He was catapulted to fame when he least expected. Two months ago Refilwe ‘Thabang MJ’ Ramokate did what he always does - he uploaded an innocent video on Facebook to make his friends laugh. The attention this attracted has overwhelmed him. Right now his page is approaching 100 000 likes, with followers even coming from abroad. MJ, as he is affectionately known, recalls very well that he uploaded the first video on his page on December 19, 2016 and the raving reviews that it got kick-started something in him to go ahead and keep uploading videos. His videos have already found airplay in South African television channels like the SABC with even radio stations calling him for interviews.
He is now overwhelmed by his instant rise in fame and the support he is getting worldwide even from people who do not speak Setswana – though most of his videos are in the vernacular language. He has been known as the funny guy from a young age. He took part in events like Commonwealth Day celebrations from standard six and always fascinated people with his acting skills. When he was in junior secondary he was part of the school drama and was exceptional. At Form 3, he temporarily left drama to focus on his studies only to return to it at senior school. “Most of the time I was given a funny character role to play and they always knew that we would get more points. Whenever I got on stage the atmosphere will change,” he said. Acting has won him many acclaims with many awards to show. One of the school national championships that he remembers was in Francistown where he had to act as a car accident victim who was all bloody and in bandages. “This was one performance that moved people and the judges. I got best overall actor having surpassed all,” he said. After he finished his form 5, he joined a local drama group to compete in constituency drama events. He then went on to join Letsatsi Dance Theatre Group but did not stay long. The year 2015 is not worth remembering as he indulged in self-destructive binges.
“In 2016 around this time I remember I was always drinking and doing all bad things that you can think of, the police came, handcuffed us and I spent a night in a police holding cell,” he said. His turning point came last year after a one-on-one meeting with his pastor. The police cell experience made him change. “That made me feel useless and it hit me so hard. I started thinking about my life and I cried because I didn’t like the way my life was going,” he recalled. He then realised God was communicating with him, and he began committing to church. “My mother was now getting impressed because I will even wear a suit to go to church,” he said.
He said the pastor gave him prophesy and urged him to keep on praying. On December 19 when he was at his work as a Tirelo Sechaba participant, he then sat down and opened a page and started uploading videos. He got more encouraged as the likes for his videos kept on growing. “This then inspired me to start doing more videos. On December 26 my page had about 4000 likes and when this was happening I did not tell my mother,” he said. Her mother later realised, and he told her that might be what the prophet talked about in terms of his acting skills. He then continued and this attracted interviews from radio stations. His magnum video has been enjoying international massive airplay with people petitioning the ice cream brand to partner with him. He said he was just doing the magnum video for fun. With his videos being hilarious, he is advertising different products in most of them with many companies wanting to partner with him. He appreciated the support of local veteran comedian Jujuvine who always assists him and makes sure that he is not duped, especially in advertising. His mother also plays a very important role in advising him and making sure that he is not taken advantage of. He appreciated the love that Batswana are giving him and the world at large and is now ready to spread his wings and soar. On how he is dealing with the attention MJ said even though most people now recognise him when he passes around, he will continue to stay humble and focussed. He implored companies to continue bringing ideas to him so that he can advertise them while at the same time making people laugh. He is amazed at how his life has completely changed in just two months. He had to quit Tirelo Sechaba in order to focus on his business and let it grow. At the moment he is cutting it in music, having already made a song with DJ Oats that will be released soon.