The crowd that had congregated at the Millennium Jazz Restaurant in the breezy evening of Valentine’s Day, bubbled with enthusiasm as eight women aged over 40 years, confidently strutted and boogied to down-tempo songs by Letta Mbuli, and Max ‘Shaluza’ Mntambo as only mature women can.
Twelve women had answered the call for entries for the first Ms Millennium Jazz Restaurant, but eight women, with diverse personalities, body shapes and sizes remained. All the contestants were mothers, who counted cooking and watching soccer as favourite pastimes.
The mature beauty contestants strutted in the square formation, which is no longer popular, because beauty pageants have adopted ramps. Back then, it seemed, the way a beauty queen took a turn defined her grace. Barbara Gore, who is 43 years old and a mother of three, and Margaret Sebobi, aged 48 years with six children, used the old-school style to appreciative whoops and cheers from the crowd.
An anomaly, during the pageant, was that the question and answer session was not amplified. For their jazz trivia question and answers the ladies hurdled with the panel of judges, which was made up of Dr Tiro Sebina, who is a lecturer at the University of Botswana, Rhoda Sekgororoane, a businesswoman and politician, and Nono Seile, Botswana’s newest vocal jazz debutant.
MCs for the night, McJon Mosenene and Zenzele Hirschfeld, explained to the audience the organisers had granted the contestants request for a hushed question and answer session, as they feared being laughed at for giving wrong answers.
At the end of the night, a plus-sized Felicity Onnalenna Bogatsu, who is 43 years old, emerged as a winner. She posed flanked by first princess Margaret Sebobi, a hospital orderly, and second princess, Kelly Adams, a housewife.
Felicity, who works as a buyer, made her first statement as Millennium Jazz Restaurant’s ambassador saying that Millennium was not a bar, but a clubhouse. She later told Sunday Standard that she had only been in a pageant once before.
“As a child in 1976, I entered the Tiny Tots contest, which the football clubs back then would merge and host.” She said. “I was among those who requested this pageant as a way of having an evening of light hearted entertainment, and I am happy that management complied.
When asked about her winnings, she said, “I believe prizes are for the family, I will unwrap them alongside my children at home.”
Twenty-seven year old, Julia Rowayi, after the crowing said, “It is good that these women are confident with themselves to enter into a beauty pageant, which means putting oneself under scrutiny, regardless of their body shapes and sizes.
“This pageant reminds me to love myself as a whole package; I am inspired to go for my dreams even though they may be considered as not conventional.”
Shima Monageng, co-owner of Millennium Jazz Restaurant said, “The pageant was among the treats that we were giving our patrons and with the entrance fee waived, we are also grateful that a suitable crowd attended, which was also positively responsive to this unique pageant.
“The Question and Answer session might drive people to realise that though they may love jazz music, they should know more about it,” Monageng said.