Hers is an extraordinary story. While many start drafting their life plans in their 20s and start pursuing them, come rain or thunder; her good fortune came on a silver platter. Something she mentions she feels guilty about at times.
Many might say she is lucky. Those who believe in Buddhism might say she did something right in her previous life, the Jewish may say she is just receiving the fruits of the promised land, while the Christians might just say she is receiving blessings from God.
Nametso Sebina is, herself, a Christian. Something that comes out during the whole interview. She states that she is not perfect, and that she has her flaws but that she is learning a lot about the love of God. She also gives a few words of wisdom during the relaxed conversation; like pointing out that in this life we do tend to pursue things that, in the end, turn out not to be what we really needed.
“In this world, we are told that we have to go after money. We are taught to be selfish. To satisfy the self but in the end the void and emptiness still remains inside us.” She concluded the statement by saying that what we are trying to fill is a void that can only be filled by an unconditional love.
Like a mother’s love? I ask.
“Neeh. Not really. A mother’s love can be flawed too. God’s love.”
She says that she never thought she would be on the road she is on now.
“In Malaysia even when you are a student, you are fortunate enough to be an extra here and there. Even though you make a couple of hundreds being the face in the crowd, I never saw it going further.”
Sebina says that she imagined she’d use her education to write in a public relations position; as well as write for TV. A dream that has come true for Sebina. She says that she gets to write a lot of the scripts for First Issues. An FNB sponsored magazine show on BTV.
When did she begin the journey in the industry?
It really seems like she just came out of nowhere and just dominated our radios and TV screens.
Sebina laughingly says that it all began in 2010, when she was fresh from acquiring her degree in Mass Communication with a major in Film and Television and a minor in Public Relations, from Limkokwing University in Malaysia.
In the year of 2010 she heard from a cousin that Duma FM was looking for news readers.
“I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know the pace or how it’s done,’ but I went anyway and they really liked my voice and that’s where it all started.”
She says that she later heard on the radio that they were looking for RB2 presenters and decided that spreading her wings wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Once again, fortune did not pass her by.
“I was fortunate enough to have been chosen out of hundreds of people. I was picked with two others; Gouveia Mutasa and Sean Mongatane.”
On how she got her gig on First Issues. Again fortune was on her side. She went for advertised auditions for BTV newsreaders and though she was not hired for BTV, her current boss happened to see her audition tape and hired her for First Issues.
On where she sees herself in 5 years time, she said that her time in the industry has seen her learning a lot. And, “Many are plans in a man’s heart but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
On the upsides of being in the spotlight; Sebina said being on TV is not what many would imagine.
She says that it is not the case that wherever she goes people are constantly saying, ‘Oh Nametso.”
“I’m grateful that in the Botswana we don’t have a celebrity culture where people are constantly on your case about what you are doing or wearing. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any of that. But I had to wonder before going for auditions, would I still be going to the shops in slippers? Once in a while I do get a, ‘Hey, how you doing? You are doing a great job.’”
Sebina says she is most grateful for the access to places where she wouldn’t normally get a chance to be.
“I get to learn a lot and I get to be in places that I wouldn’t normally be. I got to meet Joe Sample, the Jazz Greats that came for the FNB function. I got to have one on one conversations with guest speakers that came for the Ideas Expo the other day. You are a journalist; you know how it’s like. We get an inside view and access to people that most people don’t normally have. We get to satisfy our curiosity. If an African film director is in town, I can say, ‘Hey, I’d like to talk to that person. That for me is the best part of my job.”
Talking about the downside of being in the spotlight, the notorious wild wild web gets a mention.
“When you leave your show, you can get an sms saying, “Wow. Great show!” And then on Facebook, you’ll get a whole string of messages saying, ‘Who is that girl that’s boring us?’ If you are in a good mood it doesn’t affect you that much, but when you are not feeling nice, you think, ‘Who are these vicious people?’ You know what I mean?”
She says that she has chosen to be blind to the other things that may come because that way they won’t dictate or shape how she acts and behaves.
Another downside. Radio.
“On radio you don’t have anything to lean on. No one is distracted by your face. Or whatever is happening. Your personality has to capture and entertain. News reading is great. You have the script and you just read and it’s done. On radio it has to be you. Your wit. Your intelligence. Your entertainmentness. Rb 2 platform is big. We are nationwide. Half the time you are wondering who you are talking to. Who is listening. If it’s the young n’ hip or the old. But at the end of the day you have to accept the sad reality that not everyone will like you; and be authentic. I can’t be fake. I couldn’t keep it up. Even the greatest people on radio still have people who don’t like them. Everyone has their people who they appeal to.”
Talking about whether she ever regrets the road she took, she said that like she mentioned earlier she feared the loss of privacy. But that there wasn’t an immediate change and the random hellos she gets started coming when she was no longer fearful of it happening.
On the view that Botswana celebrities live a less esteemed life than that of their counterparts elsewhere, she chuckled and said, “It is true. Botswana celebrities don’t get much money. There are things you do, like being the face of a brand that in other places would be a multimillion dollar deal. And here it’s just a by and by. For me it’s a positive thing because it helps me keep things in perspective. It’s a job like everybody else’s even though yours might be a little more visible. I do think it’ll (the industry) will grow. I know e-Botswana is doing a lot to grow our industry.”
She went on to talk about e-Botswana’s battle to get SABCs cut for what she says will be the benefit of our infant industry. She said that currently big advertisers are spending money on SABCs but they know they don’t have to spend money here because SABCs reach us.
“Any form of piracy robs whatever industry it’s stealing from. BTV has opened up its arms to local content. We like to think we don’t have talent here. It’s just that we don’t have the platforms. Having worked in the industry, I know some seriously talented people.”
She said that those talented need a platform and a financial reward and that way they will live the lavish celebrity lifestyle.
On what she would like to contribute to the industry and be remembered for. She said that she would like to support inspired and talented creatives.
“Because I also get to feed off that energy. Even if it’s behind the scenes. My first love is film. It is a powerful media of creating a culture. When you think of the States and South Africa, you have a sense of their culture. Film is great part of that. Every country has to capitalize on what’s unique to it. America doesn’t want to see an American story coming from Botswana. I’m quoting the greats here. When you tune to Bollywood, it’s because you are looking for something different. If we could create our own type of style. Something of our own that we’ll be proud of. I want to be a part of the creation of a contemporary Botswana identity. Re lese go eletsa tsa ba bangwe.”
“Landing the job is only the beginning. You’re not constantly made! After that you must use the opportunity well. Challenge yourself and learn how to improve,” she said.