“Heleleeeee” is a trademark tone which football supporters across the country use when their sides score a crucial goal.
The man behind that is none other than Botswana Television (Btv) commentator, Kabelo Monikaso, who has won the hearts of many football lovers for his fluent Setswana commentary.
On match-days, Monikaso plays around with Setswana to the liking of those who are listening. Interestingly, four years ago, Monikaso was just an ordinary supporter of Mochudi Centre Chiefs. It was only after he went for auditions at Btv in 2009 that Monikaso got a chance to do something he has always been passionate about for a long period.
Three years into football commentating, Monikaso’s voice is well known across the country by those football lovers who stay glued to their small screens whenever there is a game on weekends. While it has not been an easy ride to be behind the microphone on match-days, he is happy to be living his dream.
“My love for commentary comes a long way from when I was still a youngster growing up in Artesia. I used to listen to different radio stations whenever there was a game and that’s where the interest developed. I would listen to the games from the start to the finish,” said Monikaso from the comfort of his home in Block 6, Gaborone.
He took inspiration from former Radio Botswana’s commentator Thomas Chalebgwa and South Africans Dan Mongale and Aubrey Motloung.
“Those guys when they were commentating would make you sit and listen. At times you would feel like you are out there watching that particular game,” he said with a smile.
It was not an easy road for Monikaso to land his current position at the national broadcaster. As a Physical Education (PE) student at University of Botswana between 1998 and 2002, Monikaso tried in vain to get a freelance job as a commentator at Radio Botswana.
“I’ve always believed that I can do a sterling job as a commentator but I was turned down many a times at Radio Botswana. That did not demoralize me because I believed that I had what it takes and in the end I got to work for Btv,” he added.
Before clinching the current post at Btv, Monikaso used to unofficially commentate games from Pandamatenga Stand at the National Stadium, something which won him the hearts of many fans.
“When Radio Botswana turned me down, I decided to buy a loud speaker and a microphone in order to do my own commentary. I used to sit at Panda on match-days and I would do games there. Even at home (Artesia) I would do games during holidays and it taught me a lot. I enjoyed it so much because it gave me an opportunity to run the length of the game,” he said. His first official game for the national broadcaster was in January 2009 when he commentated a Lobatse derby between Extension Gunners and BMC at UB Stadium in Gaborone. It was not that difficult for him to adjust though he knew that a lot of people were listening across the country unlike when he was doing it for fun.
“I could have made a few mistakes here and there but overall I think I did a fantastic job. Since then, I’ve taken commentating so seriously that I never go out a night before if I have to do a certain game. Commentating demands a lot because you have to research about the teams and players involved. The other thing which makes me enjoy it is because it gives me an opportunity to play around with our language,” he pointed out.
Monikaso was recently honoured when he won the be MOBILE Premier League Awards as the best commentator. When his name was called, the entire hall went crazy, some were shouting, “heleleeeee”. It was a moment which the Artesia-born lad will cherish for a long time.
“When the whole hall went heleleeeee, I was blushing. It showed that people appreciated what I’m doing. The good thing about me is that I listen to everyone because it helps me to grow. It is guys like Small (Mothibi), Edson (Malebane), Nelson (Ditibane), Benjamin (Radimo), Route 4 (Aaron Radira) who have contributed immensely to my growth,” he said.
Not long time ago, Monikaso used to be amongst hordes of Chiefs’ supporters who sang and danced at their club’s Premier League games. He was an integral member of Magosi choir.
But how has he managed to focus on his current job and not take sides when commentating Chiefs’ game?
“If you want to succeed in life, you need not take sides. It will not be fair to the viewers if I were to favour Chiefs because this is a national broadcaster. In the coming season, I still have a lot to offer but honestly, I’ll be grateful if I were to move to radio because that’s where I feel that I can do better,” he concluded.
Apart from being a commentator, Monikaso is a Physical Education (PE) teacher at Bonnington Junior Secondary School in Gaborone. The 35 year-old teacher holds a bachelors’ degree in PE from the University of Botswana.