A few days after being crowned Miss Botswana 2019-2020, Oweditse Phirinyane is still as stunning as ever. Rocking some pretty high heels, she walks into the Mmegi headquarters with her two princesses and a entourage that includes a security detail. Her life has suddenly transformed since she scooped the top prize that night in Selebi Phikwe. She believed she had what it took and beat 11 other finalists. Arts & Culture's MOMPATI TLHANKANE sat down with the brainy beauty that has been forging her own identity on the pageantry runway
Arts & Culture: Congratulations on winning Miss Botswana 2019-2020 and thanks for doing this interview.
Phirinyane: Thank you
Arts & Culture: Can you tell us about your crown?
Phirinyane: It feels great that I am the first person to wear this particular crown and the fact that it is the first crown to be manufactured here in Botswana. For once we tried something new and it shows that we do not limit ourselves.
Arts & Culture: Can you describe your crowning moment? What was your initial reaction when you found out that you are the queen?
Phirinyane: We knew backstage what was going to happen. We came prepared and ready. I think we celebrated at the back before we went on stage.
Arts & Culture: Can you tell us about your Miss Botswana journey?
Phirinyane: My gut just said it is time. In the past years I had no intention of auditioning, but this year I really wanted to. In terms of money challenges, I had friends who helped throughout my journey because they did not want me to worry about a lot of things.
Arts & Culture: Who did you consider as a strong contender for the title?
Phirinyane: All of them! You cannot enter a competition and underestimate your competitors. I studied all their strengths weaknesses and capitalised on that.
Arts & Culture: We understand that your qualification is AAT. What are your career choices going forward?
Phirinyane:I want to continue studying in Chartered Accounting, but I also want to do a creative course. I feel that I am multi-talented so whatever my heart desires I will do.
Arts & Culture: Who is your role model and why?
Phirinyane: As much as it sounds cliché my mother made me the woman I am today. The dignity I have is all because of her. She is never angry at the world. She is forever a positive person.
Arts & Culture: This pageantry has often been critisised in the past. As Miss Botswana 2019-2020 how are you going to help revive its image?
Phirinyane: When you are passionate about something you would not want to see it go down, you are the change that you want to see. There was no need for me to complain that things are not done right when I could do something to help the brand. I have the intention to be devoted to this. If I have connections that will help the brand I am going to use them. It’s not for my benefit, but the benefit of the country. I want future beauty queens to find everything in place. We need to improve and move forward.
Arts & Culture: How would you define your ideal Miss Botswana?
Phirinyane: She is proud about where she comes from. She is devoted to the process not the end result and she’s content. It has to be someone who is brave because sometimes people can try you. You can’t please everyone and you should be okay with that. It also has to be someone who is hardworking, respectable and relatable.
Arts & Culture: Now that you are heading to the big stage, which is Miss World, what pointers and realisations did you get from the Miss Botswana pageant?
Phirinyane: It is not only from the pageant but when you are in a competition with people you learn from them. The first princess, Uua Murangi has strengths that I have learnt from. The second princess, Winfred Motcher also has something that I have learnt from. You have to learn from different people because you cannot know everything. Murangi taught me that in life I have to speak for myself. Motcher taught me to go for everything that I want even if they say I don’t meet the requirements.
Arts & Culture: What do you think will be your biggest strength as you represent Botswana at Miss World in December?
Phirinyane: I am always myself. I believe in who I am and that’s my biggest strength. When you are content about who you are, nothing can shake you.
Arts & Culture: How has the competition changed you?
Phirinyane: It didn’t change the core of who I am, but it changed my lifestyle. We now have a security detail and a convoy, so life is good.
Arts & Culture: Pageantry questions are becoming more political these days. How do you handle such controversial questions?
Phirinyane: With pageantry you are not the queen of your thoughts, you are the queen of the people so try to put yourself in people’s shoes. Try to understand that when a person says something they come from their point of view. Also try to understand why you feel that way and create a balance between the two.
Arts & Culture: Now that you are the queen, do you feel that more people will listen to you?
Phirinyane: I hope so. I am hopeful that they will listen. I don’t expect them to, but am hopeful that they will.
Arts & Culture: What is the main thing that you are promoting or advocating for?
Skill and talent because mostly we are taught to go to school, get a job, get married and have a child. No one teaches us to do what we love, be happy with that and make a living out of it. So in Botswana there is a lot of talent and creative people who do not know how to utilise their talent to their advantage. My wish is to see these people taught entrepreneurial skills. We need to make a living out of what we love not what we are expected to do.
Arts & Culture: Tell us about how you were raised?
My father raised me in a male-dominated family. They are over protective because I am the youngest and a female. I am from a blended family with sisters and brothers from both my father and mother’s side. I have stayed with many families my entire life because I have never really stayed with my mother because of her work.
Arts & Culture: Why do you think Botswana has not won any prize since Emma Warreus scooped the second prize at Miss World in 2010 and how are you planning to end that drought?
I don’t like wasting my time because if I invest my time into something it has to give. I feel that the pageant is hosted late very close to the Miss World finale. If we had the pageant earlier it would give us time to prepare for the world stage. Come what may, I will make the most of the time that I have.
Arts & Culture: What is your advice to future queens?
They should come with the intention to win. But they should know that it might not be their time to win, but they have a purpose on the journey at that point. We all have our time to shine. You might not get the crown, but you could get a bigger door to open for you.