Comrades gather to honour fallen media hero



MASERU – The late Lesotho veteran journalist, Keketso Lawrence, was honoured by family, close friends and colleagues in a memorial service which was held in Maseru on Wednesday.  Lawrence died at the age of 54 on December 25 last year following a short illness.

Speaker after speaker described him as a passionate journalist who spend the latter part of his long career imparting skills to armies of young men and women in the tricky and risky trade. His long and illustrious training endeavours were narrated by many who were with him from the trenches.

One of his former colleagues at the now defunct News Share Foundation, which later gave birth to a newspaper called Mopheme Newspaper (which was managed and edited by Lawrance), Qamako Mahao, said Lawrence was a very influential journalist and colleague; hence their foundation trained many journalists. 

“News Share trained a lot of journalists,” said Mahao. “I know because I also learned journalism in Mopheme’s offices under his tutelage, and there are many journalists who even went to study out of the country because of News Share.”  Mahao said one of the beneficiaries of News Share was the veteran sport journalist, Thabang Matjama, who is currently the Permanent Representative of Lesotho to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.   

He said because of News Share, Matjama went to one of the universities in Cardiff, Wales. “When he came back he (Matjama) worked for Mopheme Newspaperwhere he distinguished himself one of the best journalists, thanks to the guidance of Lawrence and his contemporaries.”

Mahao said Lawrence was also one of the media brains behind the establishment of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS)’s newspaper called Leseli ka Sepolesa.  

“When the Lesotho Mounted Police Service established Leseli ka Sepolesa in those years, it was because of the influence of people like Lawrence, Thai (Bethuel Thai who is founder of the same Public Eye Newspaper) and Khutliso Sekoati. “Lesotho’s police used to complain that newspapers reported negatively about them, and so we advised them to establish a PR department for the journalists to get correct information.”

Mahao said News Share also trained a lot of soldiers during Lawrence’s time, working together with Thai and Sekoati. Speaking on behalf of Mopheme Newspaper, Sekoati said during that time they had a very close relationship as News Share/Mopheme staff, which he said it used to help them in terms of strategies on how to approach different stories.

“We had a very close relationship with Lawrence during that time and that helped us in terms of gathering news from different people,” said Sekoati. “We worked tirelessly to ensure that we published, researched and investigated news.”

Sekoati said they used to take a month to research their stories rather than just publish half-baked news. “But now our media is a disaster compared to what the media used to be in those years. “These days some of our reporters publish information that is not thoroughly researched.  They take information from social media and publish it just like that,” he said.

One of Lawrence’s friends, Tsebo Matšasa, who is also a former director for the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho, said Lawrence published Mopheme for 14 years without being sued for misinformation.

“Lawrence published Mopheme from 1994 to 2008 but he was never been sued for any misinformation, instead, the paper always got credit for good work,” said Matšasa.  Another Lawrence’s friend, ’Malineo Motšepe, said Lawrence was instrumental with the establishment of a programme called Child Journalism.

“Lawrence was instrumental in the establishment of a programme called Child Journalism where he trained children to be journalists, and established a newspaper called Child to Child Communication,” said Motšepe.

“Lawrence also helped with the establishment of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) newspaper called Makoanyane under which he trained soldiers to become journalists through News Share.” Motšepe said before he died, Lawrence was keen to see many women in the media industry. She therefore appealed to women to join the media industry in numbers.

“Women have done an outstanding job in all other sectors. So why are you not in the media industry?

“Let us come together as women to start something in the name of Lawrence that talks about women and journalism,” Motšepe said.

Motšepe further said: “Together with Lawrence, we started the children’s parliament and, as I speak, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Children Parliament has just been established with three Basotho children chosen to be in the committee and the credit goes to Lawrence”.

MISA Lesotho deputy chairperson, Selina Leteketa, admitted that local reporters still needed guidance and mentorship from the veteran media practitioners. “We still need guidance and mentorship from veteran media practitioners to correct the mistakes that we are said to be doing,” said Leteketa.

She further noted: “I would like to thank Lawrence for his contribution in the formation of MISA Lesotho. He was really an easy-going person who was easily approachable if we needed any guidance and we really wish we can get as much help as possible from all the media practitioners, and please open your doors for us”.

Moroa Mopeli from Lesotho News Agency (LENA) said Lawrence was a soft-spoken, very clever and full of jokes guy. “But he was also a very hard-working man,” said Mopeli.

“He worked for LENA around 1980s together with the late Thabo Thakalekoala and Thabiso Mulungoane, amongst others.”

During his lifetime Lawrence worked for many local media houses including Public Eye Newspaper where he was part of the editorial, and he was also a media trainer.

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