A jewellery design upstart Mpho Mokgatle recently upstaged veteran designers when he would the highly rated De Beers Shining light award. Mokgatle is a beginner, who is yet to complete his certificate in the course. His lecturer at Oodi Applied College Arts Ingrid Haufe revealed that Mokgatle is not even referred to as a jewellery designer yet, but a beginner as he has not even finished his certificate. In fact, Mokgatle’s syllabus has been focussed on silver with diamond jewellery making only set for diploma level.
The 28-year-old from Moshupa traces his love for the arts to his childhood. He discovered his artistic talent when he was doing standard one, as he remembers very well that even at that age the teachers were amazed by the lion that he drew. Since there was no art in primary school, he then pursued his love for art in junior secondary. Art is where he basically found himself and the gift that was immersed in him. When in junior school he was always participating in school competitions. In high school, he got a lot of inspiration from his art-loving peers. They competed against each other. At Form four in the all schools art competitions he managed to do a piece that got number one.
When he finished high school he enrolled for a different course at ABM College, obtaining a Degree in Marketing Management. He shelved his passion in the interim. In 2012 - six years since his art sabbatical - he heard of the President Day competitions and he sprung back to life. He came third in the competitions and his work was displayed at the National Art Gallery. The next year he also entered again and also got position three. He said when he heard about Oodi Applied College of Arts he didn’t waste time in applying to be enrolled. He started at Oodi in September 2014 and though there is no financial allowance at Oodi College, he was determined to learn.
He said after officials from DeBeers launched the Shining Light awards to all the students at Oodi he fancied his chances. In the beginning many of them took the theme ‘Promise’ and started to research around it. They had to come with the main core pieces which were the ring, pendant, bracelet and the earrings. He revealed that it was not easy at all to be able to submit, because at the same time he had to contend with school work. He said he knew at that moment that he had to choose, whether to risk everything and take a risk at a competition that if he wins it can change his life, or whether to quit and focus on school work. “By five exactly on the deadline day DeBeers called to ask our lecturers if we are really going to submit,” he said. He thanked the Lord for having managed to submit despite all he challenges that he went through.
He said despite the setbacks, he was pleased to know that in Botswana he became number one, where he now had to go to South Africa to compete with other 11 people from different countries. Knowing that it was now not a national competition, he was well aware that the competition will be tough. He revealed that even among the 11 that were in South Africa, he was the one with the least experience as he had not even completed his certificate. Mokgatle said having been recognised as the most competitive 12 that the Shining Light Awards has ever encountered and also winning the Shining Light Development award, he couldn't be happier because he knows that he is just a beginner. “I am very sure I gave them a run of their money especially as a beginner,” he said. After finishing his certificate in Oodi, Mokgatle will then go to South Africa for two years where he will be study at Keith White School of Jewellery Design and Manufacturing, all sponsored by De Beers. With the knowledge that he will get, he wants to come back home and be among the first locals to start diamond jewellery design more so that Botswana produces the finest diamonds. He said that it is heart-warming to know that De Beers is willing to establish and make sure his dream becomes a reality. He said so much work needs to be done in order for Batswana to understand more about jewellery because they have still got no idea that you can actually purchase a diamond or gold piece as an investment. He said though he did not like marketing he now realises why God let him do it as it will be an important tool that he will use in order to establish himself in the business. His lecturer Haufe confirmed that indeed Mokgatle has got great potential to become a great jewellery designer because of what he shows just as a beginner.