GABORONE, BOTSWANA – The demand for Setswana in South African television dramas and soapies alike is sky-high.Over the years, we’ve seen a rapid increase in the integration of Setswana into RSA’s film and television industry, which will over time create a happy ending for all Setswana-speaking natives, most importantly Batswana actors who have always wanted to expand their wings beyond our borders.
Just recently, the duo of Maxwell Dichi (Seretse) and Sharon Seno (Marang) became the latest and new editions to South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC’s) channel 2 soapie dubbed Muvhango.
Muvhango is a Venda
language inclined television soapie amassing over 5.5 million viewers per day.
The popular soapie started airing in 1997 and has diversified to accommodate other
languages amongst them Setswana.
Dichi and Seno’s achievement to take their professional acting career to higher heights follows last year’s international auditions by the producers of the multi-award winning drama, led by creator Dumi ka-Ndlovu and actor Dingaan Mokebe (James on Muvhango) in Gaborone’s Block 7 location.
The duo join other renowned Batswana actors who have joined the RSA market in recent years among them Lerato Motshwarakgole (Generations), Koketso Mophuting (Isibaya), Tlholego Chaba (Generations), Kgomotso Ratsie (Scandal) and Perseverance Moleta (Generations, the legacy) among others.
Just recently, Botswana-born but RSA-based film and television power couple, Connie and Shona Ferguson of Ferguson Films inspired the local Film and TV industry with ways of breaking the mold, when they were invited as VIP guests at the inaugural Botswana Film Festival held at the University of Botswana’s Indoor Sports Arena, hosted and organized by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport Development and Culture (MYSC).
They also pleaded with budding Batswana actors and producers to take advantage of their presence and clout in the neighboring country to penetrate the RSA market or even work towards establishing a profitable market locally.
The Fergusons play in their own production, The Queen and purely speak Setswana – something that continue to win them more fans in Botswana.
Their other production, The Throne, which beams on Mzansi Magic – where treachery, deceit and turmoil engulfs the mythical Batswana kingdom, when mineral deposits are discovered on their land. The Throne, a new drama centered on the Kwena Royal Family, uncovers a vicious power struggle, as each member desperately tries to serve their own interest.
“We are Batswana, so use us. It’s not going to be easy to make it in South Africa but I am here as a testimony that it is possible. I have been rejected many a times but I never gave up. From what I have noticed about Botswana is that the talent is immense and untapped. It just needs direction to make a living out of it,” Shona told the festival attendants in November 2018 at the UB indoor sports arena.
Furthermore his wife Connie has been in Botswana on numerous occasions among them being a guest judge at the President’s Celebrations competitions in 2017 as well as the Multichoice Botswana’s film expo in 2015 respectively.
Furthermore when he paid a courtesy call to the ministry of youth empowerment, sports and culture development officials a fortnight ago, ka-Ndlovu said they have selected five more cast members from Botswana who will be monitored from time to time.
“We might end up with 8 talented cast members from Botswana. We have five more that we selected and the team will keep an eye on their progress. I came to Botswana during auditions and didn’t know what I will get however we managed to employ two Batswana (Dichi and Seno). I have three productions on screen back home and this is a great opportunity for more Batswana to shine.”