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Telling stories through film

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MASERU – KHAUHELO Lephema has always wanted to see himself on screen from a young age.
Lephema is a multiple award-winning filmmaker, actor, writer, producer, director, editor, visual effects supervisor and concept designer.

Even at a young age, he developed a strong passion for acting.

In order to unleash his dream, he had to overcome hurdles that stood on his way.

He realised that there was a lot happening behind the scenes before he could actualise his dream.

He had to defy the odds and pursue his goal and this soon opened other opportunities that came with acting.

Out of curiosity and longing to become a household name in the film industry, he learned that there were no readily available opportunities to get his talent on track.

This prompted him to start from scratch a platform where he would be able to live his dream.

“My love for the entertainment world, particularly film production, began at an early age,” Lephema says.

“I became enthralled by the industry as I grew watching Hollywood content, African-American movies to be precise,” he says.

“The idea of wanting to also be an actor then struck me and I lived to make it happen.”

He got inspired by actors such as Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy.

At the beginning it was discouraging for him to join the industry as he figured out that filmmaking was in essence not flourishing in the country.

He became depressed by this factor but he insisted to strive through.

His love for acting surpassed the negativity about the industry in the country.

“Despite my enthusiasm to be an actor, I realised that no one would ever come straight from Hollywood to cast me or shoot me for their movie. So I decided to learn how to make films.”

Lephema wanted to make his own films and star in them.

He wanted to learn filmmaking and editing to create flowing movies and he came across a programme called Windows Filmmaker Classic which had been useful, but it also had some shortfalls.

Once he had finished high school he realised that there was a tertiary institution, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, offering film production courses in the country.

He enrolled there to study animation but unfortunately it was not an offered module.

“But to be honest, I learned immensely about other film production technicalities, there is a lot I have learned which I never knew I did not know,” he says.

Lephema was initially a self-taught film producer before he officially studied the discipline.

Among his achievements he produced prominent films such as The Curse in 2019, Quarantine, and Sleep Aftermath.

Through his hard work, Lephema was recognised for his productions both locally and internationally where some of his films were nominated for lucrative awards in different places like Egypt, South Africa, the United States and England.

Ideally the filmmaking process involves different stages of production.

Firstly there has to be a story which is to be acted out.

The actors then rehearse the story and go for shooting then lastly be edited before it could be distributed.

“A lot of people confuse filmmaking and acting,” he says.

“The two differ in that acting is about playing a character in the story while filmmaking is about the production of a story as a film.”

The filmmaking process is distributed across different expertise panel which involves a director, cinematographer, editor, sound designer, visual effects supervisor to mention a few.

All work in unison to produce a unified film.

The first film which Lephema directed gave him an adventurous experience as he had a lot to learn.

There was a dog cast which didn’t produce a desired sound effect and was somehow lacking in authenticity.

Being a perfectionist, he figured out that there was still something missing from it as he thought it wasn’t on par with the Hollywood quality and standards.

“I have emerged as a pace-setter for film producers in the country.”

Nobody has produced horror and thriller movies locally except Lephema.

He has won awards in the Lesotho Film Festival Awards.

He has created a distinguished trademark for his films and in them, the talented Ntsiki Mahanetsa, features as an actress in most of his films.

“There are channels which can make our films be distributed worldwide so there is audience for our production. All we need to do is to work on the perfection of our craft for international recognition,” he says.

“African based stories are now at the centre stage of global movies and they are appealing since they are authentic.”

Lephema says film production is costly and without proper support it can be an unattainable task.

A lot of expenses are incurred in the process which range from logistics of the cast and the equipment, specialised clothing for certain actors as well as labour costs.

Lephema has acknowledged new trends in movie production and distribution due to technological advances but his concern is on the distribution part since it is killing the traditional way of enjoying the art.

There are currently online streaming services such as Netflix where anybody can stream through movies at their convenience.

This among other things deprives the audience a collective admiration of the movie, he says.

