“My greatest power lies in me being myself!”
The Miss Botswana organisation held a presser recently to update the media on Miss Botswana 2022, Lesego Chombo’s public engagements, which included a celebratory service at her church, Bible Life Ministries Tlokweng, where she led worship.
The well-spoken Chombo, who is unapologetically Christian and gladly refers to herself by the common descriptor ‘church girl’, spoke fervently about her ‘beauty with a purpose’ project and her church’s support throughout her campaign for the P150k crown.
What was going through your mind when you were announced Miss Botswana 2022?
Have you seem my pictures? Heeeee! (laughs) Throughout the competition, I had the mindset that it was my crown. My fellow contestants even knew, and it didn’t come from a place of arrogance or pride or to undermine them.
I believe in manifestations and affirmations; what you say is what you believe, and it’s what you see and what you become; that’s the attitude that I had.
I told myself that I had done absolutely everything I could possibly do, so the best I could do in the final moments was just enjoy how far I’d come.
Backstage, I took a moment to pray; I needed to centre myself and remind myself to be at peace with everything I had done leading to that moment.
After the crowning, I started to reflect on how much this means to me.
Your passion is to contribute to the betterment of the lives of economically disadvantaged children. What inspired that and have you always been socially conscious?
I was inspired by the home that I grew up in; my parents.
For a long time, I didn’t know what my purpose was.
I was looking for something negative that had happened in my life because some people become activists because of past personal experiences but I didn’t have anything that was so negative and that’s when I realised that was my purpose.
The fact that I grew up in a home that was conducive enough, in a society that has molded me and protected me from all these social ills, is my purpose, that’s what I should be promoting hence I want other children to grow up in an environment that fosters their emotional stability, as well as social and cognitive development.
I’d like to change the lives of economically disadvantaged children.
I intend to impact the lives of people I don’t even reach directly.
As much as I’ll be serving underprivileged communities, I believe that it is also a service to inspire people to pursue their dreams.
It’s a service for me to represent my nation with tenacity and with grace.
What lessons have you drawn from interacting with Palesa and the outgoing Miss World, Karolina Bielawska?
What I truly appreciated about the reigning Miss World is her authenticity.
I got to interact with her during a session with the First Lady; she’s comfortable in her own skin.
Even I placed expectations on her being Miss World; I expected her to sit, walk, and talk a certain way.
As much as we speak authenticity, even we, as pageant queens, do place certain expectations on ourselves based on what we think society in turn expects of us.
So, to be able to see Miss World do that – and I believe we’ve all seen Palesa’s authenticity throughout her year of reign – is something that I truly loved her for.
That is what I took away from the two queens; that all I need is to be myself and share that with Batswana.
I appreciate that Palesa has left big shoes to fill and I believe that I have prepared well enough and hope Batswana will get to know me for who I am.
The public’s love for Palesa overshadowed nearly everything. How did you handle that in the days leading to the finale?
I was able to separate myself from all the negativity – gore ‘ga le bantle’ – because that was purely subjective.
I had to master emotional intelligence and asked myself why people were saying what they were saying – and it was an issue of picture quality really- ultimately they were trying to get the best out of the organisation.
You have a very important platform; what would you say to cyber-bullies?
One of our top 10 finalists, Goitsemodimo Jogwe’s project is anti-bullying and I’m grateful that despite the many social ills that we are aware of, we are not truly attached unless we encounter someone who is passionate.
I was able to learn more from her about the importance of advocacy for anti-bullying.
I’m very happy to say that since the crowning, I haven’t encountered a lot of negativity.
We need to be aware that we are talking to or about human beings; I doubt those bullies would say what they say to anyone’s face.
There’s also an element of ignorance; we tend to shun things we are not fully informed about, or be uncomfortable with change because we have things that we, ourselves, need to deal with personally.
Do you think then that, as Batswana, generally, our morality is deteriorating?
No, not entirely.
Social media has promoted our freedom of expression to an extent that we forget that the expression of our freedom needs to also be in respect of other people’s rights.
I truly believe Batswana ba na le botho, in my experience.
What we see on Facebook is not a true reflection of us as a people; it’s just a front for social media.
Some people hide behind the platform.
We have principles that were instilled in us that are the pillar of our nation.
How are you going to use your Christianity to impact the world?
Yes, I am Christian, however, I don’t want to be perceived to be rallying for Christians only because I’m not.
When we speak of inclusivity, Mma Botswana ke wa Batswana botlhe regardless of their moral standards, beliefs, economic status or background.
I appreciate what the Christian community is trying to do to use this platform, through me, to bring glory to the name of the Lord, but we need to strike a balance.
The reason why it’s so beautiful that I’m a Christian is that Botswana is largely a Christian country; the president is a Christian.
Actually, former queens are, too; they just weren’t as vocal.
We need to ensure we don’t leave anyone behind.
Let’s talk about the swimwear section of pageantry; does that not go against your Christian values?
I was very intentional about making sure that I get to where I am in order to change perspectives.
As Christians, we are behind because we don’t want to be engaging in many things and, quite unfortunately, this is how the world is tailored.
If at all I want to build a Queen Esther type of nation, I need to be wearing this crown; in a position of leadership.
I am grateful that Bible Life Tlokweng has been rallying behind me in terms of voting, prayers, and words of encouragement, as well as financially.
Message to young Batswana…
Firstly: Dream as wildly as you can.
I keep saying I want to be Miss World and I think people believe it to a certain extent.
It’s a wild dream; you’ve to have the courage to dream.
Secondly: Find your purpose, you’ll be happy and no one will convince you otherwise.
Lastly: Be intentional; I believe in preparation, planning, being strategic – because education, talent, beauty or eloquence can only take you so far!
I aspire to be the next Miss World.
I want to be an ambassador of our nation on a global platform because I want to use the beauty industry to diversify our economy and establish Botswana as a competitor in commerce.
What book shaped your world?
‘A Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson. There’s a quote that goes, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”