An Educationalist with a Passion for Service

Lesotho

Photo: Courtesy of Mantsebeng Maepe

Petite Khahliso Khama looks much younger than her 24 years and yet can lay claim to a list of achievements that wouldn’t disgrace the CV of someone ten years older. Throughout our conversation, it is apparent that she has never been comfortable with being ‘ordinary’ and her work speaks volumes about her. She is outspoken, articulate and immensely passionate.

The young Mosotho woman, born and bred in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, was already working as a reporter for a local newspaper, Public Eye, by the time she was 17. She passed her high school exams with distinctions and earned a place among the top 10 academic achievers in the country. She juggled her studies with a range of extra-curricular school activities, including helping to run the school’s Rotaract club of which she was a founder member.

And she also managed to get her journalism career underway. She has since written for national and South African newspapers; she has worked in TV as a content producer and, at age of 19, led a TV production team of which she was the youngest member.

“My love for journalism started in high school,” she says. “I loved writing compositions and immediately after high school I joined Public Eye as a journalism trainee. It was an awesome experience and I went on to become a TV content producer with Hlasela TV where we produced content for the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

“It hasn’t all been an easy ride,” she adds.

“I had to make sacrifices because I was studying and working simultaneously. I faced challenges and I am glad that none of them came across because of my gender and age.

“I believe that it is very important as young people we look past our age, maintain good work ethics and make people see you as a colleague, a senior or for the portfolio you hold and not for your age or gender. I am grateful because, for the most part, I was able to work with people who were willing to mentor me, people who saw potential in me and played a crucial role in grooming me.’’

Khama is now involved in many projects, and her role as education advocate is one that she is passionate about. She has pioneered initiatives such as the Dream Academy, an organisation that works with Lesotho’s State Library to find technological and educational ways to aid Lesotho’s ailing education system. The organisation successfully introduced the country’s first national spelling bee competition.

“I am very passionate about my work both in the media and education advocacy. I believe passion and perseverance can take you places if you put your heart and efforts into making your ideas and dreams a reality.”

Photo: Courtesy of Mantsebeng Maepe

Her work in media and education earned her a place as one of the first Mandela-Washington fellows, an initiative launched by US President Barack Obama to identify and groom potential African young leaders.  She and a few other fellows were selected by First Lady Michelle Obama to sit on an advisory committee on improving the enrolment of girls in schools in Africa. This, she says, was the experience that remains closest to her heart because the issue resonates with her so well.

“The excitement was not about sitting at the table next to the First Lady, but about making my voice heard in the midst of leaders on a topic so close to my heart, which is education. This made me realise how important it is for us as individuals to strive to sit on the decision-making table, because it is such opportunities that decides your future and that of the voiceless.”

Khama’s achievements have also been recognised by the Moremi Initiative’s Leadership Development Program. The program identifies and selects 25 fellows, all African women who have the potential and passion to take on transformational leadership roles. It puts them through rigorous training to give them the skills they need to become effective leaders. She is a recipient of a Social Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa award.

And yet she remains modest and credits her mother and aunt for her success, for always making sure that she maintained good credits at school and encouraging her to take the opportunities that have come her way.

Photo: Courtesy of Mantsebeng Maepe

“My first experience was after passing with distinctions and I started getting invites from organisations and teachers to share my story on how I achieved my good grades,” she says.

“Since then the world has become my playground. I’m glad I get to travel and at the same time do what I love, which is engaging in conversations that matter around education and other development issues.”

Khama believes that life is a choice and that we all have to make a decision on whether we remain mere observers or become part of the story. She believes that the company one keeps is a reflection on their life and outlook, and so she only keeps friendships with likeminded individuals. And she believes that failure is a key part of success.

“The beauty of pursuing one’s dreams at an early age is that money is not an issue, and you are in a better position to take risks, fail and do things right. Don’t be afraid to fail. We all learn through failure.”

Photographer & Videographer Credit: Mantsebeng Maepe

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  • Moureen Njule Eseme
    Quite motivational. Keep flying high!
  • Yande Kalengo
    Wow! Keep rising. 
  • Uzoma Katchy
    The need  for Education cannot be over emphasized. Education empowers women and  enables them  to explore opportunities that will enhance their general well being.Education gives  them a Voice.
    Education builds a woman's self esteem, breaks barriers and limitations handed down through age long  held beliefs..
    Education gives women and girls the ability to choose and to  make  informed decisions.
    Education levels the playing field across gender.
    I am passionate about education. I really desire to see every girl child and women given this opportunity to build their mental capacity and strength. 
    Khama is an inspiration and a worthy mentor.
  • Stella Bakibinga
    Great Petite. Keep it up!
  • Joy Eze
    Great!Thanks for sharing your inspirational story.
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