Thobolo finds thin line between art, makeup

Hildah's special effects makeup
Hildah's special effects makeup

Hildah Thobolo, a 23-year-old woman born and raised in the Orapa is one of the most talented make-up artists locally.

Her father John Thobolo, who is also a talented artist who paints nature, raised her. Just like any child that copies everything that a parent, elder or model does, Thobolo grew up watching her father working on his masterpieces. That is when her love for the arts grew daily.

“Whenever my father did his paintings at home, I would sit and observe how he uses colour.  I knew that when he mixed yellow and red then it becomes orange,” recalls Hildah.

“To me it was fun. I was always there whenever he was drawing and having to be taught some paper sketching was the most exciting father and daughter moment.”

However, when she started her junior secondary school in Orapa, at only 13-years of age, she discovered her abilities to tackle a wide range of arts, thus being old age painting, nature drawings and basic makeup.

Funny enough, Hildah who was still a teenager would go to school wearing makeup her sister bought for her.

Hildah says throughout the day, other students would ask her to do the same make up on them during lunch hour and that was when she realised that she could make a living out of her talent.

The young prosthetic special effects and basic beauty makeup artist says her inspiration in the film makeup industry comes from Hakeem Onilogbo from Nigeria. She reveals Onilogbo is the best special effects makeup artist in Africa.

“I love watching Nigerian movies and I learn a lot from them. Onilogbo’s makeup caught my eye and I always observed how he makes people look like they have been stabbed with a knife or their skin looking like they have been burnt by chemicals,” she says.

“I have watched his YouTube videos, goggled all the kit he uses and how he makes fake blood to look so real.”

Her first attempt was a second-degree burnt skin from a chemical. She posted the picture on Facebook where it immediately started trending on different social media platforms.  Hildah started getting invitations from different individuals and the corporate world asking her to work with them on films.

She says Limkokwing University invited her for their parade to portray the art and Nhambe Museum invited her to showcase her art live under the theme; ‘Gender-based violence.’

That was when Hildah knew that she was born to be a makeup artist because every artwork she does is self-taught.

She also points out that Botswana is still trying very hard to improve the film industry and make it marketable. 

Hildah says her work only has real exposure abroad in countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, United States of America, Australia and others.

“I remember waking up to find my pictures posted in the Sotambe Zambian page on Facebook written, ‘shout out to Botswana for having a wonderful film makeup artist’. It was very overwhelming and Batswana were very proud of me,” she recalls.

However, just like other artists in the local industry, Hildah faced some challenges in her journey.

She points out that people who do not understand the effects of the make up have called her names such a ‘Satanist’ and it was very disturbing.

There are even Doubting Thomases out there who accuse her of editing her work with some phone application. She had to convince them by downloading a video of her doing an injured knee using makeup with blood all over.

Due to fear, the young artist says she cannot allow herself to work with just anyone, as some people do not want to pay for her worth.  She adds that she would like to open a college in the country to help young people like her. Hildah has been admitted at the London University College where she will pursue her Masters in Prosthetics.

Editor's Comment
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