“The cinematic experience of watching the movie is the best experience as opposed to the streaming one offered online or on TV. With cinema, you get to laugh together, cry together; you get to have a rollercoaster of emotions collectively in one room,” he said.

Lephema spoke highly of motion capture technology which allows directors to be able to blend together animation or computer generated images with real footage of people.

The fictional world is blended with the real world like in the movie ‘Avatar’.

Also advanced cameras are now in place which enhances the quality of their work.

The editing software also enables directors to be able to infuse any effect one wants to add to the movie.

In Lephema’s view, a good actor is somebody who is able to make bold decisions and take risks.

They should not have fear of the unknown and must not be afraid to practise new things like the traditional way of producing a linear story.

They have to be agile and be ready to adapt to new situations without feeling intimidated.

“As a director one has to understand every department involved in the production. This enables the director to give concerned stakeholders involved in the film production their views about the story,” he says.

“One has to be open-minded because the script can change at any given time even during the shooting process and for various reasons – perhaps for dramatic effect.”

Your role as an actor, he says, is nothing but to make the film entertaining.

Pertaining to acting, Lephema advises actors to lose themselves for the character which they are meant to emulate.

They must have a strong empathy for what the character they are meant to portray behaves and looks like.

With this, they would be able to put in place a vivid picture about how their character is like.

Acting is living the character, make the character be believable because acting portrays what happens in real life.

A good actor does not limit themselves to the script which they have been given.

They go the extra mile in giving the character more life suitable to their role.

Lephema is currently working on a documentary entitled: ‘Road to Mozambique’.

It is about the peacekeeping mission that Lesotho is currently involved in the former Portuguese colony.

He cannot wait for it to reach the shelves as he said it’s going to give film enthusiasts the best treat.

“There is a saying which states that the film director is as good as his last directed film so this film is going to show that I’m growing as a filmmaker,” he says.

“I also want to see the film industry grow holistically in the country by setting the standards.”

As a film director, he wants to see the private sector and the government being involved more in investing in this trade because ordinary people cannot be able to execute it without proper financial support.

This would in turn promote broad participation of people in the industry and make it lively.

“The film industry has the capacity to hire all kinds of people therefore it has potential to curb the high unemployment rate,” he says.

“If this industry can be given enough support many people can be absorbed and relieve the country from the unemployment challenges it is faced with.”

Calvin Motekase

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SR mob attacks journalist

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MASERU – TŠENOLO FM presenter, Abiel Sebolai, was allegedly beaten and injured by a mob of Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) supporters on Saturday.

Sebolai said the mob, which he suspected was drunk, attacked him with fists, sticks and stones.

He said the group was enraged after he tried to take pictures of their cars which belonged to the Ministry of Local Government

Sebolai told thepost that he had gone to Thaba-Tseka with the Thaba-Moea MP, Puseletso Lejone Paulose, on a work trip when he spotted a group of people clad in SR regalia riding in the government vehicle, hoisting beer bottles.

“We were in Mantšonyane when I saw the Local Government vehicle full of men and women with bottles of beer in their hands,” Sebolai said.

“I saw that the majority were wearing Socialist Revolutionaries regalia.”

He wanted to talk about the abuse of government vehicles on his programme the next day.

“I then took out my phone to capture a few pictures and a video,” he said.

He said just as he started taking pictures, the vehicle made a U-turn and approached him.

“The driver came to me and asked me what I was doing with my phone,” he said.

He said he told the driver that there was nothing wrong with taking pictures as a journalist.

“The person I was with reprimanded him and he attempted to walk away only to turn back and punch me.”

“After the first punch, I retaliated by throwing a punch too. I managed to hit him hard and he fell.”

He said the group then jumped off the car and started assaulting him with stones and sticks.

Sebolai said he tried to flee but was stopped by the “stones that were coming to me like rain until I was hit and fell”.

“What nearly took my life was a stone that was thrown while I was falling. It hit me on the forehead and from then I went blind.”

“They were insulting me so much.”

