Connect with us

Entertainment

Renewed hope for the youth

Published

on

Renewed hope for the youth

He is one of the youngest Ministers in the country’s history.

However, at the age of 36, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, McDonald Chilliboy Rakgare already boasts a rich political background.

From his days as the University of Botswana (UB) School Representative Council (SRC) President, to his vocal time as the Botswana Congress Party Youth League (BCPYL) President before joining the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Rakgare is well travelled in the world of politics.

The charismatic politician also has an insider’s understanding of the media, having worked for Yarona FM and Duma FM.

Ten years after it started, Rakgare’s political career reached new heights at last year’s general election, where he received 6, 350 of the 11, 116 votes casts to claim Mogoditshane constituency from the Alliance for Progressives (AP).

This week, Rakgare, in his capacity as a Minister, visited The Voice newsroom for a tete a tete with reporter SHARON MATHALA about the vision he has for the youth.

Mindful that some responsibilities will be lifted off his large Ministry with the introduction of two new Ministries, after exchanging pleasantries he shares…

Q. How would you summarise your political journey?

A. My political career kicked off when I was still a UB student back in 2009 and I subsequently joined the BNF.

I later resigned from BNF to BDP after a few differences.

With the BDP I believed in the leadership then of Rre Motswaledi, Ntuane and others.

I was with the youth committee and I differed on many occasions with the then President Ian Khama so I left.

Khama wanted to destroy our country and we now have our country back with President Mokgweetsi Masisi!

I then joined BCP, which was well organised.

I was with the BCP for six years and it really shaped me into the politician I am today.

Q. But why then leave the BCP? Did the party’s decision to join forces with the umbrella have anything to do with it?

A. In 2014 we differed with the UDC on principle as the BCP. Subsequent to that was the report of Rre Motswaledi and the UDC still failed.

Some things are internal but the UDC is not organised, its leader is not organised!

I had a serious problem because should Batswana vote for us we would have a problem of leadership.

Q. How would you describe the leadership skills of President Masisi?

A. Masisi has a love for the country. He is an intelligent man.

The BDP needed someone to appreciate the work of the elders and veterans.

The democrats are happy. They have renewed hope for the party. He runs the party with consultations and inclusion.

Q. Taking you back to when your win was announced for the parliamentary seat of Mogoditshane constituency. What was going through your mind?

A. Some said I did not show emotion. What was going through my mind was how I was going to take the constituency forward and the people who voted for me, how I will fulfill my promise and change their lives.

I knew I would win; the team had done its homework.

The people liked President Masisi, even from the Kgotla meetings one could see.

Q. But one can never be too sure in politics, what made you so confident of victory?

A. We went into the election with six incumbent councillors who had done pretty well.

But also our party manifesto spoke volumes towards the transformation Batswana and the people of Mogoditshane yearned for.

Q. Moving on, you were eventually appointed a Minister. Did you expect such an appointment?

A. I never expected it! It came as a surprise to me despite the background I have in sports and issues that affect the youth.

When I received the call and was summoned in to be told, the first thing I did was ask the President if I had heard him properly and he gave me a piece of paper to sign against my name.

I thought the President would go with someone more experienced but he knew what he wanted, and I guess that was me!

Q. You are taking over a position once held by heavyweights such as Tshekedi Khama and Thapelo Olopeng. Did that not shake you a bit?

A. Not at all, Rre Olopeng did his part but there are ways in which I look at things.

What we will do going forward is not about me.

I have an able team which I am confident will steer this ship forward.

Q. What is your vision for the Sports sector?

A. What we will do is give young people a platform.

Our youngsters are doing very well in different sporting codes.

The issue is to give them the right tools, the money.

We will resource our sporting codes; we will build the facilities and introduce sports and coaching at primary level.

If we want to compete with international stars we need to give our stars a fair chance.

Q. And as for the Arts?

A. We have young people who are creative and innovative.

We will support them fully.

