Shooting for the stars in a male-oriented field
Seko Tingitana, one of the few female filmmakers in Tanzania, made her entry into Tanzania's fledging local industry at a tender age. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
As a young Tanzanian girl, Seko Tingitana grew up watching a lot of films. That was normal for her age. But unlike many of her peers at the time, she did not copy the habits of the actors and actresses to perform at school.
Instead, she would engage in fruitful discussions with her family members on how those who made the films did it. That was to be the beginning of her journey into the world of creativity.
Decades later, Seko has turned her childhood hobby into a life career. And her entrance had to come in the most unexpected ways.
She was only 17 years old when she made her major break into the film industry, going on to become one of the few successful Tanzanian female filmmakers.
“It was during a talent show at Zanaki Secondary School, and I was there as a visiting performer with my school’s music club,” she retraces.
“I went on to do drops for Radio One and then got a radio show on what is now East Africa Radio. That introduced me to the whole Tanzanian media scene.”
But Seko remembers that her decision to work in the film industry did not begin yesterday. While she was in school, she would only try to imagine what it would be like to be in the world of films.
And while she might not have had a clearer roadmap to her destiny, her environment helped build her into what she is today.
“I loved films from my tender years. But I also played musical instruments. In fact, I was the chairperson of my high school’s music club,” she says in an interview with Success.
Yet it was her experience in school as a ‘drama queen’ that later had a major influence in what career path she would follow.
She boasts 12 years of experience in the Tanzanian media industry. She owes part of her grooming to the three years she spent as head of programming at EATV from 2005 to 2008.
“We came up with a lot of hit shows at the time, including Nirvana, Friday Night Live and Ze Comedy,” says Seko.
She left EATV in 2008 to start her own company Alkemist Media through which she has managed to get her foot into the international media industry. She has so far contributed news pieces to CNN’s Inside Africa, BBC and ABC in America.
“I also wrote and shot the historical documentary ‘Mkwawa’ in 2011, and in 2012 I co-wrote, directed and produced ‘The Team’ TV show, with the help of the NGO Search For Common Ground, which is currently on air on EATV,” she says.
Born and raised in Dar es Salaam, Seko is the second (and last) child to an engineer father and education specialist mother.
In university, she studied finance as her major, but took media studies as a minor. “My intention was always to work in TV and film,” she says.
As a woman in a male dominated industry, Seko says she does not feel any threat, though she feels a lot of work has to be done for more Tanzanian women to comfortably settle in what is generally regarded as a male domain.
"There are many things that are still holding Tanzanian women back. Many still face high rates of gender-based violence, and there are lower numbers of young girls completing secondary school than boys,” she says.
Yet she still believes that as a woman in the film industry, she is in a unique position to tell her story in a different way.
"For example, when we were writing our current show, ‘The Team’, I could really relate with the characters Upendo and Sophia, having been a teenage high school girl myself and going through similar anxieties about identity,” she explains.
However, she says there are many challenges too, “for we live in a patriarchal system in which sexism is inevitable.” But she has never let that stop her.
So far her work has been mainly local, though she has travelled extensively. She says travelling is key in filmmaking.
"You need to ‘reset’ your eyes after every few months or so. This helps you to have a fresh perspective into your work, and fresh ideas too,” says Seko.
Filmmaking has always moved Seko’s heart to the extent that she could not imagine working outside the creative industries, and especially film.
"When I did ‘Mkwawa’ it was so necessary for me to tell the story of an amazing African leader. The story behind our current show, ‘The Team’, was necessary for me to tell because I wanted to give a voice to the struggling young Tanzanian women,” she explains.
The idea of adding something new and original to the world wakes her up in the morning. And she says she is always proud to see people changed by her productions.
So far, she has produced a mix of news pieces, films and television shows.
“It is great to be part of the film industry in Tanzania. The industry is growing by leaps and bounds and there are new filmmakers coming out with interesting points of view, but there are some structural issues we need to address,” she says.
