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Fare thee well Thuso 'Thusoski' 'Mthuzonkana' Letlhoma

CORRESPONDENT
Letlhoma
They always say of great people that they do not die, and that they just go elsewhere to rest in eternal power. They go elsewhere to rest and look over us. A gentle giant is resting. Thuso Letlhoma is gone, but he will never be forgotten. He has left a mark, the whole country knew this man and celebrated him in life, now we celebrate him as he takes the route to his resting place. Former colleague and neighbour THUSO PALAI and friends

Growing up I listened to Thusoski on radio and for one second didn’t even anticipate that I would ever share the stage with him, as I had no ambitions for radio broadcasting. But as fate would have it, I ended up sharing the stage with him and I learnt a lot from the gentle giant that guided me as a newbie. I joined Radio Botswana as a fresh graduate in 2005. And in the newsroom I found heavyweights – the likes of Thuso Letlhoma, Mmoloki Mothibi, Sakaeyo Jannie, Sakaeyo Baitshepi, Kesaobaka Keoreng, Thato Lijane-Tlhomelang, Gladys Ramadi, Keitirele Mathape amongst others. I formed a bond with almost all the men in the team as I was a keen sportsperson and we would always argue about football. I ended up being thrown into the deep end to do the sports segments in Letlhoma and Mothibi’s Masa-A-Sele show. It was nerve-wrecking, but Thusoski and Smallboy (Mothibi) made me very comfortable, as I was new to radio and was afraid I would make mistakes. Thusoski would always say “Monna bua hela jaaka okare o tlotlela nna”.

After sometime I got comfortable and enjoyed my radio stint. All the while we would joke and laugh our lungs out when he did his ‘Peretshitswana’ section. At times we would get into trouble for it, as we would often get carried away, but in a decent way.  I will never forget the infamous ‘Sax – e monate mo mosong day’ that nearly got him fired and me shipped immediately to Francistown. Our intended humour had caught up with us and gotten us into trouble, and instead of worrying about himself, he was more concerned for me, and having to answer a million questions about what we had said on radio. After we got off the hook, we laughed over it and every time we met, he would just pick up that laugh off where we left it and remind me how I nearly wet my pants when I asked what we had said on air.

A gentleman he was, he would never hurt a fly. He would always respond with a smile no matter how much one provoked him. I know this because when we were in trouble together, and I could clearly see that some people were trying hard to provoke him, he always responded with ‘love’ and a smile. I was angry, but he told me, “Young Man Pal, this is not about you, it is about me, so wena don’t be angry, just follow my lead and smile”. It was later on in life that I realised that those were indeed powerful words and that is one thing I live by – ‘no matter how much animosity you face, never show the aggressors that you are angry for they will feel justified, rather embrace them and respond with a smile’.

Thuso had a nickname for everyone he was close to and he called me Namesake in the newsroom and when we got on air, he said so that we don’t confuse listeners out there, “wena re tlaa go bitsa Young Man Pal”. The name stuck, and it was my radio name and to this day it is with me, even though I’m not the same young man who joined Radio Botswana anymore.

It is even sadder for me as he passed on two days before my birthday. Even after leaving Radio Botswana, Thusoski would always wish me a happy birthday live on air every year on May 29th. Fare thee well Namesake. We will meet again. Oh, how about a posthumous Presidential Award?

Setlogelwa S’tee Tlhagiso

The dark cloud of sorrow hovers upon this great nation, a gentle giant has fallen. The radio maestro is no more. Oh death where art thou sting? The news of the passing on of my brother, colleague and a friend shook me to the core. I’m gutted, but I find comfort in knowing that Giants don’t die, their legacy lives on for generations to come. Rest my brother.

I spent the past days reminiscing over the great moments I spent with Thuzoski. The fondest memories are of that sweet humble soul, whose humility was often executed with double dose when in need of favour. I remember how he would soften your voice and drop the pace of your speech when he wanted tenputswana (P10) that was often sealed with “Steenana, kana o motho wame”. That gentle personality endeared him to my heart. I had a soft spot for him and felt the urge to always protect him, even when he was wrong. His love for life and fun-escapades sometimes interfered with set schedules. That will only annoy me in his absence only to be disarmed by his kindhearted nature and humility when he reports for duty the next day.

Mothuzoskana was such a unifier, loved and known by all. I cannot think of a single person who did not consider Thuzoski a friend. He knew how to draw people to his side, paid attention to each and everyone of us and would never miss an opportunity to call people with their pet names. Gentle as he was, Thuzaza had the other side that I only discovered late in life. Thuzoski the hype man, I could never imagine Thuzoski with being a festival MC until I was shown his video...