We will capacitate them to create wealth and facilitate the process.

It is still a bit too early for me to go into detail but we do have a plan going forward – let’s have this conversation again in six months.

Q. Any international events planned for Botswana to host? I know the Forbes Under 30 Summit is coming to town in April, apart from that?

A. We have two in the pipeline.

I would not want to reveal which – we already have teams on the ground working around those.

I can assure you, they will be a first for Botswana!

Q. Sounds intriguing! How do you intend to address issues of alcohol and drug abuse amongst the youth?

A. About 60 percent of our population is made up of the youth and more than half of them are unemployed.

This you are likely to get as a government.

We as a government need to seriously introspect and come up with job opportunities for our youth but that is a long-term solution.

For now government will build a Rehabilitation Centre as well as be more visible in schools with campaigns and mentorship programmes.

Q. Is that not what the alcohol levy was for? Why is it taking such a long time to deal with this phenomenon?

A. That was the intention to have and build Rehab and Rehabilitation Centres with it, but that has not happened.

Q. What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

A. I would tell him he can be anything he wants.

You can be anything you want in life. Just focus.

Take every day as it comes – look at me, I am a full Minister!

Q. What can you say to the youth who abuse social media and in turn bully others?

A. I stand here as a Minister and I really don’t know what can be done.

I log onto social media everyday and it’s disheartening what I see.

I think its starts really from home.

We should start having the conversation with our kids at home around the use of social media.

Q. Do you still play football?

A. Of course! Yes I do, very much so.

I am a really good midfielder, I might add.

These days, however, they play me up front.

You should come watch one of the games.

Q. Apart from ministerial duties and scoring goals, what else do you get up to?

A. I spend time with family because honestly I hardly have any spare time.

I leave early for work and come back really late.

Q. Thanks God It’s Friday, what will you be up to this coming Friday?

A. I will be addressing a Kgotla meeting in Mogoditshane.

Q. Any parting words?

A. Well I will just say corruption has no place in the current administration.

The rot in Government is huge, people went all out to destroy our country and steal from us.

We are going to have an investigation.

There is something in the works which will assist us with this.

Advertisement

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entertainment

Simply the greatest

Published

on

*THE HUMBLE HISTORY MAKER

With her career seemingly drifting into oblivion, stained by a failed drugs-test six years ago, the country’s most decorated athlete produced arguably her greatest comeback earlier this month.

On 14 March, at a low key University of Botswana Athletics Club meet, former 400m World Champion Amantle Montsho qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now postponed until 2021).

Displaying the determination and guts that has defined her time on the track, the 36-year-old defied her aging limbs, clocking 51.22 seconds to smash the required qualifying time of 51.35. In doing so, the Maun native once again carved her name into the history books, becoming the first Motswana to qualify for four Olympics.

Having missed out on a place at the last Games due to suspension, for Montsho it represents redemption of sorts and a final shot at a medal she was .03 of a second away from claiming at London 2012.

The current Commonwealth Champion sat down with Voice Sport’s Portia Mlilo to look back over her eventful career, a career that might contain one more incredible high.

Who inspired you to become a professional athlete?

I joined athletics when I was doing Standard Three in 1992 and by then I was doing it for fun. Our Coach at Bonata Primary School, Thobogang recognized my talent and nurtured it.

I started running 100m and 200m but by junior school I focused on 400m. When I finished my Form Five in 2003, Botswana Athletics Association called me for out of school camps and that was when I started to take it seriously.

I started competing in regional competitions. In 2006, International Athletics Federation (IAF) called me to train at their high performance training center at Dakar in Senegal.

Why did you choose to be a runner?

Athletics is the number one sport in the world followed by football. In football, when you win as a team you share the prize money while in athletics the money is all mine (laughing).

There are also many athletics competitions in a year in different countries and that is why I decided to be a professional runner.

