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Duo hope to grow special effects makeup locally

Publishing Date : 19 July, 2018

Author : ANGELA MDLALANI

The duo of Rachel Mmipi and Merapelo Manuhwa is positioning themselves to change the landscape where special effects makeup is concerned in Botswana. Both young women have a special skill second to none in creating prosthetic makeup, ranging from deep cuts, bruises and burn marks using only ordinary stuff from the kitchen including honey, wheat flour and food colouring.


Special effects makeup, also called prosthetic makeup is the process of using prosthetic sculpting, moulding and casting techniques to create advanced cosmetic effects. Although the film industry in Botswana is yet to fully develop to a point where it can accommodate their skill, the duo is not deterred to chase after their dream of growing the art.


Their partnership is relatively new, and it was their passion for this kind of makeup that brought them together. According to Mmipi, Manuhwa reached out to her through Facebook after noticing she had been posting similar pictures of transformational makeup. Mmipi had herself just come out of hibernation at the time. When she first started posting some of her “art” on social media, the public crucified her, some accusing her of practising Satanism.


This was two years ago. When she decided to post her stuff online again, she used a student platform called “The Basement” where she received better reviews, this motivated her to brave the brutal audience awaiting her on social media, and this time around she was met with a more understanding and receptive crowd. She would continue to post until Manuhwa would discover her.


Mmipi’s interest in special effects developed following a rough time with depression. During the depression, she said she would cut herself. Self-harm/injury is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue, done without suicidal intentions. The motivations for self-harm vary. Some use it as a coping mechanism to provide temporary relief of intense feelings such as anxiety, depression, stress, emotional numbness, or a sense of failure.


To avoid self-injury, Mmipi said she turned to creating the wounds and cuts through the use of special effects makeup. When she realised special effects acted as a coping mechanism she continued doing it, overtime improving her skill. As for Manuhwa, her love for prosthetic makeup developed overtime as she watched a close friend in Lesotho enjoy it. She decided to also invest her time in it and learn the skill. She enjoys creating cuts, bruises and creating different looks on individuals (making a young subject look much older than they are).


Upon their discovering each other, the two women learnt that they both had the same vision―to teach the skill to more people. “Our ultimate goal is to open a school where we would teach interested people this skill,” Manuhwa told WeekendLife. The two have so far worked on different sets of projects that are still in production and are set to air on Btv soon. Some musicians have also engaged them for their music videos. Both hope to work with ATI whom they say already has an eye for special effects makeup.


While they concede that the market is relatively small they also have their sights set on the outside market, including in South Africa. “Someone from Skeem Sam saw our work and actually called to say they would be interested in working with us after seeing some of the work we post. It would be great opportunity to work with such a known production,” Mmipi said. Skeem Sam is a daily South African drama series that airs on the popular SABC 1 channel from Monday to Friday.

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