The arty all-rounder meet the boss
Having been exposed to the creative industry at a younger age, Tsholofelo Ntshingane went on to fulfill his dream of establishing an arts school in Botswana.
In this interview, the Mahalpye native shares how his passion pushed him to overcome his fears.
Q. Tell us a bit about your school.
A. Our school is called AFDA. In the past this used to be an acronym for Africa Film Drama Arts.
It was established in 1994 with the objective of covering all the arts in general in South Africa.
When the school started, it had what is called ‘industry associates’ such as DSTV and SABC because they believed students required hands-on experience.
Q. When did you learn about the school?
A. I was enrolled in the school in 2008 while working for government at Botswana television.
During my time there, I realised that this school is different from many others in what it offers looking at our industry at that time.
Also looking at the background of the national television because I was working at Btv and understood what was happening.
So, I thought, why not start something similar here in Botswana?
I had long had this vision of establishing an arts school locally.
Unfortunately the guy I was in discussions with to partner passed on.
It seemed like the vision had been crushed and only started again when I went to AFDA in 2008.
Q. So when did you establish the school in Botswana?
A. In 2010 I decided it was now time to see AFDA in Botswana.
I did not have anything, not even a single Pula – but my passion told me ‘you have everything!’
I took my salary and travelled to Cape Town where I had a meeting with the school owners. They agreed to sell me the Intellectual Property and eventually the school started running in 2014.
Q. And who financed you?
A. I had to talk to one man I have in the company called Dr Mothusi Phuthego.
We have been friends for a very long time and we went around looking for partnerships.
But I can tell you we never took any loan facility to start the school.
Fortunately, our partners in South Africa saw potential and supplied us with all the equipment necessary.
Q. When was AFDA’s first enrollment?
A. Our first enrollment was in 2015.
Back then we had two classes – freshmen and honors, which is basically for those who came to do a top up.
This year we will be having our first graduation for our first cohort.
Q. On average, how many learners do you absorb in a year?
A. Our belief is that we should be realistic.
We do not absorb students for the sake of filling up the school.
We look at the market to determine the demand. Right now, if you look at the television stations that we have, we have around eight that are broadcasting in Botswana.
But when you look at the content demand, that is where the problem is.
The maximum we have enrolled for fresh learners is 40 in a year – at the moment we have about 256 students.
Q. Are they self-sponsored?
A. Most of them are government sponsored.
But you will have a drop in the ocean for the self-sponsored students, probably because our school is one of the most expensive in the country.
This is because we use the real equipment that is currently used in the industry.
Q. State some of the programmes you offer?
A. We have Higher Certificate in Film Television and Entertainment Production, which takes one year.
Mostly we enroll students with 25 to 29 points, but because obviously government usually puts a cut off points of 36, so we expect these students to be self-sponsored.
We have three degree programmes, and the first one is BA in Motion Picture Medium.
The second degree is called BA in Live Performance, which mostly caters for aspiring actors and musicians.
You can act as either a theatre actor or on-screen actor.
The last degree programme that we have is Bcom in Business Innovation and Enterprise.
This is similar to the usual Bcom, but ours is skewed towards selling entertainment.
Q. What plans do you have for your institution?
A. We have many plans!
Firstly we want to have a vibrant industry that can show us as a school that we have a purpose, why we should be enrolling students.
So we can graduate students, and other schools around also graduate students without the market, then we become irrelevant because you are not servicing anybody.
We have been in serious discussions with local television stations and have partnerships with some of them.
These partnerships are to try to have a system that will introduce students to the real dynamics of the creative industry.
Soon we will be introducing our own television station so that when our students learn about TV, there is where they can practice it.