Last week, Btv star presenter Alpheons Moroke of The Eye weekly programme, who was vacationing in Kenya, excused himself from friends and walked out of the room. A few minutes later his body was found floating in a swimming pool.
The reigning MISA journalist of the year who had a probing mind, a nose for news, matchless flair and a snack for surprises is expected to pull one last trick from his bag next week when Btv beams his documentary ÔÇô a hard hitting expose on dangers posed by public swimming pools which do not have life guards on patrol. He made the documentary before filling in his leave form and going on vacation.
Moroke was, in most respects, a people’s journalist, one whose best known stories are set in Botswana’s daily grind of factory floors, unemployment queues, ill equipped classrooms and badly managed swimming pools, where he worked much of his career ÔÇô and died. It is hard to think of a journalist whom colleagues held in more affection.
That affection was stirred by the intelligence and integrity he brought to his work.
Funny though, my first impressions of Alpheons were not very good. As he strutted in crisply pressed designers jeans and shining square nosed shoes with a neatly trimmed moustache atop a mouth of pearly white teeth, he looked like those yuppies in society pictures on glossy lifestyle magazines – slick to the point of oleaginous. If you looked up “debonair” in the dictionary you would expect to see his picture right next to the entry.
In a profession where young men turn up for work is dirty jeans reeking of last night’s Black Label Lager, Moroke did not fit the identikit of a journalist. Since he came highly recommended by his English lecturer, Barolong Seboni, then a columnist with us at the Botswana Guardian, Mike Mothibi, Mesh Moeti and I decided to give Moroke a test run.
Moroke, however, had no doubts about his abilities. We had hardly offered him the job when he told us that “Go santse go tlaa kwalwa” assuring Mike, Mesh and I of blazing journalism. We were never disappointed.
He started chasing ambulances from his first day in the newsroom, and when his first story landed on my desk, I knew we had struck gold. A teetotaler who did not suffer sloppiness gladly, Moroke brought a certain level of discipline to the Guardian newsroom, earning himself the label “Monna wa Lekgotla” for the stern tongue lashings he dished out during his “newsroom kgotlas” against errant reporters. As assignment editor, he ran a tight ship, much to the chagrin of reporters who were used to the anything goes irresponsible newsroom atmosphere. Moroke stood at the begging of a new tradition in Botswana’s newsroom management, a far cry from the traditional happy go lucky live-fast-die-young and leave-a-good looking-corpse indiscipline.
A go-getter who did not rest in comfort zones, Moroke believed in conquering new challenges. After a trailblazing one-year stint with the Botswana Guardian and Midweek Sun he joined Btv and slipped into the electronic media with ease. He was a natural. Three years later he was winning more awards that all the old hands he found at the Btv studios. In 2005, he won the MISA award and, in 2006, he went a step further, breaking all records by winning two awards- MISA Presenter of the year and MISA journalist of the year. “To me people like Alpheons Moroke are larger than life. We found his entries to be very very exciting and competitive,” remembers Chief Judge of the MISA award adjudication panel Samuel Moribame.
“I am sure that I am speaking for thousands of people when I say he was held in high esteem as a journalist. This is a journalist who would have made it big anywhere in the world. He was a gem of a journalist and one of the most talented in the country. I feel my life is empty without him,” says Moribame.
Moroke was, however, preparing to conquer new horizons. He was on the verge of setting up his own radio station. So it’s rather absurd to journalists and fans imploring him to rest in peace – for if there’s one thing Alpheons hated, more than sloppiness, it was being trapped in a comfort zone.
It thus does not come as a surprise that he is still fighting sloppiness from beyond his grave, with his documentary that is expected to be aired next week.