Last Friday evening, Afro pop sensation Ntando’s Umtonjani’lo was played again and again, presumably the chosen victory song for the Botswana National Youth Service Award winners. The biennial 2007 Awards got underway shortly after the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Maj. Gen. Moeng Pheto welcomed dignitaries who included Dikgosi, members of both the Diplomatic Corps and Parliament. The youth, who made quite a sizeable crowd, were sent an open invite over the radio.
“The National Youth Service Awards are a result of the 1995 Commonwealth Youth Ministers meeting held in Trinidad and Tobago,” the Minister said, “The awards are given to innovative and sustainable programmes and projects.
“The 2007 awards are based on six categories namely: Science and Technology, Leadership and Community Development, Tourism, Wildlife and Environmental Conservation, Sports and Recreation, Performing Arts and Visual Arts.”
Solly Reikeletseng, the Chief Judge in the BNYS Awards panel of judges reiterated the tenements for judging as being innovativeness and sustainability of projects and programmes run by youth aged between 12 and 29 years.
Reikeletseng cited examples of the digital watch and the Nike’s signature swoosh (tick) logo, the creation of which he attributes to youth. He said the Botswana National Youth Service Awards give opportunity for growth in youth owned businesses. He urged future participants to take their packaging and image seriously as ‘Packaging is everything.”
He went on to commend the Kgalagadi Breweries Limited for setting the ball in motion for future corporate involvement. KBL sponsored the Business Enterprise category to the tune of P24 000 for the top three winners.
Between performances by choral group, Gaborone Youth Singers, young folk revivalist, Ntirelang Berman, and the Police Band, entertained the people. Entrepreneur designer Lesedi Matlapeng’s Kefseddy Designs received the very first award of the evening, which was the best Business Enterprise. The award, was presented by Thabiso Botlhole, KBL Communications manager who was dressed by Matlapeng for the evening.
To the Ntando prize song, Oodi-based Botlhale Ja Phala danced onto the stage to receive their first award for their first position award in the Tourism, Wildlife and Environmental Conservation category. This was awarded to them for their paper making establishment. They were followed by the University of Botswana Wildlife Conservation Society and the Tonota-based beekeepers and breeders, Honey Bee.
In their freshly dispensed victory cloud of smoke, the National Youth Council Acrobatic Club came first in the Sports and Recreation category, followed by flyweight boxer, Lechedzani Master Luza; and coming in at position three was the Hot Shoes Dance Club, whose representatives walked on to the stage with a distinct poise.
Then came the ambiguous decision when a 12-year-old philanthropist, Gogontlejang Phaladi, won the Leadership and Community Development award ahead of a UB student initiative, Tshwaraganang Charitable Society (that came third) and the community empowerment workshop facilitator, Oteng Tlapeng (who won the second prize). It, however, provided a sentimental opportunity as grown ups (clapping and ululating) hung on to the impassioned speech by the little girl as she pleaded for an HIV/AIDS free nation, adopting Dr Martin Luther Kings’ speech.
“I am not the most intelligent,” the adolescent motivational speaker continued, “but parents need to listen to their children.” And, she said, if parents give their 100 percent attention, the children would excel.
Edward Moroka, a young energetic theatre practitioner, won the Performing Arts award. Moroka proceeded to address the audience on the demise of theatre and urged solidarity. He was followed by Ipopeng Theatre Group, a traditional music outfit, Retlaare ke Dipitse.
The Visual Arts top three awards were handed to an introverted assembly, as Mothusi Tau, who took the first award, Joseph Piet and Thatayaone Basupi bashfully posed with their awards for the media cameras. Piet and Basupi took second and third positions, and respectively.
Chobe-based Mogomotsi Gaebepe was the sole entrant in the last category of Science and Technology, presenting an aircraft he constructed from scratch without any aviation or engineering qualification or experience; Mogomotsi likened his elation to a fantasy of piloting a fighter jet.
A hidden category was then announced by Minister Pheto. It was pegged the Ministers Special Award, presented by the Minister himself. An evidently surprised Ogone Mokoko Gasennelwe, was recognised by Pheto for providing free legal services for HIV/AIDS related cases. It was a tender moment as Gogontlejang Phaladi was also recognised. To top it all for Gogontlejang, she got a piggy-back ride from the Minister.