I used to play softball but after one of my teammates got injured I decided to quit and focused on athletics.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I run! (laughing). I wake up, take a shower, eat breakfast and go for training.

Is there any athlete who motivates you to do your best during competitions?

There is a lady who makes me take athletics seriously, the American track and field athlete, Allyson Felix.

She is the 2012 Olympic Champion, a three-time World Champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist. She really inspires me.

I always wanted to be a champion like her!

What do you regard as your most memorable race to date?

The World Championships in Daegu 2011 when I won the Gold medal. When approaching the finishing point I really enjoyed the moment.

It was very competitive and I was fit. I was with Felix at the front and I managed to beat her.

What is your favourite part of being on the track?

I enjoy it when I compete with the best athletes and when the fans cheer us on.

Most Batswana used to follow and support football and were not too bothered about other sports codes.

But I made them like athletics and take it into consideration!

I enjoy most when I approach the finishing line because I go all out from 150m. I also enjoy when there is an athlete who gives me competition.

Massive congratulations on being the first athlete from Botswana to qualify for four Olympic Games. How much does this mean to you?

This really means a lot. It shows I am doing something right. I had so many challenges in this career but I remained focused and do what I love most.

I am very thankful to our government, Botswana National Sport Commission, Botswana Olympic Committee, our association for giving me the necessary support to become a professional athlete.

This should be an inspiration to others, especially female athletes, because we go through a lot of challenges. You are expected to be married, have kids – people forget you also have other interests like sports career!

What makes a great athlete?

Discipline, determination, dedication and focus. You must have goals and set targets to achieve them. You have to follow your coach’s instruction.

Growing up, I was very disciplined. I missed out on a lot of things that young people considered ‘cool’.

I did not drink alcohol or smoke. It was only two years back when I could have a glass of wine, drinking not to get drunk.

You should be careful what you eat and drink. You must be disciplined, otherwise your career will be very short!

You mentioned your Gold medal World Championship winning run as your most memorable race. How did it change your life financially, professionally and socially?

My life changed. I was now the country’s diamond, a role model so I had to do things professionally.

I even had to be careful what I shared on social media because now I had a large following, both locally and internationally.

Amantle Montsho

After winning Gold, I had a few endorsements and Nike increased its sponsorship. We have seen a lot of athletes struggling with life after sports so I decided to invest in property with the money I was making from athletics. So far I have six houses in Block 7 Gaborone.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a top athlete in Botswana?

Lack of facilities! Athletics is a big sport and it is high time the country establish a high performance centre.

The other challenge is when you do not deliver as the nation had expected during major competitions.

People will start bashing you and put you under a lot of pressure.

Money and fame often make people lose focus – how do you ensure you are not led into temptation?

Like I said, discipline is important. Refrain from things that will ruin your career. Avoid unnecessary trips and misusing money.

Invest for the future and do not lose focus. In life you should know what you want then it will not be easy for someone to shift your focus.

Just remain humble, respect others and manage your finances well.

How do you relax during the off-season?

I love travelling so I visit my friends in other countries. I also go shopping, especially when I have stress.

I make sure I spend time with my parents and my siblings.

The 2020 Olympics have been postponed until next year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. How is this going to affect your form and what are you going to do to ensure you remain fit?

It is unfortunate that the games are postponed to 2021 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

I am on form and I was ready to compete. Now facilities, stadiums are closed and we do not have access to the track.

The President has also announced social extreme distancing, which is going to make it difficult to do roam work.

I will be indoor training at my house to keep fit – fortunately I have a gym.

Realistically, what was your target for the Tokyo Olympics?

My target was an Olympic medal. I had trained very hard to win a medal. This was supposed to be my last competition.

I believe I have done my part in sports and it is time to quit. I still have to talk to my coach and see if I will compete next year since I have qualified.

We’ve touched on some of the highs of your career. At the other end of the scale, what has been your most disappointing experience as an athlete?

