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Meet Bakang, one to watch

· News,Interview

Bakang talks hard work, scholarships and dreaming big

Hardworking, excellence and maturity are all words that can be used to describe Bakang, a former resident of SOS Children's Village Serowe in Botswana. Bakang's love of art and his leadership abilities drove him to strive to be the best, which is exactly what he did.

Bakang and his brother Emmanuel were taken in by SOS Children’s Village, Serowe, a charity run orphanage, aged just 10 and 12 years old respectively. Even with a painfully difficult start, the brothers showed themselves to be caring and studious in nature.

"It is never too late to be the best"

Bakang's initiative, maturity and hard work shone through, so in 2017, we asked him to work alongside us as a volunteer at our summer camp, to help give the children the experience that he’d enjoyed so many times when he was younger.

Bakang meeting Sediegeng Kgamane, the Paramount Chief of Bangwato in Serowe when working with Project Volunteer.

From left to right, David, Bakang, Vicky, Sediegeng Kgamane, Gelina and Alex.

A social worker from SOS, Serowe spotted an advert for a scholarship programme. The NGO behind the programme provides educational support to orphaned children that show exceptional academic performance. They aim to give young people the means to bring positive change to their countries. Bakang worked diligently on his application and through a rigorous selection process, 50 entrants were narrowed down to just one. Bakang earned a scholarship funding his study at the university of his choice a year after his brother had earned a scholarship to study in England in a similar scheme.

Now aged 20, Bakang is in Uganda, coming to the end of a six-month university preparation camp. We caught up with him as he prepares for his course, Animation with business management and entrepreneurship, at the university of Detroit.

Who are your inspirations in art and design?

I have many artists inspiring me in the diverse areas of art. Among them, I look up to Wilson Ngoni, the local painter and author, who keeps me wondering about his ability to create photo finish paintings and Stephen Bennett the United States portrait painter who inspires my colour technique. My friend also high school ex-classmate, Aobakwe Letamo introduced me to digital art which seems to be worth investigating.

How would you describe your style?

I like playing with colours. I also have a deep curiosity in seeing the results of every experiment I work on. Among the successful artwork I have designed, there is a unique technique displayed by colour application and content. This extraordinary technique is inspired by Stephen Bennett’s way of colour usage.

When did your interest in art begin and how did it come about?

I realised my talent during primary school ages. While in junior school as well, I realised my extraordinary skills and techniques which nurtured my interest in doing more art and perhaps diversifying it with other fields such as business and digital influence, in the future.

Have you always been as hard working and determined as you are now?

As a student, I have always competed for a higher position in every subject. This requires constant hard work and focus. I am still determined to create unique work that will contribute to my development and growth. It is never too late to be the best.

Is that a common attitude in SOS Children’s Village Serowe?

I have observed that some children have declining academic grades and only few are determined to carry on and work hard at school. However, as children, we all have something we are good at. Should there be opportunities in such fields of sports, marimba, scout movement, I believe they will have achievements as well.

You and your brother have achieved so much, has this had an effect on the children that still live in SOS, Serowe?

Every achievement is earned through hard work and persistence. I think for the majority of my brothers and sisters, there is clear evidence that hard work pays. It is also a lesson to them that having a good character equals having and advocating for your dreams.

How does it feel to be a role-model?

I am proud that I have reached this far. It is a blessing and a pleasure to be a point of reference. It does not only help children but also helps me improve my character and social responsibility as well as further mature.

What difference did it make to have a supportive community and how important do you think that will be going forward?

Having SOS backing up my socialisation stage academically, socially and financially, taught me to also do something for myself and that’s meeting this opportunity halfway. The relationship I have developed with SOS is strengthened by maintaining academic excellence and good character. As of today, I treasure the relationship and with this earned integrity, it shall remain tactful even beyond withdrawal from care.

How has everyone at SOS Serowe reacted to your news?

Upon learning that I have earned a scholarship, my guardians were thrilled and satisfied that what they expected is now a reality - better school and education. As for my brothers and sisters, they were surprised and came closer to learn more about how it was possible to have earned international exposure.

What was the application process for your scholarship like?

The application process was swift and easy because it was online. Uncle Thabo, my social worker, also assisted me with some office services such as computers, internet, printing and scanning.

And how about the university preparation camp in Uganda?

Interaction with people from diverse areas of the world has improved my international community comprehension, academically and culture-wise. Apart from university preparations, I also learned, with my African brothers, the common challenges that African states face and possible solutions, which we hope to work on upon graduation.

I understand that you hold the position of Student President there, what does this mean and how did it come about?

As a student president, my primary duty is to ensure smooth running of the camp through advocating for other students to the administration. I worked tirelessly to make sure students enjoyed their stay in Uganda. Upon showing interest in leadership, I was democratically elected for the position.

Your maturity and interest in the Project Volunteer trip led to us asking you to be a volunteer, and help run the summer camp. Did you enjoy your time?

The whole camp was demanding and fantastic. I feel blessed to have been part of the camp because I was exposed to the volunteering platform. I also realised my ability to lead and coordinate the activities we had to present to the children.

 

I had an enjoyable, fabulous experience. I learned to spend quality time with the children in other SOS villages in Botswana. I also established connections with other youths. On the other hand, I enjoyed the company and liaison with the volunteering members as I experienced a cultural exchange. The camp motivated and inspired me to proudly be part of Project Volunteer.

What was your favourite part?

It was a painting session with children in SOS, Serowe. I asked Vicky [a previous volunteer] for a cloth to wipe the floor, she instead asked me to find it since I was selected to volunteer due to the credibility I have; hard work and leadership.

Did you learn anything about yourself?

Vicky's response birthed me a common sense and fuelled my impact on the activities as I greatly believed that she was right. I should use my leadership skills to find solutions. Thanks to Vicky!!!

In everything that you have achieved so far, what is the biggest life lesson that you’ve learnt?

Negative friends have a bad influence in one’s progress and contribute to one’s downfall. With my dream to get a lion share, I have learned to surround myself with inspiring and positive people.

What are your dreams for the future?

I am interested, upon graduation, to contribute to the art community through locating entrepreneurship opportunities within the art realm, for the talented and unemployed youths. My interest extends to helping and aiding development of inspired youths across Botswana and Africa at large.

Bakang’s journey is just beginning, we look forward to seeing this rising star achieve amazing things.

All featured artwork was created and is owned by Bakang Molefi.

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