Philippi celebrates television milestone

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

A group of Philippi residents and surroundings areas gathered at Bongolethu Primary School, in Philippi, to witness the official launch of Philippi TV, on Saturday July 9.

Philippi would be the first township in the province to have its own television station and the first programme of the station is expected to be aired next year in June. In the meantime, existing content can be viewed on their YouTube channel.

The station will cover areas such as Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu but it aims to branch out to other areas like Dunoon and Strand as time progress.

Founder, Sipho Zena, 32, said it was a dream come true to finally see his dream turning into a reality after many years of struggling to get support and funding to launch the station. He said since 2003 he had been trying to get the project off the ground, but due to lack of financial support he was unable to do so.

But, he said, that did very little to dampen his spirit from pursuing his dream and his perseverance finally paid off last year when he met a German businessman who believed in his idea and provided the much needed funding.

“We have produced a number of movies and series prior to the launch of the television station. One of the series that people can expect to watch is The Plan. We have done season one and two of The Plan and we are currently busy with season three at the moment. The station strives to be authentic as it aims to illustrate the real struggle faced by township residents. And our actors are from the township so who can better tell these stories than them. We also provide workshops in directing, script writing, acting, producing and how to use a camera,” he said.

Mr Zena adds that people can watch some of their shows on their YouTube channel as they are still locked in discussions with Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to give them a TV broadcast licence that would allow them to operate legally.

He said the station is youth-driven, with a focus on producing content that would appeal to young people.

Philippi TV would also provide a platform for up-and-coming actors and actresses to showcase their talent.

“I thank everyone who has supported me and those who are part of this project because without them this would not have been a reality. The television station will give young people ample opportunity to learn everything about how television functions and that would enable them to sharpen their skills before moving and joining big stations like the SABC or e.tv,” he said. He added that they had issued certificates to some of the actors and actresses recognising their sterling contribution to the station because they do not receive any sort of incentive or stipend for their work.

Baxolile Mzileni, 31, who received a certificate for best actor, was overwhelmed with excitement, saying he was at a loss for words to describe how he felt.

“This is not the first time that I have received recognition but what is different about this one is that I did not expect it and for that I’m grateful. I have decided to be part of Philippi TV because I saw that it had the potential to grow and it was something new.

“I have been acting in theatres prior to joining the station and I decided to join it to share the experience that I have with the other actors and actresses and now I’m directing season three of The Plan and I will also be hosting a youth show on the station,” he said.

Philippi resident Thabisa Thanga, 44, told Vukani that she decided to attended the launch of the station to show her unwavering support for her daughter who is involved in the venture, and encourage her to pursue her dreams. She added that crime and gangsterism were rife in the area and they are grateful that there are young people who are doing positive things in the community. “I’m so disappointed to see only a handful of parents attending this event and this discourages the children from being involved in positive activities that sharpen their lives. I urge parents to show their support. I wish all of them the best and we as the community we need to support them in any way we can,” she said.