Sebolai said he was helped by a Good Samaritan who risked his life to drag him into his vehicle.

“From there I was taken to the clinic in Lesobeng before an ambulance took me to Mantšonyane Hospital.”

“I went to the Mantšonyane police station where I found the same Local Government vehicle parked,” he said.

“I am told that the Local Government Minister instructed it to be impounded and my assailants arrested.”

He complained that he was injured while doing his work “but the Ministry (of Communications) and MISA are silent about my attack”.

The SR spokesman, Thabo Shao, told thepost that they received a report about the incident and the party does not “condone that behaviour”.

“I hear arrests are not yet made, those people should be arrested,” he said.

The MISA director, Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, said the board will soon meet to discuss the matter and call the victim before issuing a statement.

“We are going to work it out and then issue a condemnation,” Ntsukunyane said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Infighting rocks BNP

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MASERU – THE Basotho National Party (BNP) has become the latest party to be rocked by infighting triggered by its dismal performance in the October election.

As the party grapples to come to terms with its thumping defeat bigwigs have been pelting each other with blame for the poor performance.

So intense is the internal feuding that the party is now said to be on the verge of implosion.

In the tug of war is the party’s secretary general, Moeketsi Hanyane, who this week fired a salvo at party leader Machesetsa Mofomobe.

Hanyane told a press conference on Tuesday that Mofomobe should accept the blame for leading the party to its worst election defeat in history.

He said instead of taking responsibility as a leader, Mofomobe is blaming him for the dismissal performance.

Mofomobe has however fired back, accusing Hanyane of being rebellious.

“It has been a while since I have been shouldering the blame for the general election’s poor results,” Hanyane said, adding that Mofomobe has been instigating his supporters to insult him.

He said the party did not perform well because it didn’t have money to campaign.

He said the BNP did not get its share of the political campaign funding from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) because it failed to account for what it received in the 2015 election.

Out of the M175 000 that the BNP was supposed to get from the IEC, it got only M15 000 as campaign funds, Hanyane said.

He also said those in the past BNP national executive committee, of which Mofomobe was a member, did not account for the campaign funding received in 2017.

“As a result, our party failed to secure M111 000.”

Hanyane said because of the financial problems the party used rentals from its BNP Centre to fund the rallies in Maputsoe, Quthing, Mafeteng and Teya-Teyaneng.

He said this was the first time since 1993 that the party could not afford to print campaign regalia.

Hanyane also said the national executive committee is chaotic under Mofomobe’s leadership.

“They accuse other members of sabotage, which shows a lack of cooperation in the party.”

Mofomobe, Hanyane added, spent more time mocking other party leaders instead of advancing the BNP’s values and policies.

He said instead of pleading with members of other parties to vote for the BNP, Mofomobe called them “idiots beyond redemption”.

No wonder, Hanyane said, people turned against the party.

He said Mofomobe was not ashamed to use valuable campaign time to mock leaders who own aeroplanes.

“He said their aeroplanes were made of cardboxes, and that was his campaign message,” he said.

 

He also said the BNP supporters were put off by Mofomobe’s close relations with

Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu.

“That issue did not sit well with some party supporters and followers in constituencies,” Hanyane said.

He said Mofomobe angered the chiefs and the church, the party’s traditional pillars.

“The chiefs regarded our party as one of the parties that were fighting them and the church too, those are the pillars of the party.”

He said Mofomobe should “go back and apologise to the chiefs and the church for hurting them”.

“The leadership should also apologise to the members where they did wrong.”

Mofomobe however said Hanyane will face the music for organising a press conference without the national executive committee’s approval.

“The party will meet as soon as possible to take internal measures against the secretary general for doing what he did,” Mofomobe said.

He accused Hanyane of ignoring his orders.

“I told him to go on radio to campaign for the Stadium Area elections but he refused and I ended up going there myself,” Mofomobe said.

He said he will not hate Mokhothu without a valid reason.

“I will not hate him just because people want me to hate him,” he said.

