No single man has managed to create so much buzz as Cristopher Metsi Lebekwe, the man behind the Character “Rra T” on the weekly drama Mareledi which airs on Btv.
Voice staffer Kabelo Dipholo recently paid the actor a visit at Kgatleng Landboard in Mochudi.
Perhaps borrowing from Rra T’s sneaky character he quickly ushers us in to the Chairman’s office where the candid interview was conducted.
The Chairman was still in a meeting so the interview had to be brief.
Q: Good afternoon Sir and thank you very much for this interview. Please briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
It is an honour. I’m Metsi Lebekwe born and raised in Mochudi some 53 years ago. I did all my schooling in Mochudi and I’m a teacher by profession.
Q: A teacher? That’s interesting.
I have been in the teaching profession for 22 years and have served in different capacities including school head for a considerable length of time. I retired in 2004.
Q: Well I have a feeling that most of Rra T’s fans have no idea that you once wielded a chalk and a stick.Can you tell us how you went from being a teacher to a household television name?
I have my wife to thank for this one. My wife approached me and mentioned something about auditions for a radio programme Makgabaneng.
She wanted me to try my luck but I was not convinced that I had the talent.
Q: Why did your wife think you could be a good actor?
I’m a very funny person. Whenever I’m around people are always laughing and my wife believed it was a quality that might impress the Makgabaneng scouts.
I didn’t have any formal training except from a school drama I took part in 1970.
She was right because after I auditioned everyone was convinced that I was exactly what they were looking for.
Sadly though, that project never materialized.
Q: What happened? I thought you impressed the talent scouts.
I did but there was nothing after that.
However after a while the same people contacted me and informed me about the intention to take Makgabaneng the radio programme to television.
They made it very clear that they wanted me to play a character called Rra T.
Q: Would you kindly describe Rra T?
He is a very rich man who owns Rra T Construction Company.
Although he has been blessed with all this wealth and could use it to uplift other people around him, he doesn’t.
Instead he chooses to use his wealth to lure young pretty girls whom he uses as his sex slaves.
Desperate for money and employment these young girls are attracted to Rra T like flies to milk.
Q: How has playing such a character changed your everyday life?
Since appearing on Btv I have had so much attention from people wherever I go.
I have even forgotten my own name because everybody refers to me as Rra T.
The only problem is there are some people who cannot differentiate between me and the character I play.
Perhaps it’s because I do it so well that it looks real.
Q: What is Mareledi all about?
Mareledi is a drama whose intention is to sensitize people about issues on HIV/AIDS.
Q: Despite being an amateur, you have been received well by Btv viewers.
Is acting something you intend to pursue as a career?
When I joined Mareledi, I knew from the onset that I was not going to make any money, but was merely doing my part to help fight the HIV pandemic.
However I was also looking at the bigger picture.
With the local film industry growing I hope that one day somebody will knock at my door and engage me in a project with a lot of money. (laughs).
Q: It is still hard to believe that a person with no basic training in acting could bring a character to life the way you did.
I know. Maybe I have to add that I come from a very artistic family.
I’m a singer, choir trainer and adjudicator in music competitions.
Some of these I learnt from church.
Q: That explains it. What else do we have to know about Rra T?
Well I believe most people do not know that I used to be a ballroom dancer.
I’m also an MC of repute, in fact mceeing is my backbone.
I have been an MC is some of the most important events in Mochudi and surrounding areas.
I was an MC during Kgosi Kgafela’s installation, during both Pilane and Kgosi Lentswe’s funerals.
I also led the proceedings when Kgafela’s regiment from Moruleng was welcomed back.
I never ask to be an MC, people just call me up.
I have this natural talent of keeping people engaged.
When I have the MIC the crowd literally eats off my hand.
Q: Can you take us back to your days as a teacher?
After completing my Cambridge I enrolled with Botswana Polytechnic in 1980 for my Diploma in Woodwork and Technical Drawing which was later changed to Design and Technology.
I later went for a convention course in the UK in 1987-88 and when I came back I worked for a while at Curriculum as a member of the Modules Development team.
Q: When did the actual teaching begin?
I was getting there. In 1989 I began my job as a teacher at Bakgatla Junior Secondary School where I set up the D&T Department.
I was promoted to be a Deputy School on my third term and was transferred to Tshesebe.
In September 1991 I was elevated to the School Head position and transferred to Tsetsebjwe.
Q: Your rise to the top was very swift.
Yes it was. I went for further studies in the UK in 1997-1999 for 1st and 2nd Degree, Batchelor of Philosophy.
I proceeded to do my Masters Degree and came back to Tsetsebjwe upon completion.
I was posted to Sedibelo School in Mochudi in 2001 until I retired in 2004.
Q: Beside teaching and acting what else do you do?
In 2007 I was appointed Parliament Deputy Director-Corporate Services.
My duty was to manage performances and I had two Directors under my supervision.
I left the post in February 2011 and became a farmer.
Q: You have achieved so much from somebody who began life as a teacher.People in Kgatleng must hold you in high regard?
I think they do because I was approached by some elders to be a member of the Hospital Advisory Committee and was later appointed the Committee Chairperson.
I’m now a member of the Kgatleng Landboard after applying for the post which was advertised on local on local newspapers.
Q: What do you think is the one quality that makes you stand out?
I’m a good listener. I hate to see people hurt especially if I’m the cause of that hurt.
Q: Have you registered to vote?
Yes I have but I will not reveal the party I’m going to vote. (laughs)