stage.

My first international gig came about a year later in Pretoria.

I have also done the President’s competition with the modeling category.

My very first pageant was Miss Botho University where I was crowned the first runner up.

Since then I have participated in quite a number of pageants leading up to Miss Botswana this year.

Q. I hear that you had to be really pushed by your peers to join Miss Botswana – why were you so hesitant to join?

A. I wouldn’t say I needed to be pushed or convinced; I was just waiting for the right moment.

It had not come when they advised that I should join, it was not the right time and space for me.

I had to feel ready.

Q. So when did you realise the time was right? And what prompted you to believe such?

A. It should be early this year, when I returned from the global supermodel competition.

It took about a month or two for me to decide. My gut told me it is time.

Q. Beauty pageants are notorious for creating divides amongst the contestants. What was the relationship between the ladies like?

A. We built bonds. Ofcourse the experience is different from person to person but I believe that our group really looked out for each other.

We talked about everything and made sure everyone was on the same line of thinking about whatever situation arose at the time.

Yes, we knew that it is a competition but we came out of it as sisters.

Q. But tensions and egos are bound to rise when there is a group of people competing for such a sought-after prize.

A. Ofcourse where there is a group of people there is bound to be tension.

But what I think we got right was that we dealt with issues as a group and did not let any outside force come between us.

Q. Girl power indeed! Following the Fashion Show, when you were selected for the Top 12, did you have an inkling that you could go all the way?

A. I knew from the first day I auditioned that I would take the crown.

I was at ease. I was content and confident that I will make it.

Q. You spent time at the SPEDU region, how did you find it?

A. It was my first time visiting the entire region although I had visited Phikwe before.

There is a lot happening in that region, so much so that I don’t understand why I did not know this before.

We went around the region to the hot spot areas.

I learnt a lot about the region that I did not know before, and so many interesting things.

Q.Describe your emotions when the curtain was lifted and you made your first walk on the ramp at the grand finale?

A. Before you compete you should be mentally prepared for anything.

When I first went on there were technical issues but I kept my head high, put out a huge smile and soldiered on.

Q. Your name was called out last when the Top 5 was announced. You must have had some doubts then?

A. It’s a funny story because like you say I was called last of the Top 5 even though it is in no particular order.

I was wondering what was going on.

There was another contestant, UuaMurangi, who was a strong contestant and she was still there!

When they finally called out my name and Uua was still standing there I was really confused, actually shocked, until the surprise announcement was made and she joined us for the Top 6.

Q. What was going through your mind when the presenter declared you Botswana’s new queen?

A. We came back on stage knowing who is who.

That is why you will notice even the way we stood it was exactly how the results eventually came out.

I was in the middle,Uua was on my right and Winfred on my left, and so we knew already how it was going to pen out, after the question and answer session that is.

Q.Who is the first person you called after the crowning?

A. I received a lot of calls actually so never had time [to make a call].

But I talked to my sister and my mother later who where there at the event.

Q. The country has seen a worrying rise in gender-based violence against females. How do you intend to use your crown to influence positive change?

A. I think, more often than not, the boy child in most scenarios is neglected, and these are the perpetrators aren’t they?

I feel we should also support and help the boy child, because everyone should be on board when it comes to solving issues of abuse.

Q. What does it mean for you, personally, to be crowned Miss Botswana?

A. It is not only about the title, it is about who you are.

The title should not change who you are!

With the title one should extend a helping hand to those in need.

Q. What would you say to your 13-year-old self?

A. I would tell my 13-year-old self, don’t doubt yourself.

I actually feel I was more confident as a teenager because when you grow one starts experiencing a lot of things that may change how one perceived certain things including oneself.

Q. We live in an era of social media bullying, how will you use your position as Miss Botswana to address such issues?

A. Cyber bullying is perpetuated by those who have demons themselves.

It is not about the person who is being attacked, the problem is those who bully others.

We are a depressed generation who use social media bullying to fill some sort of void!

Q. Good answer! So, what other talents do you have?

A. I feel like I have a lot of talents really.

I can do anything I put my mind do.

I am a Gemini and Geminis don’t just do one thing.

So I do cooking, singing, drawing – I am the Queen of DIY!

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. I am mostly at the Tsholofelo Youth trust.

And I love reading about thing people wouldn’t normally read about.

I like knowing a little bit of everything.

Q. What is the one piece of priceless advice that the former Miss Botswana, Moitshepi Elias gave you?

A. She told all of us actually that being a Miss Botswana is a lot of work.

She told me I cannot give what I don’t have.

She also told me backstage that I gave a great show and that I should go out there and conquer the world.

Q. Is our Miss Botswana taken?

A. (laughs) I am not married!

Q. They’ll be a lot of young men happy to hear that! What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

A. I listen to Side Guru.

He is a motivational speaker.

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what will you be up to?

A. I will be reading The Voice.

My schedule, which I don’t handle anymore, is not yet out so I guess I will be doing the work of a beauty queen.