1. I became a pioneer for my country as the first ever Mrs Botswana
In the history of Botswana, no married woman has ever taken the courageous and bold step to enter the Mrs World pageant and represent the beautiful married women of Botswana. I am proud and honored to have opened this door and it is my hope and desire that we will continue in this new and unique way of recognizing the hard work, accomplishments and beauty of the married women of Botswana.
2. I achieved a lifelong dream of representing my country at an international pageant
In 1997, I entered the Miss Botswana (World) pageant and was honored to attain second place and be crowned the first princess of Miss Botswana 1997. Mpule Kwelagobe won that year and a couple of years later she was the first ever contestant from Botswana to enter the Miss Universe pageant. Mpule went on to make history as the first ever Black African woman to win the Miss Universe pageant. Mpule’s win brought all us Batswana a great deal of joy and pride and I believe she represented us exceptionally but my desire to compete at an international pageant never left. By competing in the Mrs World 2011 pageant, I finally fulfilled one of my big dreams.
3. I raised awareness and brought attention to issues that I’m passionate about.
Those that know me know that I recently designed, piloted and taught a college level course designed for young black women and other women of color. I believe that personal development is the bridge that takes us from where we are to where we were born to be and my passion and purpose is to instill this one principle in as many young women as I can. Mentorship and good roles models affect us in such positive ways and the more women of substance that stand up and lead by example, the more of a positive impact we can make in our families, our communities and society as a whole.
4. I reclaimed my health, beauty and vigor.
When I decided to enter the Mrs World pageant, I decided to be the best that I can be. I walked in looking my best and feeling my best. It was about being the most beautiful, healthy, fit and positive ME that I could be and going after this goal injected some passion back into my life and I channeled it into doing better with my eating and exercise habits!
5. I made lifetime friends.
I was loved, affirmed, validated, encouraged and understood and it did not just stop there, I met women who I instantly loved and appreciated and I poured into them in the same way that they poured into me. I laughed and cried and connected with such phenomenal women and my life is forever changed by that beautiful experience.
6. I brought “Noma” to the Mrs World pageant
One of the things that I heard most consistently before and during the pageant was “just be yourself” and that is exactly what I did. Some people loved it, some liked it and some…not so much :-). The victory here is that I accept myself as I am and that opens the door for others to do the same and that is one of the most powerful lessons that I have learned in my adult life.
7. I took my very first “solo” and much needed vacation ever since I got married and subsequently had children.
Since I got married and had children, I have never been away from all of them and my job all at the same time. What this experience has done for me is that it gave me time and space to reflect on my life and my life choices. It gave me a new sense of appreciation for my wonderful husband and my beautiful children.
8. I carried myself with grace and dignity.
The low moment in this pageant experience was the announcement of the top 14 the judges selected and sadly, there was not a single African woman or black woman or a woman of African heritage or descent amongst them-not a single one. At a point during the final night, there was talk of the all black women boycotting the pageant and just walking off. I was instrumental in negotiating with those that felt strongly enough to do it and asked them to maintain their grace and dignity even in the moment of such blatant disrespect and disregard. We all walked back on the stage and supported the winner, Mrs America; a beautiful woman with such a big heart that I felt the crown was in its rightful place.
9. I realized just how much my friends and family love, admire and support me.
During the week leading up to the pageant, I got so many messages of love, encouragement and motivation from friends and family from all around the world and I am forever grateful for that. I am so humbled by the amount of faith that “my people” had in [God] and what he could do through me.
10. I failed to get the crown but every failure takes me one step closer to my ultimate success.
At the end of the day, I did not walk home with the crown and that is okay because as I said, every failure (even though this was ultimately not a failure) leads to my ultimate success and my success is that of my husband, Ezra Moses, my children, my parents and family, my community and my country, the diamond of Africa-Botswana.
Ke a leboga bagaetsho. (translation: Thank you my brethren /my countrymen)