Eish, the doping case! I tested positive for a prohibited substance methylhexaneamine at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

That was the worst experience I have ever had. In 2015 I received a two-year ban.

I couldn’t go home because I was afraid; my father was very angry. I also had to hide from the media and the public.

I will be forever grateful to the government for engaging a psychologist!

I stayed at the hotel for two year and I even changed my number. I couldn’t go to the mall or interact with people.

At some point I thought of quitting. The psychologist advised me not to and I also believed I can bounce back.

After three months I started training on my own because one of the conditions was that the association was not suppose to help me with anything.

I made a great come back and in 2017 I qualified for the World Championships.

How did it happen?

I went to a pharmacy in Gaborone to buy an energy drink. The pharmacist recommended the drink and said it does not have any prohibited substances. I was so depressed.

How do you intend to spend your retirement?

I want to start my own academy. I want to turn one of my houses into an athletics academy.

This is a way of giving back to my country and contributing to athletics development. I was supposed to start athletics coaching course after this year’s Olympics.

And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

Extreme social distancing. I will be locked in my room.

Continue Reading

Entertainment

A superstar explodes

Published

on

A superstar explodes

Born Atlasaone Molemogi, ATI is one of the country’s most gifted singer-songwriters, blessed with a creativity and energy few can match when it comes to live shows.

Sadly, away from the music, the rapper’s turbulent personal life has been slightly less successful.

While he takes conspiracy theories around the dark world to a whole new level, ATI has been fighting demons of his own.

The ‘Khiring Khorong’ hit-maker is now a self-proclaimed recovering drug addict having checked himself into rehab in late 2018.

This week, the rapper invited Voice Entertainment’s SHARON MATHALA to his suburban home in Gaborone to speak about the latest controversies surrounding his career.

The Voice team arrive to find the flamboyant artist, complete with exfoliating face mask, cleaning his room.

Pleasantries are exchanged and the singer seems in high spirits.

Before the interview begins, however, Deputy Sheriffs and a lawyer turn up to slap ATI with summons.

He is in debt but is optimistic he will come back stronger.

In an emotional roller-coaster of an interview, ATI talks about sexual relations, drug abuse and the bitter fall out with his former manager that have led to recent rape allegations.

Q. Thank you for inviting us into your home, how have you been?

I have been good. I have been blessed.

Q. Why did you decide to speak out against your manager? Where you not afraid this would tarnish your brand?

Even more important is protecting the victims who are derailed into thinking that what they are told is A when it is actually B.

So this is more about the victims not me.

Q. But all of this allegations happened under your nose? Did you not notice anything?

I am very observant but with my manager it was like there was an energetic block.

He controlled everything around me.

Even with the people that I interacted with.

He understood my weakness and he played around that.

Q. Oh! What exactly do you mean by ‘he played around your weaknesses’?

I am one open person, I am an open book.

He knew how to play around that because I vested so much power into him.

All my relationships, he went behind my back and intimidated the people.

He had a hold on a lot of people I have tried to get into a relationship with.

Q. What exactly do you mean?

I will tell you something, I have never been in a relationship.

I have tried.

I have even tried to get into a relationship with money.

I did not understand the culture of a relationship and when I did my manager got in the way because you know people are not comfortable about their sexuality.

Q. Why?

I was dealing with abandonment issues.

I was too clingy with who I am trying to love that they don’t even have time to love me back.

My manager intimidated my partners about their sexuality.

This had been going on for too long until I decided that I should go to rehab.

Q. So you checked yourself into rehab, you were not talked into it by family?

Yes. I checked myself into rehab because nobody cared about me.

I looked at myself as worthless.

My level of self-esteem and confidence was so derailed to a point whereby I did not want to be seen.

It got so bad towards the end of last year.

I will tell you something, he painted a picture of a chaotic character.

Q. But trouble seems to follow you. Do you know this?

Yes. Yes I do.

Q. Why?

Most of the time it’s ‘purpose learnt’ it is not poor decision making.

