By Melanie Nathan, April 30, 2013.
Botswana a country which, unlike many African countries which still boast old Colonial anti-gay penal codes, has shown a measure of tolerance towards its LGBT community, by not pursuing laws that could be interpreted against homosexuality. That would account for the fact that a Miss Botswana pageant contestant enraged the audience with her unseemly response to a basic question at the national event held at the Gaborone International Convention Centre on April 27, 2013.
Contestants Sharon Seno Mathers at the ‘top five stage’ stirred things up with her comment on homosexuality. She was asked by one of the judges to state 2 challenges that face Botswana youth. To the dismay of the audience Mathers listed homosexuality as the first challenge. Apparently the audience booed loudly before she could even complete her answer. As things heated up in the audience, Mathers herself continued to add fuel to her fiery answer and she went further , over the booing, saying:
“Homosexuality is a disease that can be cured”. “This attracted an even more angry response from the audience as they roared with anger and ranted in disapproval. She finished her answer with a shaking voice and said that she believes homosexuality can be cured because it doesn’t add up to the already low population of Botswana. She said that with homosexuality there is no reproduction to increase the population. In proceeding to conclude her answer, Mathers was almost inaudible as the screams of disapproval to her answer defeaned the hall. The second challenge to Batswana youth she listed was alcohol and drug abuse but she did not go further to elaborate as the odds were not in her favour.”noted Botswana Monitor.
The obviously shaken Mathers who had changed from keeping a smiling face to a sombre mood had to keep up appearances and wait for the other four girls to finish answering their questions, as she was the first to have been asked a question. She did not win the beauty contest and we know for sure she did not win the popularity contest either.
It would not surprise me if she thought her comments would be popular amongst the audience, as in a previous year an anti-gay comment received applause. However this shows that Botswana has come a long way toward tolerance and its Colonial penal code is probably now unpopular and outdated. Botswana is on the Northern border of South Africa, which enjoys a fully inclusive constitution. Botswana is a peaceful society and a great place for safaris.
Rosemary Keofitlhetse won the title of Miss Botswana 2013 and will compete in Miss World 2013, scheduled to take place in Jakarta, Indonesia this September 28. The first runner-up was Betty Seatlholo and the second runner-up was Khumo Leburu.
Miss Botswana 2013 Top 5 Finalists:
Sharon Seno Mather
By Melanie Nathan