Editor's foreword: Bay Tsimane

We celebrate these 50 amazing young people who have contributed to this nation in countless ways

With this inaugural publication we recognise and honour 50 young Batswana Change-Makers Under 40. As we celebrate Botswana’s 50th anniversary of independence, we also celebrate these amazing young people who have contributed to this nation in countless ways, and have promoted the image of Botswana through their outstanding achievements.

Organized by Gabz FM in collaboration with Mail & Guardian Africa, this initiative is a celebration of young people that recognises their contribution to the country’s development through courage, innovation and discipline.

Through a nomination process, we travelled to more than 50 villages and towns to ask the nation to choose young people who have made a difference and had an impact in their communities. We take great pride in recognising these achievements through this publication, with which we hope will inspire other youth.

We received close to 1 000 nominations, the youngest candidate being 18 years old, and went through a rigorous adjudication process which left us astounded at the talent we have in this country. We were inspired by these trailblazers in their respective industries, and the selflessness of our youth doing philanthropic work and all those contributing positively to the social development of our nation.

It’s certainly challenging to narrow hundreds of worthy candidates down to just a few winners, but we continue to be inspired by game-changers we see everywhere in our country. We had to look for excellence, innovation, commitment, impact and influence in the motivation provided by a nominator.

I must say the adjudication process was an inspirational experience for us as the project team and editors. We came out of it filled with pride that such amazing young people have come out of this nation. These young people have achieved such great things, they have been courageous in following their dreams, they have been selfless in their desire to help the less fortunate, they have been brave enough to dream big, and to aim for the stars.

They are strong and proud and we think that they are everything our nation builders wanted to create 50 years ago. They were born into an independent Botswana, and it was this country that made them — it gave them hope and a conducive environment to build their world and follow their dreams.

Their stories were touching, from the young woman with a rare form of cancer of the face who is now involved in creating cancer awareness; to the young girl who found out she was HIV positive at the age of 11 who has taken it upon herself to talk to other young people like her, to give them hope; to the amazing human rights lawyer who is also a poet; to the young man who has chosen to focus on boys by educating men on fatherhood and being actively involved throughout the pregnancy to bond with the mother and baby; to the brave young man who created a whole new clothing brand after selling clothes for many years from the boot of his car! They are endless, they are amazing, they will make you cry!

In addition, as editors, we chose 10 outstanding young people we wanted to recognise – trailblazers in their own right — who had not been nominated but have made an impact by flying Botswana’s flag high. The likes of Nigel Amos, Kaone Kario, Salim Kegodile and Mothusi Lesolle, who have contributed immensely to the country’s development in different ways.

This project that celebrates young Batswana is here to stay, and 50 Batswana Change Makers is the first of many themes that will highlight the achievements of our people and unearth many great stories about what people are doing as their follow their dreams passionately and contribute to building a lasting legacy.

Under the various themes we choose, these Batswana doing extraordinary work will be unveiled annually at a glittering ceremony which we hope will gain popularity and recognition as more people are encouraged to participate by nominating those trailblazers who inspire us to be our best.

This inaugural publication owes much to many people. Thanks are due first to Mail and Guardian Africa, where the idea originated, thanks are also due to the project team members at Gabz FM. The Botswana team has benefitted immensely from their South African counterparts’ experience and expertise as well as their enthusiasm for the project.

Most of all, thanks are due to Kenneth Moeng (project manager), Cynthia Tsumake, Thuso Motshegwe and Loretta Mekgwe, who have so generously given their time and expertise to make this project happen. I also thank our guest editors, Charmaine Revaka, Mike Olivier and Godfrey Ganetsang for their contribution in the 50 Batswana Change Makers Project. A big thank you to our sponsors and partners.

As the Blue, Black and White nation celebrate 50 years of independence, we proudly present 50 Batswana Change Makers. Be inspired!

Bay Tsimane is Gabz FM News Editor

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