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Triumph in adversity

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DETERMINED: Thapelo Malani

Until the age of 12, Maitengwe-born Thapelo Malani could see. He was a carefree boy who was always the centre of attention as he liked to crack jokes and make people laugh. On his quiet days many would wonder if he was sick.

But in the blink of an eye everything has changed for this remarkable being. In four days, Malani now aged 22 years, had completely lost his sight due to a medical condition related to nerves. He explains that in those life changing days, his sight drastically changed, and soon, the sun was burning his eyes. He was a Standard six pupil and life as he knew it changed. As if that was not enough, a couple of years later, he would suffer another medical condition that tested his faith.

At the age of 15, he suffered a stroke that left him paralysed and bedridden for two years. But even with these two major challenges, the first born in a family of two (he was blessed with a sibling when he was 19 years) is still soldiering on, smiling and upbeat about life. Malani is the only visually impaired comedian in Botswana. He is using his blindness to share stories with his audience at the many stages that he has graced (both at home and in South Africa where he has shared the stage with some of the top names of comedy).

Comedy gave him something to smile about during his dark days. And he is using his craft to make others who might be going through similar situations to smile. What sets him apart from the rest is that this dynamite is a hard worker, and he is dreaming big. Take for example how during the interview, he asks this reporter to borrow him her eyes so that he can see her. He is the type of person who is destined for greatness. He now wants to capture the African audience, and grow his footprints to Europe and other markets in two years-time.

He was hurt when he lost his sight in December 2009 and left with many questions. “When I lost my sight, people did not believe me,” he explains adding that they thought that he was being his usual playful self. He spent the whole of 2010 at home, not going to school. But instead of spending his life wondering about why this happened to him, he accepted his new life. He later enrolled with Mochudi Resource Centre where he learnt Braille. “I accepted my new life, and looked forward to the future,” he said remembering all the dates and events as if it was just yesterday.

At 15 years he had another setback. On December 20th, he suffered a stroke that left him paralysed for two years. He was admitted at Tutume Primary Hospital and later transferred to Princess Marina Referral Hospital. From Marina, he was taken to a hospice in Metsimotlhabe. And physiotherapy really helped him, although he suffered one setback after another until 2014. In 2016, he turned to comedy and has not looked back since. The same year, he performed at the HICOFEST festival as well as the GIMC festival.

“I don’t give up easily,” he explained. He realised that since he is not educated, he needs to do something to earn a decent living. He has two companies registered which provide various services in Construction, supplies, and Air-conditioner installations and fridge repairs.

The companies are managed by his uncles who are very supportive. Malani urged others who might be going through various challenges to invest in self-development. “When you are looking for assistance from outside, you must have started something instead of starting with zero pula. That way people will take you seriously,” he said.

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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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Wame – a little einstein in the making

Irene Shone

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LITTLE EISTEIN: Wame Kangumbe

Wame Petit Kangumbe, 12, is an Optometrist in the making.

Kangumbe envisions taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to the next level by inventing something scientific in the future.The standard 7 pupil at Ratsie Setlhako Primary School in Palapye impressed everyone during the BIUST 5th STEM Festival and Research and Innovation Symposium with her sharp answers during the fest.

The little Scientist believes that the entire country should embrace science and do more experiments, to find out more about our physical environment and shed dependency on foreign countries in terms of Science and Engineering.

Her secret to relating with different topics so well, is research and more research. “I like researching. We have Wi-Fi at home, and so I often use my mother’s phone to type different topics and interact with how everything is related. I always prepare for the next lesson through researching,” she said.

She said the poverty in Africa can only be eliminated through STEM. “If everyone could take interest in STEM, we would go further in terms of uplifting the status of our economies as African countries,” she said.

She urged her peers to believe in themselves and be serious about their education. “When you write down your notes in class, make an application of what you want out of them. Everyone’s life is in their own hands,” she advised.

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