Most of my chaos is orchestrated by people around me.

Even before the drugs I know they planned all of the bad things against me.

A lot of things have happened and were meant to happen to me.

Q. What do you mean?

The drug industry in Botswana is (….breathes heavily) I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to still be sane.

Q. When did the drugs start?

In 2015.

Q. What made you dependent on drugs?

I was not dependent on drugs.

I tried to escape the reality of pain.

The painful part was coming face to face with drastic measures afterwards.

I had to cut the cord with everyone I know and evaluate the relationships that surrounded me, from work to love relationships.

When I did this, I found out that most of my relationships were orchestrated with malice by the one person I gave enough power to destroy me.

Q. Please elaborate further and make it clearer for me, what do you mean by this?

Circumstances always turned around to make me seem crazy.

I started questioning my reality and during this time I did not want to talk to nobody.

I was literally down on my knees and I look back now and say I am lucky to be alive.

Q. Do you think the drugs played a big part in your problems?

I don’t blame anything or anyone.

I just believe things happened the way they were supposed to.

I will tell you I am the best version of myself right now.

If happiness was to be gauged from 1 to 10, I am at a 5.

Q. Have you ever been at 10?

No. I have never been on a 10 but it is my first time at 5, that I will tell you!

Q. What drug was it?

I would not want to say.

I will tell you though that it was a drug that made me calm. Is it important to know?

Q. Why were you missing shows?

I was not well.

I couldn’t.

I was mentally unstable.

Wa nkutlwa gore ka reng? (do you understand what I am saying?) Mental health is very important.

When they found out that I was on to what they were doing with all these rapes, they literally tried to make me go crazy!

Q. Did they buy the drugs for you?

No! I bought the drugs for myself.

I mean I was addicted, I still am but I am recovering, you know what I am saying.

I am recovering from a mental problem.

Q. But your fans did not know all of this.

They were screaming your name and you did not come.

That is the thing, that is what I am telling you that [screaming fans] it is just not enough.

I was losing my mind.

I mean if I missed a show because I broke my leg it would be easier to understand, right?

What would you rather lose, your mind or your leg? The mind is everything.

Q. Are you in debt?

I am still trying to pay off all that I owe especially from last year when there was a lot of chaos.

Just right now you saw that I got a summons but I don’t live life by sulking.

I take it with grace and I am going to move through this.

Q. If you could undo one thing, what would it be?

I would not change a thing.

I would not because the level of understanding, what I like and what I don’t like, has heightened right now.

I understand now what it is that can advance me from point A to point B and I do understand what manipulation is.

I have lots of knowledge right now that I would have not known if I had not gone through what you say is a negative space in my life.

I mean I have tried to commit suicide but I am still here.

Q. You attempted suicide?

What I mean is that I now understand what a child who says I am going through depression means on a personal level because I have been through that.

I now understand that it is not the drugs we should be fighting, the fight is to help one accept what one does not want to accept.

It is what I call healing the inner child.

Q. Any plans of having a family of your own in the future?

Depends on what you mean by family. I don’t know what family is.

Q. Children of your own?

Umm, NO!

Q. Do you have a financial advisor?

No but I have had a financial restrainer and that was my mom.

She used to co sign with me.

Q. Have you ever been broke?

I define poverty on a spiritual level.

I have been poor with money in my pockets.

That whole time of ‘Khiring Khiring Khorong’ what I did at the time was the most suicidal thing ever.

I kept myself busy as opposed to dealing with what I was going through.

Same as taking the drugs; I always felt guilty for taking drugs because I felt bad when taking drugs and then coming to have a conversation with you.

I knew that was not me. It ate at my spirit.

But all I want to do is do good.

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what will you be up to?

Probably in the studio making music.

*ATI’s manager refused to comment on the allegations against him.

Continue Reading

Sponsored ads

Advertisement
Advertisement


Trending