Her work has been highly influenced by many – from Djo Tunda Wa Munga to Raoul Peck, Lumumba about Patrice Lumumba and Sometimes in April about the last Rwanda genocide.
Her secret to success is the fact she never allows challenges that come her way to pull her down. “I try not to focus on challenges, but rather on solutions,” she says.
For example, while she appreciates the fact the film industry is dogged by rampant piracy, Seko does not feel that it can pull her down. She has a positive outlook.
“Piracy is genuine problem in the film industry. But it will eventually be addressed. We are growing as an industry, and as we grow we will have better structures to help use fight piracy to the end,” she says.
Seko believes the African film industry has a lot of potential. “We are slowly attracting the attention of the world market. That is why we must ensure that whatever we produce now, it has to have something for the international audience too,” she adds.
When she is not at work, Seko is an avid reader. “I am a big reader and love to absorb information. I also love to watch films and television, listen to music, travel, go to museums, go running, take foreign language classes and give back to my community. I am also a writer and a DJ,” she says.
But she also has to juggle her career with her wifely duties. “I am married to Amour Shamte, and we don’t have any children yet, but I have always put my marriage on top of my priority list.” If she weren’t making films, she would be into music or designing, she says.
In April 2013, Lyn Jones, Chairperson of the Advertising Media Association of South Africa-AMASA Johannesburg committee has confirmed the committee members for the 2013/14 financial year.
"This year for the first time we implemented an online voting system which was incredibly well received," she says. "The following people were voted in unanimously and will be allocated their portfolios at our next committee meeting."
• Gordon Muller, GSM Quadrant
• Trish Guilford, The MediaShop
• Wayne Bishop, MEC
• Angela Childs, Vizeum Jhb
• Richard Lord, The MediaShop
• Cherylann Smith, Global Mouse
• Quinton Scholes, ABN
• Dustine Tobler, MediaCom
• Michelle Randall, United Stations
• Paul Clarke, Whalley Brand Velocity
• Wayne Bischoff, Habari Media
As current Chairperson of AMASA Jhb, Lyn Jones automatically remains on the committee for a total period of at least three years.
For more on AMASA, like us on Facebook (AMASA Jhb) or visit our website:
As award-winning director Sara Blecher made her way down the aisle and to the brightly lit stage, the cast and crew of Otelo Burning behind her, the crowd broke into a loud cheer. It was a great spectacle as over 600 people and millions more in more than 50 countries watched as Blecher received the award for Best Movie Overall at the inaugural AfricaMagic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA).
South Africa has truly enjoyed some great success in filmmaking this year so far, from Fanie Fourie’s Lobola making waves at international festivals to Asad being nominated for an Oscar in the short film category to Searching for Sugar Man taking the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
Most recently the country enjoyed great success at the AMVCAs, where South Africa received 10 awards. Akin Omotoso’s Man on Ground won four awards for Best Movie Director, Best Cinematographer, Best Picture Editor and Best Sound Editor; Tim Greene’s Skeem bagged the awards for Best Movie (Comedy) and Best Writer (Comedy) and Sara Blecher’s Otelo Burning took home four awards for Best Movie Overall, Best Art Director, Best Make-up Artist and Best Lighting Designer.
Full story here:
DStv: Statement from Universal NetworksBy DStv Online | Wed, 03 Apr 2013
Like any international broadcaster, Universal Networks holds obituaries ready for every major statesman in the world.
Universal Networks wishes to offer a sincere and heartfelt apology for the airing of such an announcement for Nelson Mandela, which broadcast last night (Tuesday 2nd April) on the Universal Channel due to a technical error by our team.
We unreservedly apologise to the Mandela family, to Universal Channel viewers and to DStv subscribers for the alarm and offense caused by this error.
Our thoughts and best wishes are with Madiba and his family for a speedy and full recovery.