Doing it for charity

Out of over 50, 000 Chevening alumni, Kagiso Madibana was one of just four featured on the Global Chevening Impact Report.

It is fitting tribute to an impressive young woman.

The 31-year-old Bobonong native’s talents are as vast as they are diverse.

A published author and Social Entrepreneur with a background in the Media, Communications and Research, she owns a small media company called MD Africa Communications and is the founder of the charitable organisation, Nayang Association.

Her determination to inspire change has not gone unnoticed.

In 2015, Madibana was the first runner-up in a national literary competition and the following year was selected among the 30 inspirational youth in Botswana.

In 2017 she was chosen as Botswana’s representative at the African Union’s Youth and Gender summit.

The Voice’s Portia Mlilo had a cosy chat with the big-hearted beauty about her career journey, Chevening scholarship achievement and her charity organisation.

Kagiso Madibana

Q. How do you feel about being named in the recent global Chevening Impact Report?

A. It’s honestly quite humbling.

In its 35 years of existence, Chevening has produced leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from all over the world.

The report featured myself, the current president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, and two other scholars that are making an impact in their respective communities.

This is the greatest achievement!

Q. What was the requirement for the Impact Report?

A. I was contacted by the Head Office in London.

They told me that I was being featured on the Impact Report and I was asked to answer a few questions.

I think a part of it has to do with the fact that I am a proud Chevener and I use social media to encourage people to apply for Chevening scholarships.

I have been on a panel for scholarship interviewees.

In everything that I do, I mention Chevening because it has truly transformed my life.

Q. What impact did the Chevening Scholarship have in your career?

A. A lot. First of all I was only 23 years old when I got the scholarship and although I was working for a newspaper at the time, I couldn’t have possibly managed to pay for my Master’s at one of the UK’s leading schools in Journalism (Cardiff University).

Chevening paid for networking opportunities for scholars to travel to different parts of the UK and get to know one another.

We created bonds and it made life in the UK simpler for a lot of us.

This was my first time staying abroad so the adjustment was not easy.

When I came back I was able to further my career.

I went into lecturing, I did research work for Global Integrity/Mo Ibrahim, I managed to start the Nayang Association, open a communications company called MD Africa and eventually publish two books, which are now part of the literature syllabus in three private schools.

Recently, Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture moved to a building at BBC Wales and they picked me and a couple of notable alumni to place on their wall of fame!

Q. What are the requirements for one to be considered for the scholarship?

A. You need at least two years of work experience, a degree and your brand should fit that of the Chevening brand.

An added advantage is if you have volunteer experience in projects that have an impact on the community or if you have concrete plans of contributing to your community.

More information can be found on the scholarship website.

Q. What does your role at the UNDP entails?

A. I work for one of their projects, Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Drylands Ecosystems Project (KGDEP).

The project office is located in Tsabong.

I work as a Monitoring and Evaluation, Gender and Communications Specialist.

Q. Most people your age would prefer to work in urban areas. How easy or difficult is it to work in the village?

A. It is not easy at all but I wanted this job.

It didn’t matter whether it was based in a settlement or the city.

It has always been my dream to work for the Blue Helmets. Fortunately for me, I can adapt to different environments.

We face a lot of water shortages, there is only one mall and one ATM and it’s easy to feel isolated as an outsider but the perks are that we travel a lot.

This district has a lot of beautiful areas that I had never even heard about.

There is Camel Park where you can do camel rides and quad bikes.

Khawa sand dunes and the beautiful scenery along the Gakhibane-Bokspits routes.

I enjoy driving around the Kalahari landscapes.

The sunsets are magical!

Q. Sounds idyllic. Two years ago you were selected to represent Botswana in the African Union’s Youth and Gender Summit – how was it?

A. That was an eye-opening experience!

I had done a bit of travel as a journalist to conferences in different parts of Southern Africa but I had never been in a room full of opinionated young thought leaders from different parts of Africa.

Just listening to them talk about the issues they were facing in their own countries made me feel like I was not doing enough.

There was one young lady that I kept in touch with from Libya.

She kept talking about how nice it was to take a hot shower, have meals three times a day and not look over your shoulder because you could get killed at any time, especially as an activist.

Q. What does Nayang Association do?

A. We mobilise funding and resources to buy and distribute new school shoes, second-hand clothing as well as sanitary pads to underprivileged children in remote areas of Botswana.

It started in 2014. We have volunteers who do hiking activities in Mogonye and Malaka and raise funds.

We support a centre called La Modimo Charity in Sese Village with food, clothing, school shoes and sanitary pads donations.

We also mobilise other organisations to support the centre.

Q. What would you say are some of the association’s achievements?

A. Since 2014, we have donated close to 3, 000 pairs of new school shoes, clothing, sanitary pads and food to the less fortunate in different remote areas of the country (Kgalagadi, Kweneng, Boteti and Central Districts).

We have forged working partnerships with other charitable organisations/companies to help increase our reach as well as to share resources and ideas on how best to develop our communities.

These include the Lady Khama Charitable Trust, SOS, SA High Commission, Fedics Botswana, BACUCT Twaa! Cleaning services, Queves to name a few, as well as individuals who we always thank on our social media platforms.

Q. What are some of the challenges you face in this charity work?

A. Over the years we have gained members and volunteers across the country which has made the association even stronger.

Funding is always an issue of course but we never let that get in the way of what we need to deliver, even if that means using money from our own pockets.

I have support from the association Vice Chair, Lady Modise.

Q. Back to your writing talents, where do you get your inspiration from?

A. I have loved reading since I was a child, mostly because my dad used to make me read novels far beyond my comprehension at the time.

He would then sit with me so I could explain to him what I understood about the books.

I think that’s where my imaginative mind was born.

Publishing a book seemed like something that was meant for other intelligent or privileged people.

I didn’t have enough faith in myself.

Today my books are being read in schools, three of which are private schools that are using the first book (Baareng’s Journey) as part of their literature syllabus.

I am currently working on getting them into South African schools.

Q. What are the qualities a writer must possess?

A. Writers are story-tellers.

I believe the ability to tell your story in a way that your reader can comprehend and follow makes you a good writer.

Telling stories that people can relate to, question or take offence to also makes you a good writer.

Q. What advice can you give to aspiring writers?

A. Be open to criticism and don’t take anything personal.

Some people may not understand your work and some will tell you that writing is a waste of time.

You have to develop a thick skin and believe in your product.

Be patient because the writing and publishing process is long!

From proof-readers to reviewers to publishing houses shutting the door in your face, you will go through it all.

Try as much as you can to learn from those before you.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. Many people inspire me.

I draw a lot of inspiration from the founder of the Indian Development Foundation (IDF) Dr Pillai, Thabiso Mashaba of These Hands, Lillian Moremi, Gogontlejang Phaladi, Elsie Alexander, Honourable Bogolo Kwenewendo, Ndaba Gaolatlhe, Dumelang Saleshando, Richard Mabaso and Mmasekgoa Mwamba-Masire. The list goes on.

Q. Finally, Thank God it’s Friday, what are you up to this weekend?

A. I haven’t decided yet but I like travelling.

I might drive to Gaborone to visit friends.