Changing the face of Lesotho TV

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Maseru – Growing up in rural Mokhotlong in Lesotho, Motšelisi Jesseica Sekonyela never imagined she would be at the heart of national television.

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Having started writing at just eight, she thought her destiny would lead her into being and author.

She impressed from an early age with fictional works like City Lights, about a rural girl who is dazzled by urban life having left home to study in the big city. The culture shock in the city changed her and she lost focus, according to the story.

Sekonyela was 13 at the time.

At 18 she published the inspirational book Make Hay While the Sun Shines, which sold fairly well although a fallout with the publisher dampened things a little.

It was about that time that Sekonyela left Mokhotlong for Maseru to enroll for university.

And while other young varsity students were being dazzled by the bright lights, Sekonyela was landing herself a gig as the head writer for popular soapie Bophelo on Lesotho Television (LTV) and DStv’s Channel 292.

“Life was too fast and everything was just unusual and I now understand why people get lost,” Sekonyela says. “It takes long for some to find themselves.”

But she has remained focused.

Now 21, Sekonyela is in her third year of Broadcasting and Journalism Honours studies at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology. And even with that pressure, she is still writing for TV.

“I enrolled for a Journalism programme because I enjoy writing. When I saw Bophelo on TV, I sent them a message on Facebook and I got the producer’s number. The producer blue-ticked me for a month until she sent me a message telling me she had given my contacts to the director.

“The director contacted me and asked for a meeting. When we met, he gave me scripts and I binged on them. We met again and I told him what I thought and he liked the ideas. He immediately drafted a contract for me,” she says.

The director, Paul Banda Luanga Jr, describes Sekonyela as “an intelligent and focused young lady”.

“She shocked me to be honest. I like giving people chances and she shocked me. She has performed so well and is focused on her task unlike most young women who push for flashy acting roles. She is committed to her writing and is content with being behind the scenes when most women of her age want to be in front of the camera,” says Banda.

“I encourage others young people to emulate her and seize opportunities and not wait for TV roles only. There are multiple functions behind the scenes that they can work on. Now we have an exceptional writer in Tšeli. She is doing really well and I am proud of her.”

Sekonyela is responsible for 70 percent of the content on season two of Bophelo.

Now the acting bug seems to be biting the writer.

“I can’t really say being on TV is my aspiration. I wouldn’t mind being on TV one day. However, I am inspired by seeing female presenters on TV. My aspirations are all behind the scenes. I would love to have my own TV station and I have already started an online TV, Supremedia TV, which broadcasts on Facebook and YouTube but we stopped filming due to lack of funds. However, I dream of having a channel on platforms like DStv.”

On Supremedia TV, targets young people with shows like Entrepreneurship Acceleration Platform and Event of the Week. Both ran from June 2019 until December of that same year when finances dried up.

“One show was entrepreneurial and we would invite entrepreneurs to stimulate the entrepreneurship spirit among the youth while the other was purely entertainment but also targeting the youths through content from social markets and events.”

Her parents have always backed her writing.

“They never chose a career for me; the ball has always been in my court. All they advised me was to be careful and not be taken advantage of,” she says.

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