Botswana’s Britain based songstress Loraine Lionheart was one of the African women recognised at an award ceremony hosted in Geneva, Switzerland this past week. The African Women in Europe Awards (AWEA) are meant to recognise African women for their achievements while living in Europe.
The AWE awards do not necessarily recognise contribution in music only. They cover a range of sectors including but not limited to humanitarian work, entrepreneurship and fashion.
They have music artist/ entertainer of the year as one of the categories and that is the category under which Lionheart was recognised. She was voted artist and entertainer of the year. She describes her music as Afro-fusion. She sings in both Setswana and English blending traditional folk rhythms and influences from around the world. Her songs include ‘About a girl’ and ‘Mmangwane’ both of which she performed back in 2014 at Mantlwaneng Theatre (Westwood International School) where she held a charity concert.
Nominations for AWEA focus on people who deserve acknowledgment and recognition for various achievements while residing in Europe .The achievements range from personal contribution in the community they live in to what they have contributed in Africa. Lionheart said she did not put up her name for nomination. “I just received an email a few months ago notifying me of the nomination,” Lionheart told Lifestyle in an interview. She said the award was not based on any specific song.
“It is based on all of my music and also recognises my contribution in community service.” She said she felt extremely honoured and motivated to have her contribution both as an artist and as woman recognised.
“Support from one’s community is always crucial and I appreciate the acknowledgment for what I do, but I’m still however at an elementary stage of my career,” Lionheart said, adding, “for that reason I feel empowered and fortunate to have received this award at this stage of my career. I have vowed to play my part in taking Botswana music to the world and I believe this proves I am indeed doing just that.” She said she was also inspired by the many women from all corners of Africa who despite living far away from home continue to make positive contributions in developing the continent.
“I am also proud to have represented Botswana at an event of this magnitude. Lionheart, a native of Kgalagardi, dedicated the award to homeless children especially those in the streets of her home town Ghanzi.
“They are my little heroes and I believe I can utilize the platform this award has given me to assist them.
Besides her music Lionheart may especially be recognised here at home for her gigantic contribution in the ‘Please Help Abby Get Well’ fundraising campaign that raised funds for Abian Ntshabele’s medical expenses.
“To some of us it has been an exhilarating rollercoaster and I know in my heart that everything we put into this has been worth it and most importantly God has rewarded us for it with the privilege of having good health which we usually take for granted,” Lionheart said after announcing the campaign had reached the required amount for Abian’s expenses.
Abian was diagnosed with Metastatic Immature Teratoma, a rare form of ovarian cancer in January 2014. She has since undergone the operation to remove the cancerous tumor and is still recovering in Britain. Lionheart told Lifestyle she is grateful for the support she has gotten from Batswana and all her fans everywhere. “I also wish to thank the Botswana community in Switzerland who came to the awards ceremony to support me. It was very humbling.”
The A.W.E awards started in 2010. The aim is to recognise and honour African Women living, working, and studying, or in business in Europe. The need for the Award came from an assessment conducted through the African women in Europe website which has over 1000 registered members. There was the need to honour these women for being icons in the communities around them.
Candidates from all over Europe (AWE members or non-member) are nominated for the Awards. An appointed judicial board selects the most qualified nominee on each category. Thereafter the awards are presented to the award winners during the Award ceremony. The ceremonies are held in different cities in Europe and everyone is invited to join the Awards ceremonies.
The judging panel consists of carefully selected prominent members of the African Women living in Europe who have a proven track record and expertise in their various fields. They offer their insight, dedication, experience and impartiality when deciding on those who make it to the final shortlist for the public vote. AWE theme for 2015 was ‘Leadership and Honouring Women’s Rights.’