Passing by his favourite spot (the studio) every morning is a constant reminder that he is gone and it is so hard to accept it. I only find solace in knowing that ke mo okile, ke mo ithobogetse

Fare thee well THUZOSKI. May your soul rest in peace

Biki Mbenge

I first closely worked with Thusoski in 2006 when Zebras Supporters Club hosted the ‘Ultimate Tebelelo’ festival before the COSAFA Castle Cup Semi Finals (Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa) that Botswana hosted.  Thusoski was instrumental in negotiating with Dan Tshanda and Splash and managed to get us a big discount.  The festival was on a Saturday night at Fairgrounds, with Thusoski being the Programme Director at no costs to the club. From then on, he became a staunch Zebras Supporters Club member and frequently travelled with the club around Southern Africa.

In all that time that we worked with him, he was always assisting with marketing the club and assisting with fund raising efforts. We also benefitted from his radio experience as he advised on how we could better promote the Club.

Thato Lijane-Tlhomelang

In Botswana, Thuso Letlhoma will be remembered as the host of Radio Botswana’s morning show programme Masa-a-Sele. But for those of us who knew and loved him, we know Thuzoski as he was fondly called by other appellations: Son. Brother. Uncle.

I, who worked with him for nearly 20 years and whose heart bleeds over news of his death, knew him as a colleague and above all, a friend. Duty, decency, honour, reliability, dignity, respect: these are all qualities that Thuso not only held in high esteem but practised everyday during his life.

It is difficult to imagine him not being around. Let’s bid him farewell as we mourn the loss of a lively, humble soul. A soul that brought joy to many, and whose legacy will live on forever.

Treasure Mothobi aka Dimitri aka Motsabakedi - Chronicles of a Legend

The man we grew to love and cherish is no more.  What remains now, is only memories about this man whose radio artistry is unmatched. Indeed, it is true that you never know how much you care about someone until they are gone. I’ve had so many wonderful years and times with my friend-turned-brother Thuso Letlhoma, who is now gone.

The man I used to share a microphone with when presenting Sekhutlwana sa Motshameko is no more. The man who had the obligation to honour and christen me with radio names ‘Motsabakedi’ and ‘Dimitri Berbatov’ now remains a memory.

Masa-a-Sele programme will never be the same without Tzaza, because he is gone, the legend has departed. When he was quite he resembled a mountain, when his laughter hit high cords he resembled grandness. The protagonist of Radio Botswana Airwaves is no more.

From

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a distance one would mistake him for an obtuse journo, but on the contrary an astute reporter who has been at the pinnacle of broadcasting.

My brother Thuso Letlhoma is no more, no one will call my wife ‘Ba Bannye’ anymore, and no one will call my son ‘Ba ba nnyennye’ anymore because Uncle Dimitri is no more.

Your work is done. You’ve been set free. Rest in eternal peace Thuso Letlhoma.

Phenyo Butale

Thuso Letlhoma, the mortal being is no more but the larger than life figure will be with us forever. The holy book in Ecclesiastes 3 teaches us that there is “a time for everything... a time to be born and a time to die”. In keeping with this, we mourn the passing of this giant affectionately known to legions of his fans as Thuzosky. 

Thuzosky’s infectious and addictive voice was very much a part of my daily routine as it was for most Batswana. It is common cause that we all looked forward to the next morning because Thuzosky would be on air with his informative and entertaining but most importantly refreshing programme of Masa-A-Sele. I consider myself to be amongst the blessed few who worked closely with this immensely talented man who cultivated the love many of us have for radio today, both as professionals and as avid, loyal listeners. 

Thuzosky was a fine professional who didn’t have to put as much effort to be the brilliant broadcaster he was. As an editor and an English newsreader at Radio Botswana, I could only marvel at his unmatched command of both the Queen’s English and Setswana. The maestro easily dwarfed most of our self-professed prowess in writing and reading news in both the languages.

Thuzosky was an eloquent broadcaster with a unique eye for news worthy topics with which he mesmerised his listeners with every morning. Unlike most of us, who had to dig deep and research to prepare for a programme, Thuzosky brought God-given talent to the studio much to the chagrin of most of his supervisors who would initially think he is unprepared only to be pleasantly surprised by his delivery. A broadcaster par excellence. 

Many people who crossed paths with him, during his illustrious broadcasting career would attest to the fact that Thuzosky was a fine gentleman, humble and forever happy and welcoming. This humorous side of him saw him naming everyone he had a relationship with.

