Media mourns veteran journalist

Media mourns veteran journalist
Media mourns veteran journalist

Africa-Press – Lesotho. Keketso Lawrence, who died last week Monday at the age of 54, will be remembered as a consummate journalist and media trainer who dedicated his life in the service of society.

Lawrence died on Christmas Day while waiting for treatment at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital. He will be buried at his home in Ha-Mabekenyane, Berea, next Saturday.

His sister, Ntšeliseng Lawrence, told thepost that the veteran journalist and media trainer “was still queuing at the emergencies department” when he died.

“He was just a soft person,” she said. Mzimkhulu Sithetho, who was mentored by Lawrence when he joined the media fraternity in 1998, said his death has left him devastated.

“I am one of his products,” Sithetho said.

“Celebrities steal the stage, heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Go well Lawrence, the legend,” he said in a tribute on his Facebook wall.

Lawrence began his journalism career in the stunted, fragmented and embryonic media field of Lesotho in the late 1980s. Sithetho said Lawrence remained true to his calling over the past two decades.

After the 1998 riots in Lesotho, Lawrence soldiered on, surviving the rigours and storms in the media field. He went through a rough patch as he sought to improve the standards of journalism in Lesotho.

Colleagues in the media said Lawrence began his journalism when the private sector was still very small. That made it extremely difficult for newspapers to survive as the advertising market was very small.

Sithetho said Lawrence was a mentor and coach in the newsroom. “He would hold regular informal newsroom training sessions for us, giving us tips on how to write good stories,” Sithetho recalled.

He said Lawrence’s catch-phrase was ‘make it simple. ’ “Simplicity was his nature,” he said, adding that Lawrence introduced them to simple, straightforward and easy-to-understand writing.

“Lawrence was not the type of editor who would scold and yell at reporters. He was a mentor and would take you through until you got it. ”

Lawrence was at the forefront in the setting up of the Media Institute of Lesotho (MILES), which later became the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Lesotho) after joining the regional press bloc.

One of his biggest achievements was the adoption of the Open the Waves Campaign, which he led as the Secretary-General of MILES. The campaign eventually saw the government liberalise the airwaves, leading to the opening of new radio stations in Lesotho.

There are now close to 30 radio stations in the country. He also ran a small newspaper called Mopheme – The Survivor which shut down in 2008. Former Minister of Communications, Khotso Letsatsi, said Lawrence “was a dedicated person who loved the media wholeheartedly”.

Letsatsi joined Lawrence while running a dummy for Mopheme. “We asked him to transform Mopheme into a full-fledged newspaper,” Letsatsi said. Development for Peace Education coordinator, Sofonea Shale, said Lawrence fought tirelessly for media freedom in the country.

“He could fight for what he wanted to achieve against all odds,” Shale said.

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