As the world celebrated world television day on Wednesday I decided to reflect on how television has shaped my life and the way it still does. When I was growing up in the late 90s, not every household had television sets so we used to visit our ‘rich’ neighbours to watch any random movie that would be showing at the time.
Jean Claude Van Damme and the likes of Bruce Lee were the common movie stars (we called them bostarring).
So at some point we had to walk long distances to bars and taverns just to watch them kick butt.
While adults at the time chased us away, we had no option but to observe from a distance or climb trees just to get a glimpse.
At the time we relied much on South African television channels and as a frequent visitor to my neighbours I loved Bophuthatswana’s Bop TV because it offered a different kind of entertainment compared to the SABC’s.
I loved this channel specifically for the action movies and the gospel music videos on Sunday. I must say I didn’t like cartoons so I would hate it wherever a cartoon show like The Simpsons came on any TV channel.
After we finally bought a television set I remember vividly watching the 2000 African Cup of Nations in the comfort of our own home.
It felt different than watching at the neighbours and this time I would ask questions freely and as a family we would discuss certain issues concerning what we are watching. Before the satellite dish we used an UHF aerial and we would turn to catch signals of other channels we hadn’t explored.
This was around the time Botswana Television (BTV) was established and we were excited to see local talent even though it meant looking at a rotating wheel hours later.
We loved the faces we saw at the time like Sipho Showa, Reginald Richardson and Norman Patlakwe just to mention but a few. Mokaragana local talent show with Aobakwe ‘DJ Obza’ Mokobi offered us plenty of entertainment so I got to see my favourite artists at the time like George Swabi and Alfredo Mos.
I was a fan of BTV and for somebody who only lived in the rural area and couldn’t access GBC TV (now EBotswana) I went around singing ‘mmogo re isago’ slogan.
Each time after school I rushed home to watch the Asian movies that were aired by BTV during lunchtime. At home we hadn’t connected electricity at the time so we relied on car batteries that were charged using the solar panel.
I remember how we would wait out Matlhoaphage programme just to save some battery power for Chuck Norris’s Walker Texas Rangers. Later on BTV gave us hope with drama series like Thokolosi season 1 and Re Bina Mmogo season 1 and we started appreciating
For someone who was still struggling with English language, I had to learn some of the words on TV through soapies like Passions and The Bold & The Beautiful.
I adored the entertainment stars and our behaviour at school was influenced by the adverts and content we saw on TV. As we watched Stone Cold Steve Austin and many superstars on WWE we ignored the fact that we were not supposed to try this at home.
We wanted to be football stars, so when playing football in our dusty grounds we nicknamed each other with iconic stars like Doctor Khumalo, Jay Jay Okocha and Diego Maradona.
By the time the Chinese rescued the situation with Philibao, television was already a part of us. Some couldn’t afford pay TV, so Philibao took over and others started using TV for spiritual purposes with channels like Emmanuel TV.
Through TV some become drunk with religion and fire churches also bloomed. BLESSING TV started broadcasting from Tlokweng and the word of God reached the whole of Botswana.
Even as other students chose their career paths I ended up in the media solely because of TV influence. As the advent of Internet and digital media took over we started changing the way we watch TV. Instead of sitting down behind the screen which is now fancier compared to the old analog TV sets, these days we download TV shows or series and watch them in our computers at a convenient time. Social Media also bombard us with the content that was aired on TV and we also watch these at our own time. DStv has their Explora, DStv Now app and Catch Up so we surely can’t miss content ,especially now that we are always glued to our smart phones. Econet Media recently announced that it will streamline its direct-to-home satellite television service and people will now get the chance to a powerful streaming service that allows viewers to stream content using the Internet. Thanks to this we will also get the chance to access more streaming channels like Netflix. From the time we waited for the evening so that the transmission would start to streaming channels on the Internet it has surely been a fun yet bumpy ride.