Teens hit big time in TV show

Thulani Gqirana

A GROUP of Walmer High School pupils are basking in fame after their documentaries were aired nationally.

The group, who produced Izimvo Zethu, which focuses on people from within the township, success stories from the community and Xhosa culture, are part of the Masifunde film group.

Group members Asanda Ngwendu, 16, Andisiwe Mbelekani, 16, Sinozuko Tulubane, 16, Amanda Mncono, 19, and Manelisi Billy, 18, not only enjoy the technicalities of making the documentaries, they also love having people recognise them because they saw them on TV.

They work from the Xolelanani Youth Centre in Walmer township, where they meet every Friday afternoon.

Andisiwe said she had joined the group in 2010, when they had only three members.

“Since then, the group has grown to eight members who are like a family.”

The confident pupil said working on the documentary for local station Bay TV had been an amazing experience.

Each episode is 15 minutes long and aims to highlight both positive and negative stories in the Nelson Mandela Bay area.

“Our topics are anything interesting in the Bay. It’s a show for the youth so we look at anything that is interesting to them.”

Asanda, who has been with the group since it began, said the first project had involved how culture influenced identity, which had resulted in them going to Germany last year.

The group said they had watched the first episode, which aired in January, together and could not stop smiling. Sinozuko said she could not get used to other pupils at school stopping her in the corridors and saying they had seen her on TV.

“We are celebrities now,” she joked.

Amanda said the group did their filming anytime before or after school.

“We don’t let it interfere with our school work.”

The passionate youngsters say the experience they are gaining daily is invaluable.

“It is absolutely awesome to have an opportunity to work with a national TV station, to be hands on in producing something that is good quality. We can feel the fame,” Amanda said.

Manelisi, who always has a camera on hand, said he appreciated the opportunity to learn a skill that he could use to give back to others.

The group said film production was not just for fun.

“We are in love with it. We live it and breathe it. Brace yourself – more is coming.”

Coordinator Sebastian Kuhn, who started the group, said: “These guys continue to amaze me. Just a couple of years ago, they didn’t have access to cameras and equipment and now they come up with great topics and manage to give the documentary the look of a proper series.

“The group gives them purpose. No one else would be able to tell these stories like they do, because they live them.”

Kuhn said he hoped Bay TV was just the beginning for them.

“These kids can write on their CVs that they have produced national documentaries.”

The group members take turns producing, directing, editing and presenting the documentaries.

Izimvo Zethu airs on Bay TV every Monday at 6.30pm, 8.15pm, and 10.45pm. On Tuesdays it shows at 10am and 12.15pm..

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