Uhuru TV: “Anyone can speak Swahili, but it has to be authentic”

Daniel Thebe, CEO,  Uhuru TV

Daniel Thebe,
Uhuru TV

The latest of our exclusive interview series to whet appetites for this year’s TV Connect Africa (7th – 19th November 2015 Cape Town Convention Centre, South Africa)…

Today we speak to the passionate Daniel Thebe about Uhuru TV and his vision for South African broadcasting!

IP&TV News: Hi Daniel. What’s the vision behind Uhuru TV?

Daniel Thebe: Uhuru is an HIP TV station that supports multi-device screening and also OTT features – right now we are going to be focussing on sub Saharan countries, just in terms of the content sourcing.

What’s the ethos of this new platform?

The reasoning behind it is – we think we understand how to come up with content relevant to Africans because we actually speak in their mother tongues, meaning the vernacular tongues.

Anyone can speak Swahili, but it has to be authentic. If the content provider, producer and media owners really understand that lifestyle, then they can come up with authentic content. That’s our conviction.

What’s the wider significance of this kind of ‘authenticness’?

The idea isn’t to re-write the past, but to re-write the future. We still wait for CNN, for Bloomberg, to tell us what’s happening with our next door neighbour, when actually the proper person to tell the story of what’s happening here is someone local. If we are able to tell the stories to the rest of the world, then that mind-set will start to change.

The end goal is to enhance the national brand identity, as media / film always has done.

Why is South Africa in need of this kind of enhancement?

The bottom line is that South Africans don’t have a brand identity. We’re not unified. The brand identity of South Africa – which used to be that of the ‘rainbow nation’ – is lost.

In having content that speaks directly to the heart and mind of the consumer, you will hopefully have, in five or ten years, a generation that is more intrinsically proud to be a citizen and this will be reflected in their lifestyle. Take the USA, criticise them all you want but in the US, people are loyal to the flag, to anything American, and this is what I’m trying to instil in South Africa.

What obstacles do you have to contend with here?

The stumbling block thus far has been infrastructure, because broadband here can be a nightmare. It’s an issue. We were at the last TV Connect Africa, where we encountered a company called Nexx TV: we are partnering up with them to help in this area.

We are also looking for content makers, film distributors, whom we can licence content from.

Besides networking opportunities like this – what are the advantages of attending an event like TV Connect Africa?   

Never mind the connections you can make, just being there you get to learn about new equipment, infrastructure, people – it should be part of any African government’s budget to be part of AfricaCom 2015, at least those governments that want to push the communication, IP, TV sectors of their countries.

Click here for more info on TV Connect Africa (7th – 19th November 2015 Cape Town Convention Centre, South Africa)

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