Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior, involving observed or perceived power imbalance.
It can happen in person or on social media platforms.
Some may argue that bullying is a rite of passage or even tradition here in Botswana.
It mostly happens in public schools.
“A little toughness builds character or fight back” some would advice.
This is how most of us grow up.
Even the teachers were bullies, a hierarchy is always clear in class from the brightest favorite student to the outcast who was called all kinds of hurtful names by the teacher and some students, ironically this black sheep was the school bully.
The world has evolved and more issues that were considered abnormal or taboo are now questioned and up for discussion.
About a month ago a student of 22 years old,Katso Kaone Monicah Tlhobogang posted a picture of her-self on a red carpet at an event.
This image went viral, as all social media trolls, bashed her and the outfit she wore.
By the end of that night a movement had formed, small and big company owners had pledged to support this young lady.
From fashion designers wanting to dress her to Ministers such as Honorable ThapeloOlopeng taking her out on a lunch dates.
It was a phenomenal, moving series of events that took place right before my eyes.
It demonstrated unity and a greater power above social media, which is humanity.
We had achat with Katso to find out about her experience, and what she looks forward to in future.
Q: How did the whole thing come about and how did it affect you?
A: My mother broke down the news to me, I read through the mean comments, not taking it seriously, and then the comments just wouldn’t stop.
It was a shock to me how people can say all those painful things, especially women and my peers.
I felt angry and exposed, why me out of 156 people?
I felt humiliated, knowing that once something is on the Internet, it is there for life, and my picture was shared and reposted by so many people.
Powerless, Icouldn’t walk alone anywhere, I had to be with my mom to protect me.
Q: What did you learn from the experience?
A: Whatever you do good or bad, people will always talk, they will support you and discourage you at the same time.
Even if they drag you down, stand up tall, dust yourself and continue to be strong, with your head held high.
I learnt to value myself more than anything else.
There is only one Katso and there will never be another one. Trust yourself and be strong for yourself.
Q: Share the opportunities that came with the experience.
A: The opportunities escaped me from depression.
The support Im getting from Batswana is something I didn’t expect.
Cyber bullies gave me a breakthrough I hadn’t anticipated.
I had lunch with HonourableThapeloOlopeng, who gave me P1500 voucher, and Woolworths also gave me a voucher of P1500, plus being their face of Winter 2019.
Lecold travels and tours, offered a free day trip to Sun City, which was on the 23rd March.
Prima clothing offered an all paid expense trip to turkey.
Q: Future plans?
A: I want to start a project, teaching students about cyber bullying, staring from the primary school in Ramotswa and as time goes on, grow to nearby villages and towns.
Also venturing into Modeling, which is my passion.
Q: Any message to those going through a similar experience?
A: Stay strong for yourself, never let your happiness depend on other people, be brave to face the bullies.
Keep your head up and never give in.
Next time you’re on social media and come across cyber trolls in action or you want to share what’s on your mind, but not sure if you may offend anyone. THINK.
- T: is it true?
- H: is it helpful?
- I: is it inspiring?
- N: Is it necessary?
- K: is it kind?
Don’t be mean behind the screen and If you spot if, stop it.