There are television legends, and then there’s Khotso Nkhatho. Last week, the South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) then there’s Khotso Nkhatho.
On March 2, the South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) acknowledged the 65-year-old Thespian’s four-decade involvement in television acting when he was bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
It’s a befitting accolade for the multifaceted artist and seasoned actor who had distinguished himself on stage, radio and TV as a scriptwriter, presenter, director and producer.
Born in Ventersburg, Free State in 1953, he started acting at the age of 15 in school dramas, commonly known as sketches. He continued to pursue his passion for acting at college in QwaQwa, where he was trained as a teacher.
Here, Nkhatho established a reputation among students as a popular actor – playing lead roles in most of the stage productions. He was a 24-year-old school teacher in Heilbron, a small farming town in the Free State, when he penned his first radio drama serial in 1977. It was broadcast on Radio Sesotho (now Lesedi FM) and won him first prize of R200 during a radio drama competition.
He subsequently left teaching for full-time employment as presenter and producer of Sesotho dramas in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. With the launch of black television in 1982, he joined TV2 – the channel that included Sesotho languages – as an actor, language adviser, screenwriter and script evaluator.
Some of the first television dramas he acted in include Pholoso, Mafahla a Lahlaneng and Thabure, named after a famous racehorse. The industry recognised his efforts with a string of accolades – notably the Astera Awards, bestowed for excellent work in radio presenting and television acting.
But the best was yet to come. Lead roles in memorable dramas such as Mopheme (1989) and Mmalonya (1992) confirmed his reputation as the finest Sesotho speaking actor on local television. Such is his veneration for his mother tongue that he has never acted in another language.
The star was the first media house to recognise his natural abilities in front of rolling cameras when he won The Star Tonight Awards in 1990 for best actor in a television drama (Mopheme). In the autumn of his illustrious career, he’s a deserving recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award.