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Flying the flag high

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Boikanyo Trust Phenyo counts being conferred with an honorary doctorate by the Academy of Universal Peace last year in Tirana, Albania, as one of the achievements that give her much joy. 

But, it is just one of many that she can list. The Diplomatic Mission, Peace and Prosperity has also appointed her a Peace Missionary; an honour given to those who have made an outstanding contribution to society. 

As a young girl, Phenyo knew she wanted more out of life. She put in the work both in class and on the track field. “Although school was quite far, I ran the entire distance every day and was never late.” 

Her efforts bore fruit and won her early successes. She would go on to amass many more awards and gain recognition for her community building projects. 

After teaching mathematics and physics at Letlhakane Senior Secondary School for four years and getting involved in the modelling and pageantry business, she decided to expand her horizons and move to the United Kingdom. 

Phenyo has now called the U.K. home for the past 10 years. She acknowledges that living in a foreign land comes with opportunities–but it also presents challenges. She says of her experience, “In addition to culture shock at the beginning, I had to battle subtle or hidden racism, which led me to resign from my teaching job and invest in what also drives me: social entrepreneurship”. 

Influenced by her passion for pageantry, Phenyo invested in building what is now an illustrious portfolio. 

In 2012 she was crowned Mrs Commonwealth International. She says the pageant’s encouragement of the participants to run charitable projects for the benefit of their home countries aligned with her vision. 

Her Botswana heritage remains dear to her and she continues to use her access to various platforms to plough back to the country of her birth. “It has been humbling to see some of the projects I have undertaken come to fruition. These include raising funds for learners’ needs, raising 10,000 pounds for school amenities and acquiring a bus for learners.”

Other projects that have generated interest in Botswana include extending support to Team Botswana during the London Olympics. She is the recipient of numerous accolades: The Empowering African Women in Europe Award 2013, African Achievers Award 2013, Panache Global Recognition & Award for Excellence 2014, International Achievers Award (IAA) 2014, Top 100 Outstanding Africans Making a Difference 2015, Best Motivational Role Model 2015, Outstanding Supporting Judge 2015 and Top 100 Outstanding Africans making a difference 2016, Lifetime Achievement Award from the IAA 2016, Ladies Of All Nations International Global Ambassador (LOANI) Award 2016 & 2017.

 “These awards have certainly catapulted my speaking engagements and media presence. I hope to continue engaging with many more women especially from home to not just share ideas but to aid each other in claiming our rightful place in society.”

Although Phenyo is proud of her achievements and embraces the status that comes with the recognition, she is quick to point out that it has not been a solo effort. 

“We are a team and run the Botswana Community UK. This is a non profit organisation whose main mission is to promote the culture and tradition of Botswana in the UK.” 

This has meant hosting numerous events including exhibitions and taking an active role in Botswana-led events. She regularly helps with the organisation of Botswana Independence Day celebrations in London, and recalls Botswana’s 50th Golden Jubilee Celebrations with pride. 

“ I appeared on the BBC documentary Black and British – A Forgotten History”. 

She has appeared in various publications, has had interviews with Touch Base Africa and Fabulos Magazine. 

She has been a catwalk choreographer and guest judge at numerous beauty pageants including Miss Commonwealth, Miss England Rugby, Miss Portugal UK, Miss London Borough, Miss Africa GB, Miss Southern Africa UK and many more. 

She was honoured to meet the royal family at the Commonwealth of Nations Reception at Buckingham Palace in 2013 and recalls being completely bowled over by meeting author Lance Greenfield. 

“Living in a foreign country has not been easy, however, with hard work and focus it is possible. The opportunities are endless. As a lifestyle specialist, my business is growing. I now have a client base of almost 8000. I have enlisted for an MSc in Business Management so I can attain skills to expand.” 

Phenyo has packaged her skills to assist her clientele improve their lifestyles. 

In addition to being an author, she also offers massage therapy, counselling, model training and beauty pageant consulting. 

With all these achievements, Phenyo certainly deserves the unexpected selection for the Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts awards (BEFFTA) 2018 People’s Choice Award for her philanthropic work and leadership. 

Visit her websites at www.boikanyo.com and www.princessboikanyo.org

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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out

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Wildlife and National Parks department has ruled out Anthrax as a killer disease for elephants along some villages in the Okavango delta.

As of Friday last week, at least 110 dead elephants were discovered in areas of Seronga, Gunotsoga and Eretsha in the past three weeks and were suspected to have died from Anthrax.

However the Anthrax laboratory tests have come back negative, leaving the government departments searching for more answers. 

“Laboratory results have ruled out Anthrax and we are awaiting more results,” explained regional Wildlife coordinator in Maun, Dimakatso Ntshebe.

Ntshebe said his department through the help of veterinary department services are still conducting further tests to find out whether or not this mysterious disease is not a result of poisoning.

The disease according to Ntshebe causes the giant’s front legs to weaken and therefore the unwell animal walks in uncoordinated manner and ultimately drops to its death.

“We don’t know what could be the cause of this disease but we are working around the clock to find out and hopefully work on the cure,” added Ntshebe.

Some samples are to be sent to South Africa for further testing. “We could have taken other samples to the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but because of COVID-19 that brought everything to almost a standstill, we could not send them,” Ntshebe explained before adding that, “before coronavirus outbreak, Botswana and Zimbabwe were in talks and have entered into some agreements including exportation and importation of certain medications, but we have not yet concluded the matter regarding samples, that is why we have not been able to send samples to Zimbabwe.”

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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