He also stated that although they work well with Mokhothu he has his own reservations that include the DC’s support for Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been wallowing in remand prison for the past five years as he goes through trial for murder, attempted murders and treason charges.

The DC is on record pushing for the withdrawal of charges against Lt Gen Kamoli.

Mofomobe said he is not the first BNP leader to work with congress parties as Leabua Jonathan, the party founder, once worked with Basutoland Congress Party (BCP)’s Pokane Ramoreboli who he made justice minister.

Nkheli Liphoto 

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Rogue soldier loses bid to save job

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MASERU – A soldier who insulted his superior for stopping him from joining a crowd that later killed a civilian during a drunken fit of anger at a bar has lost his bid to overturn his dismissal from the army.

The Court of Appeal last week ruled that army commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, followed the law to the letter when he fired Private Lehlohonolo Alotsi.

The case was before the President of the Court of Appeal, Professor Kananelo Mosito, Justices Phillip Musonda and November Mtshiya.

The court found that on Christmas Day of 2018, Alotsi, together with nine other soldiers, was on patrol at the Ha-Peete Military Base.

They went to a local bar and ended up staying outside the barracks until after 10pm, which is the prescribed time for soldiers to be back inside the barracks. A fight broke out at the bar between the soldiers and some civilians.

The soldiers went back to the barracks and ordered their superior, one Corporal Thabi, to hand over some riffles to them. Corporal Thabi ordered them not to go but his orders were ignored.

Alotsi told the court that he did not go but admitted that he used abusive language against his superior. Thereafter there was a shootout at the bar leading to the death of a civilian. Some civilians were also injured in the shootout.

On New Year’s Eve Alotsi and his co-accused appeared before Presiding Officer, Major Lekoatsa, for summary trial relating to military offences they had committed at Ha-Peete. They all pleaded guilty to the charges laid against them.

Alotsi was charged with disobedience, acting in a disorderly manner, and using inappropriate language to a superior officer. Major Lekoatsa found him guilty and sentenced him to 80 days in detention.

He was also severely reprimanded. Major Lekoatsa told Alotsi that he had 14 days within which to appeal against the sentence.

Alotsi did not challenge both the conviction and sentence at that time and only did so when Lt Gen Letsoela wrote him a letter saying he should give reasons why he should not be fired.

It was during this time when he revealed that Major Lekoatsa had coerced him to confess even though he was not involved in committing the crimes, apart from disrespecting his superior.

In his letter to Lt Gen Letsoela, Alotsi apologised for being out of the barracks beyond 10pm, saying he did not do it intentionally.

“My intention was still to make it back on time but being human, I got carried away,” he pleaded.

“General Sir,” he continued, “here I give a full account of the truth.”

He told the army boss that there was a fight that broke out at a bar and he had no idea how it started and how it ended.

He said they ran back to the barracks to ask for guns to rescue one Private Ramarou.

“I, Pvt Alotsi, was never given a gun, the guns were given to Private Teolo and Private Khoaisanyane,” he said.

“Commander Lesotho Defence Staff, General Sir, I yet again implore you for mercy as I had been in an unwarranted exchange with Corporal Tlhabi, where it appears that I insulted him,” he pleaded.

“I am not a vulgar person at all. I am a soldier who respects a lot, I follow orders,” he said.

“Corporal Tlhabi was ordering me to not go back with the soldiers to go get Private Ramarou. I indeed stayed behind.”

“I deeply apologise, General, Sir.”

The court found that Lt Gen Letsoela has prerogative to fire any soldier or officer if in his judgment his continued service “is not in the best interests of the Defence Force” or the soldier “has been convicted of a civil or military offence”.

“Depending on the gravity of the offence, (the army commander), even in a situation where a soldier is pardoned, (may) still proceed to discharge him or her,” the court said.

“There is no dispute that the offences committed were serious and obviously offended the standing ethics of the force.”

Alotsi had taken the commander to the High Court saying he was being punished twice. The High Court dismissed his application, leading to this appeal.

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