“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes-then learn how to do it later”. Richard Branson’s words must have echoed in Lian Kenalekgosi head when a friend suggested she try her luck at Miss Heritage International Botswana.
Having no experience of being in a beauty pageant, the 22 year old fourth year Ba Isago student decided to take the challenge and auditioned together with a group of other beautiful hopefuls. “I had never entered a beauty pageant before,” she says. “When I heard about the Miss Heritage International Botswana casting at Masa Centre earlier this year I decided to grab the opportunity.”
A few days following the auditions, Kenalekgosi got the all-important call and since then she has been preparing herself for the international pageant, scheduled for India in the first week of December. “I have so much faith in myself and I believe I can bring home the crown.”
As is always the case, being crowned the local queen is only the beginning. The road to an international pageant is by no means a walk in the park and Kenalekgosi knows that. Against 40 other hopefuls from different countries, the 22 year old has to compete for a spot in the final 15 if she is to make it to India for the finale. Only 15 ladies who get the most votes in the pageant’s online voting platform get to strut in front of judges and the public come December.
Kenalekgosi has been running her own campaign on social media to get Batswana to cast their votes. Getting sponsorship to assist prepare for the pageant has been tough. “I have been using my own school allowance to fund promotions and encourage Batswana to vote for me,” she tells Lifestyle. Miss Heritage is a reality television international Beauty Pageant that promotes world tangible and intangible heritage. The pageant which has over 50 countries currently franchised to participate at its World Finals has a strategic partner in the form of a women’s empowerment organisation called ‘We for We’, based in India.
Miss Heritage was founded on the basis of incorporating all nations, having young unmarried beautiful women from the ages of 17 – 28 from different backgrounds to be involved in the process of initiating positive sustainable development to the world through the use of beauty pageantry to promote world heritage and tourism.
As part of the pageant, contestants are expected to undertake projects that are in line with the pageant’s promotion of heritage and tourism. They are to present their work as part of the competition. For her part Kenalekgosi wants to take the conservation route and encourage fellow Batswana to develop appreciation of the natural beauty Botswana has to offer and work together in preserving the flora and fauna. “We have to learn to travel domestically and appreciate the beauty Botswana has to offer before we cross the border to marvel at the sight of other countries. “The concept for Miss Heritage Pageant compliments the vision, mission and objectives of (UNESCO) United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Convention of 1972 and the 2003 Convention on safeguarding cultural heritage.” It is not the first time that Botswana has entered the Miss Heritage pageant. Mendry Gaotsenelelwe was crowned second princess at the then Miss Heritage World held in Johannesburg, 2014.
Voting for Miss Heritage International 2015 continues on http://www.missheritage.org/contestants2015.html.