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Gogontlejang Phaladi’s life story

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 At a tender age of four, popular child prodigy Gogontlejang Phaladi shocked her pre-school teachers when she told them that she wanted to go and look after her paralysed mother.

Her mother Onnameditse Phaladi had been involved in a car accident. “One day I was shocked to find her cooking rice,” says the mother. GG, as Gogontlejang, now 23, is known, has always been a rare child. What her mother recalls from when she was eight months old is that her nanny fed her traditionally-brewed drink because she would not sleep. She would then oversleep and when she woke up, her parents realised that something was not right with her. “Blood tests indicated that she had been fed Bojalwa jwa Setswana and when we asked the helper, she said it was because she was refusing to sleep,” she says. But again, even as a toddler, GG would always clean up after her mess and liked order, according to her mother.

She says that even when they forced her to watch children’s TV programs like Sesame Street, GG would refuse and opted for Molemo wa Kgang, BBC and CNN. Her mother says that even her bedroom was always adorned with pictures of state presidents and policy makers. What she also recalls is that at the age of five, Gogontlejang faced rejection after rejection when she wanted to register her NGO called Gogontlejang Phaladi, Pillar of Hope Organisation. The NGO is mandated with community capacity building, human rights advocacy, promoting gender equality and doing humanitarian work. It took seven years to finally register it. “They were saying she was young and suggested we register it in our names, which we refused. We even sought legal assistance,” she says. After her NGO got registered, then came another challenge: Traditional leaders would not let her address them at Kgotla meetings.

Her message was simple – That the poor, sick, women and children should be cared for. To them, it was a sign of disrespect for a child to address elders. But her mother says after finally allowing her to speak, they started wanting more of her. “They stopped demanding a Letter of Permission and started to praise her good speeches,” she says. While at primary school, Gogontlejang turned herself into an activist for children’s rights. Her mother says that she stood up and spoke against teachers who were sending pupils back for not paying school fees and for coming to school with uncovered books. “She’d go straight to the head teacher and say that it was not the children’s fault that their school fees weren’t paid,” she says.

Because of her rising stardom then, Gogontlejang was regarded as mentally-disturbed by members of the public. People were saying she behaved like an adult and that she should just be a child and play with other children. It was at the age of seven when her parents took her to South Africa to see psychologists who confirmed that she was perfectly normal, and that she is a child prodigy. “They told her that she was seven but had the mind of a 17-year old,” says her mother. Her father, Greek Phaladi, describes her as a humble and kind child. He says that he observed many differences in her from her age-mates when she was growing up. “Even at church, she maintained order and would report her cousins for misbehaving, yet she was five years old,” he says. Not too long ago, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II recognised her as the 10th Commonwealth Point of Light award recipient for her humanitarian work.

In psychology research literature, the term child prodigy is defined as a person under the age of ten who produces meaningful output in some domain to the level of an adult expert performer. Child prodigies are rare, and in some domains, there are no child prodigies at all. The list includes, among others, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an Australian who first took up the harpsichord when he was just three years old. He composed his first piece of published music at age five, and by his teen years, he had already written several concertos, sonatas, operas and symphonies.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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