Rising above the storm

A touch of colour amid the confusion

With her vivid red hair, bright yellow jumpsuit and bold blue lipstick, Basadi Masimolole nee Molelekeng is one of the country’s more colourful characters.

With a bright personality to match her striking dress sense, the lively and often controversial team leader of Miss Botswana restructuring sat down with The Voice’s Sharon Mathala to discuss beauty pageants, divorce and social media.

Q. Good Afternoon, being the face of the controversial Miss Botswana pageant must have been exhausting. How did you handle the pressure?

A. It was not easy, that’s for sure!

Dealing with the national pageant can never be easy because there are too many voices and opinions on how things should be done and when they should be done.

What really helped me was meditation.

It really came in handy during this period in my life and although I am not a religious person, I am very much spiritual.

Q. Why did you decide to join ship with the pageant? You were bound to receive a lot of criticism?

A. I like messy brands; I like changing people’s ideas and perception about brands so to be fair, yes, I knew right from the start that it was not going to be an easy job but someone had to do it.

I have learnt a lot from the past three months and, with me getting little to no sleep, it was no easy task.

Q. The public did not really warm to the idea when you announced that there would only be two contestants, how was that phase for you?

A. You know September 11 I think will go down as one of those days I will never forget.

Immediately after I put out that there would only be two participants the whole country went mad crazy, I tell you.

And to be fair I think it was because they did not understand the vision and what it is we were trying to do.

I remember even my mother called me, the media was on my case as well and I literally had to put out a brave face.

The show was going to go on and the show did go on, I must admit however that on the last day the production was not up to par but it is something that we will improve on next year.

Q. What can Batswana look forward to in the future with regards to rebranding Miss Botswana?

A. The journey will go on, I know there will still be challenges in the future but they are challenges I am willing to face.

Next year we will have a full-blown show with scouting and all the like.

What I can assure Batswana is we are working around the clock to restore the trust in the brand.

Q. At some point sponsors pulled out of the pageant. How about now, will all be well for our Queen to participate at the Miss World stage?

A. It is not an easy road but we will get there.

Yes it is true that sponsors bailed out at the last minute but we still managed to go ahead with the show.

We are going to find a way to send our Queen to China next month, she will participate and even when she comes back we are going to make sure she is treated like the Queen she is!

Q. What is the biggest learning curve for you from your Miss Botswana experience?

A. The biggest thing really is that Batswana will only support you at the finishing line, which makes it very hard for us, especially in the creative industry.

You know we have had people who did not believe in the show up until the very last day and we get calls everyday of people pledging their support.

I have also learnt to be more persistent and calm.

Q. You were once involved in a public scandal, how did you manage to come out of that one?

A. Actually it was this very newspaper that tried to bully me!

I mean, week in and week out I featured in the newspaper’s gossip column; I was told by someone that it was because my life was ‘of interest’!

Don’t get me wrong, I was not angry with The Voice then and I am still not but because of my experience I am in the process of starting a blog on bullying and how to handle it.

Q. Tell me more about your company, Celebrations of Africa.

A. My company is really about contributing towards changing perceptions on African Brands and people by coming up with end-to-end solutions for brands.

We also aim to contribute to changing the African narrative from formative to positive through storytelling, repackaging and re-positioning of brands.

Q. How did the idea come about?

A. From the exposure I got from my travels and my previous work.

You know there is so much we can share on our African stories but we don’t get to do that.

I remember I travelled to Maun over the festive season and I had a lot of people who followed by post want to come to Maun.

They knew about Maun but after seeing and hearing about how most people descended to Maun that is how I thought this could actually work.

Q. Why did you leave MultiChoice?

A. The company was changing; the environment was changing – there comes a point where one has to make the decision to leave.

I mean I learnt a lot from MultiChoice and, from the exposure I got, actually came a long when it came to now choosing which career path I wanted to take.

That is how I came up with the idea of Celebrations of Africa after noticing the gap in telling and selling African stories to the world.

Q. What would you say to those that believe you spend too much time on social media?

A. I would say they don’t get it.

See I get most of my gigs on social media.

I am a full time blogger and intend to break into TV one day.

The world is not just about day jobs, no we have long evolved from that.

You see I make a lot of engagements through my social media and my following has increased because of ‘spending too much time on the phone’.

Q. So besides pitching and social media, what else do you do?

A. Right now my focus is mainly on blogging and Miss World, but during my spare time I catch up on TV because I like following the latest trends.

I also read a lot and I’m a runner so that is what I am up to when not working.

Q. What are you passionate about besides social media engagement?

A. Travelling, I like travelling!

I remember when I took a break from my Masters I travelled to the United Kingdom for backpacking.

So yeah that’s what I love because with travelling one gets to experience and learn a lot of new things and ways of thinking.

Q. You have an ex-husband now, what would you say to those women who are stuck in marriages that are just not working?

A. I would say you will leave when you are ready.

I am saying this out of experience because I stayed for like a whole year-and-a-half even after my ex-husband moved out of the house, before I could file the divorce papers.

I had to go for counselling because speaking to a neutral person is really important.

Q. Is Basadi taken now?

A. Basadi is very much available!

I am waiting on the right person who will take me for who and what I am.

And to be fair, I can definitely get married again even after my experiences with my first marriage.

Q. TGIF, what will you be up to on Friday?

A. I have a very important pitch I need to get to.

And these are some connections I made through my social media engagement, but after that I think I will just retire home.

I love me some me time.

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