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International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day
March 13
09:45 2018

Kwaku Gyanteh

In this belated celebration of International Women’s Day that fell March 8, Global Post ponders women’s relationship with men and celebrates four women in the media in Botswana (Blurb)


Much more than a card-carrying, sharp-tongued feminist, Bakang Akoonyatse is a devoted mother, a loyal friend and a soul baring writer. From her early beginnings as a self-styled rap groupie, she has gone from fraternising with men on the male-dominated rap scene to being an agent of change. She transforms one-dimensional musicians into multi-dimensional characters with more to give of themselves. She saves rappers from themselves like a Harriet Tubman type of Botswana rap introducing them – reluctantly so – to concepts beyond their ingrained patriarchal perspectives, thus allowing them to treat and hold women in their surroundings with a much higher regard. Her conversational articles across many digital publications such as TrueAfrica, the Mail and Guardian SA, OkayAfrica over the years give perspectives on women’s issues such as sexuality, botsetsi, child bearing and misdemeanor very candidly, subverting age old truths and cultural norms. As an influential voice in the Twittersphere, she stands out as a unique voice that is rabble-rousing yet sincere, blunt yet soothing, and harsh yet necessary for growth.


Tshepo-Jamillah, or TJ, as her friends call her, is a 24-year old peer educator who runs Higher Heights for Girls (HHG). The young lady gained infamy last year when she was photographed at the #IWearWhatIWant protest in Gaborone waering jean shorts and the words “Hoe is Life” emblazoned across her belly.  The image created a polarised conversation on social media and presented an opportunity to interrogate women’s place in society, policing, sexualization and a host of injustices that women suffer. She handled the backlash well online and on various radio stations she was invited to as a guest. Tshepo’s continued dedication to peer education in sexual reproductive health rights and responsibilities, gender-based violence, intersectional feminist politics and other human rights issues has resulted in her being the go-to individual for speaking engagements.

In her quest for inclusivity, she has set up a wellness camp called Soul Cleanse Sunday that she describes as a no homophobia, no transphobia, no ableism, no sexism zone to “create a network of women who are taking deliberate care of their mental, physical, emotional, social health for their own wellbeing”.


The writer and satirist has appeared on the BBC, Al Jazeera, SABC and many other international platforms. A casualty of Botswana media’s slow embrace that celebrates its own only when they have been crowned outside our borders, she became one of the first figures to attain public figure status solely from the Internet. Siyanda’s views on feminism, democracy and dynamics of gender relations, usually delivered in a sarcastic tone, endeared her to an audience much easier in comparison to her contemporaries whose acerbic outlook pushed away rather than enlightened. Her analysis of the ever-changing dynamics of gender relations, some extremely serious and hilariously comical, end up in some perfectly crafted tweets. Her feminist and pan-Africanist views on Twitter have granted her access to publications and speaking engagements all over the world accelerated by her #IfAfricaWasABar viral tweets of 2015. She is currently lecturing, post-residency at Iowa University in the US.


A fixture of the now iconic Exodus Live Poetry circuit, TJ Dema set a bar and became a source of inspiration for the next generation of creators and grounded human beings, a fact most, if not at all, the women on this list can attest to. Along with Andreattah Chuma, they stood shoulder-to-shoulder and beamed a torch for women in the creative arts – a statement that they could achieve excellence on the national and world stages and move people with their artistry. TJ Dema is a travelling moderator and enjoys multiple university residencies across the globe, courtesy of her writing and performance skills. In addition to recently completing her Masters at Lancaster University, she won the 2018 Sillerman Book Prize for African Poets for her collection entitled “The Careless Seamstress.” As she continues to achieve success, she further solidifies and legitimises the arts as a worthy vocation for the skeptical post-Independence generation and remains a trailblazer in the eyes of Generation Z in Botswana which has been most keen in developing the creative scene.











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