Everyone had a unique name from Thuso, which he used more often than not to soften them into submission whenever he needed a favour. Very few could say ‘No’ to him when he really needed a ‘Yes’. He knew what to say, how to say it and when to say it, in order to get maximum impact. He called me TGDT meaning Tsela Ga Di Thobogwe in Setswana because if Thuso believed you should be helping him, he would not tire from probing even after you tell him that you are unable to assist. In the end, one had no choice but to assist in whatever way possible. A naturally gifted communicator and negotiator. 

May the soul of this giant find eternal peace as he rests from the troubles of this world.

He has run his race diligently and has left us with memories and life lessons to last us and inspire us for a lifetime. Thuzosky is now amongst media luminaries who helped shape the media fraternity in Botswana. These men and women need to be duly honoured, I dare say. We may as well start with the Thuso Letlhoma Mass Media Complex. I submit. So long TDGT so long!

Kesaobaka Keoreng

Thuzozky: The late Thuso Letlhoma had a zest and passion for life in many respects. He loved sports, showbusiness and anything that tended to brand him as an authentic Motswana who believed in anything that clearly signified that he is a Motswana man. He was a trustworthy individual who expected trustworthiness and truth from all those who dealt with him from time to time.

He was a humble character who would never raise his voice to those in authority if they happened to reprimand him for one reason or the other. He was an MC of quality and did well when it came to live shows and that is why show business moguls such as Dan Tshanda of Splash fame never left him behind when they staged live shows around the country.

Through his love for music and creative arts, he endeared himself to reputable Southern African Regional Music giants such as Ray Phiri, Hugh Masekela, Nana Coyote, Mariam Makeba, Tshepho Tshola, Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and others.

As a journalist, Thuso Letlhoma had a nose for hot news stories and he would always get a story from where other colleagues felt that there is nothing to write home about. He had an amazing ability to read between the lines and be able to always see a story.

Thuzosky as he was popularly known was very good in broadcast journalism because he had the ability to take the audience to whatever activity that he was covering and make the listener feel as if they are attending the event or whatever the occasion could be. He was a humorous individual with the ability to make those that were close to him feel as if they are the most important people in his life.

He was never at a loss for words, especially when talking about local music and how it can be promoted both through radio broadcasting and live shows. In the newsroom he was a darling to everyone and had a special name for almost everyone including Young Man Pal.

Thomas Nkhoma  – Where and how I met Thuso ‘Thusosky’ Letlhoma

I feel privileged to have not only been Thuso Letlhoma aka Thusosky’s friend but his mentor as well. My first contact with Thusosky was in 1991 when he was posted to serve his Tirelo Setshaba at Tututme under the then Department of Information and Broadcasting.

I was head of station working with the likes of Dau Maposa who was our driver, Philbert Kebihetswe who was messenger/reporter and Mma-Cecilia who was our cleaner. All the five of us were crammed in a small office at the Tutume Rural Administration Centre popularly known as the RAC. This small office bonded us together. We were one family. This is where Thusosky cut his teeth as a journalist. It did not take him ages to learn the ropes of the trade. Barely two months in his Tirelo Setshaba Thusosky’s voice was already roaring on Radio Botswana’s Tatediso ya Dikgang (Newsreel) programme.

I guess this is where his love for radio was nurtured. Being a gifted writer he was with a good command of the Queen’s language, it did not take Thusosky months to write a feature article for Kutlwano Magazine. In fact, it took him weeks, something uncommon for a Tirelo Setshaba participant. We did not have computers then. We used an old typewriter and fax machine to file our stories and for the uninitiated it was not easy to type a perfect article without having drafted it first with a pen on paper.

Not so with Thusosky. His articles were almost perfect with just a few omissions and needing little editing.  He loved Ikalanga expressions, especially compound nouns. His favourites were Yendisi we nshingo (director of ceremony) and Ngali we itilo (chairperson) or sometimes Nlauri (district commissioner or officer). I was his Yendisi we Nshongo because he never referred to me as Thomas Nkhoma unless protocol demanded. I also reciprocated. So long Yendisi we Nshingo. Fare thee well!

Boikhutso Rabasha

Thoronski as I called him. It is sad to lose such sweet harmless souls like Thuzosky. He respected, loved and celebrated everyone he knew. This he did irrespective of people’s age or status.

I can still remember how he celebrated my daughter when she was the best student at Form 3 at the age of 14. Years later, he would still ask me about her. He passionately called me MmaDlabasha and Monunuzela, Monunuzela. A Kwena e robale ka kagiso. God bless. Gone, but not forgotten.



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