In a post I wrote a while back I mentioned being surrounded by some phenomenal women. One of these women is an old friend I was honestly kinda jealous of, back in sixth grade. She was cool, dynamic, and knew the lyrics to all the songs! (LOL) Our Cameroonese teacher would bring up a song and a few of us would sing as he wrote on the chalk board. As many different scholastic experiences as I have had, that remains one of the most memorable and fondest time of all. One room, 90+ students, no A/C, learning about Civics and singing Hip Hop and R&B songs.
Let’s get back to this astounding woman, though, this alkemist of sorts.
is Seko Shamte.
She kindly agreed to answer some questions for me, as I began a series of interviews of women who are successful in their chosen paths. I am no longer jealous of her, but am uber proud of her work ethic, her determination, and her conviction in the work that needs to be done to tell Africa’s true stories, and I am honored to call her my friend. I am happy to see her soar high as she surveys the world to see what she is going to film next. Without further ado… here is my interview with Seko Shamte:
I can honestly say that my day changes on a daily basis. No two days are alike. I wake up at different times and do different things in different order. I have spent my entire adult life trying to make some sort of routine for myself but I am a lost cause. I guess I live pretty intuitively and go with the flow in terms of how I am feeling. All I know for sure is that I will wake up in the morning, work at some point, read for a few hours, probably make dinner at some point and do some type of meditation/self-care activity at some point. It also depends on where I am in the production timeline. The only time I am forced to have a routine is when I am actually shooting since I have to be on set at a particular time every day for extended periods of time. When I am writing, brainstorming, meeting clients etc I am all over the place in terms of my schedule. — I wrote all this only to look at the next question and realize that you wanted to know my 9-5 (oh boy) I am a filmmaker.
Yes, filmmaking is my career or perhaps more of a calling.
I did my major in finance with a minor in media studies since I always knew this was my path. Finance was there for insurance but it comes in pretty handy when I am budgeting.
My college experience was amazing because I was in a big, exciting city and it opened my eyes to so many interesting subjects. I am a learner and so suited for college life.
I just want to get these African stories out there. Africa is this amazing, vast tangle of cultures and stories, and I want to be one of its ambassadors.
First of all, thank you. It means a lot coming from you. I learned about Mkwawa when I was in secondary school and the way his legacy was explained to me always felt “off” in the sense that it was told from the Western rather than Tanzanian perspective. Our (Tanzanian) history teacher said that Mkwawa killed himself because he was “a coward, as most Africans are”. I intuitively knew that there was something wrong with this approach and started researching him myself. Over time, I became enamored with his story and I knew I would tackle it at some point. It only took me 16 years to get it done haha.
To be perfectly honest I don’t think that very much progress will be made. Filmmaking is a capital intensive business and it really requires access to equipment and techniques from a young age. Our government is currently in the throes of removing the arts from the curriculum so our creative minds will be forced to take up accounting or some such occupation. No art, no commerce, no film.
There has been some sexism here and there but as a producer and director, I sit at the top of the cast and crew hierarchy on set, so in many ways, I am pretty protected by my position.
Female – My mom and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because they have broken any barriers in their minds that could have stopped them from achieving the exact lives that they wanted to lead and they make it look so easy. There is an assuredness in their stride that I could only hope to emulate in my lifetime.
Male – My dad and husband – They are both very reasonable people. It seems like a simple trait but it requires a high wire act of empathy and apathy at the same time. They are also great judges of character and haven’t steered me wrong yet.
1. You are your first priority and are responsible for your happiness.
2. You have free will
3. Don’t spend your life fighting with your body – please – use that energy for ideas.
1. Don’t be a people pleaser and get caught up in others opinions of you.
Thanks for tuning in. See you next time!
ABOUT SEKO SHAMTE:
Seko Shamte is a writer, producer, and director from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
She was born and raised in Dar es Salaam with brief stints in the United States of America where she attended university, graduating with a Bsc. in Finance (Hons.) and a minor in Media Studies from Marymount Manhattan College in NYC, NY.
She has been instrumental in getting Tanzanian stories on international television screens since 2008, producing news stories for CNN International, ABC networks in the US and the BBC in the UK.
She began her career as the head of programming at East Africa Television since its inception in 2003, creating many of its seminal programs including City Sounds, Ze Comedy and many more hits. She left in 2008 to set up Alkemist Media with the mission of making meaningful African content that would uplift and educate its people.
Her many projects where she served as a writer, producer, and director, include:
- Mkwawa: Shujaa wa Mashujaa, a feature documentary on the life and death of Chief Mkwawa of Uhehe who defeated the Germans in a pivotal battle, during colonialism. Link to trailer click here
- The Team Tanzania, a 13-part television show that is also available on YouTube. Click here to see the first Episode.
- And her first feature film, Homecoming. To view the trailer, please click here.