society

June 7, 2022

BUSISIWE TJEKOA

3 min read

Award winning Ayesha breaks barriers

Award winning Ayesha breaks barriers

Lesotho's young top filmmaker, Ayesha Khuele

Story highlights

  • The New York Film Festival nominee dreams on
  • Ayesha’s movies have gained global recognition

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AT the age of 12, Ayesha Khuele was named best speaker at the national school debate competition. Ten years later, Ayesha is an award winning filmmaker, actress and ambassador for someone who grew up dreaming to become a lawyer.

Her newly found passion in activism has urged her to enroll for a film and television degree at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

“But many people were not buying it, especially my mother,” says Ayesha. “She has never been a fan of the creative arts because the local industry is fledgling with few financial prospects.”

In her first year at Limkokwing, she was appointed school ambassador - during which time she also made a film called Molisana.

“It was an outside of school project,” she says. “Surprisingly, the film got nominated in different countries including Lesotho, US, Portugal and the UK.”

In 2019, Ayesha was nominated the youngest director for the New York Film Festival.

“After getting all the sponsors, unfortunately COVID-19 happened,” she recalls. “The whole world went into lockdown and my heart bled as I spent a whole week in bed. The pandemic ripped off my chance to attend the New York Film Festival.”

Ayesha made another movie, Tormented, which won the best short film award at the Lesotho Film Festival.

“The movie did better than Molisana financially,” the young talented movie producer says. “The only thing Molisana gave me was the limelight in the film industry. Tormented did well because we recovered the money spent…”.

Otherwise, Ayesha adds, that Tormented recently got nominated for the Nigeria Women Film Festival. Writer and director of her movies, she tackles social issues, human trafficking, rape, teenage pregnancy and homelessness.

“My movies are centred around children because they are very close to my heart and I want to bring that awareness,” Ayesha says. Apart from making films, she is also a global U-Reporter ambassador. Her journey started when she joined MISA Lesotho as a child journalist, where UNICEF realised her potential.

“They found me a suitable candidate to be a U-Reporter ambassador Lesotho,” she says.  

U-Report is a messaging tool and data collection system developed by UNICEF to improve citizen engagement, inform leaders and foster positive change. Entering the global U-Report competition, Ayesha was ranked among the top 10 people who then had to compete in Belgium.

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“I was honoured to represent Africa in Belgium and tackle issues affecting the continent,” she recalls. “I wasn’t representing only Lesotho over there and the whole experience as mind blowing.”

Ayesha admits that meeting different people from other countries and learning how they live is truly amazing.

“It made me love and appreciate my country more,” she notes. “It made me realize that Lesotho was far better than many other countries.”

Ayesha’s dream is to see the youth get involved in U-Report so that they could voice their opinions openly. Also, a nail technician after receiving a nail kit hamper from UNICEF, she saw an opportunity to generate income and took it.

 “I started practicing on people free of charge until I mastered the craft,” she says.  

The multi-talented photographer sometimes takes portraits and covers festivities to earn extra income. In 2020, Ayesha joined the cast of Bophelo - a local television drama that aired on Lesotho Television (LTV).

“Initially, I was to join the drama as part of the production team but I was highly occupied by school work, so I auditioned for the role of Zuki and I got in,” she recalls.

Looking back, Ayesha says starting acting at the tender age of 10 laid the foundation after she joined a drama club in primary school where she was cast for a role in a drama called Sarafina.

“My dream is to one day build a shelter for the unprivileged children,” she says. “I want to make sure that every child gets their right to education, a dream that might become a reality because I work closely with UNICEF”.

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