Tamia speaks on Step-Up win


Poloko Mokhele

THE recently crowned inaugural winner of the Step-Up Lesotho talent search programme believes she was stronger outside than she was inside the competition.

Tamia although her fellow contestants could be better singers, her votes mobilisation strengthened her more than her fellow contestants.

Tamia was crowned the winner ahead of Nthabiseng Khetsi and Michael Sway. She took home a brand-new VW Polo Vivo, a United States record deal and a three-year IBC scholarship among others after garnering a staggering 45 372 votes.

Second placed Nthabiseng had 33 219 votes while the third placed Sway had only 16 736 votes.

The feat defied all odds. First Tamia was at one time eliminated from the top 10 after recording the least votes. Eventually, she was saved by the judges who invoked a saving mechanism that was at their disposal and she returned to the top four.

Although they were lambasted for allegedly favouring Tamia, the organisers said the mechanism was meant to create hype towards the finale.

Tamia also had to beat child birth pains and returned to the competition just four days after the birth of her first-born child and went on to bag the win just seven days after labour.

In a recent no holds-barred interview with the Weekender Lesotho Times, Tamia revealed that her strategy involved performing at different Maseru clubs and then request the audience to vote for her.

“After performing three or four songs, I would request people to vote for me as many times as possible and the plan worked,” Tamia said.

“After voting they would show me the confirmation messages.”

While Tamia may have done well, her mother was in fact the star of her campaign, investing thousands of maloti into voting. From taking bank loans to getting money from Tamia’s insurance policy, she went into full throttle with the campaign to ensure that her daughter won.

Her mother, Marina Phooko, told the Weekender in a separate interview that she left no stone unturned to ensure that her daughter won the competition. She said she would approach whoever cared to listen to her and beg them to vote including government officials.

Although she preferred not to state the actual figure she spent in the process, she said she used well over M30 000 to purchase airtime for different people so that they would vote.

“I am grateful to everyone who assisted us by voting for Tamia. I pestered a lot of people including celebrities and even government officials. I am thankful to them all. Some gave me money amounting to several thousands of maloti while I also applied for a loan and it paid off,” Marina said.

She said she did not worry about the cost of the campaign as she was determined to ensure that her daughter bagged a US record contract.

“I realised that since the competition was votes based, it was possible to mobilise votes and even invest money into it because it was more of an investment. I told myself that even if I were to spend M50 000 to get my daughter a record contract so be it. I did not even care about the car. All I wanted was for her to get the contract.”

Tamia said her mother’s determination enhanced her desire to win.

“Despite the pregnancy, I remained focused, determined and passionate in what I was doing. I must admit that I was relieved to give birth before the grand finale because I had to prepare for my performance which was a mammoth task while I was pregnant,” she says.

Tamia has also not taken her critics lying down saying they were more talk and less action.

“There is more talk than action from people who are attacking me. Maybe if they had voted in large numbers for whoever they wanted to win; they would have gotten what they wanted.

“At this point they are looking for all kinds of reasons for which I wasn’t fit to win but there is nothing tangible. I am neither connected to the show organisers nor Vodacom…I won the competition fair and square.

“Some have said I am a poor singer and should never have made it to the top 10 but I am not sorry that I won because of a practical strategy that actually worked…I am not sorry about anything that happened, because I believe this is all God’s work.

“I remember praying one day saying to God, if this is not for me, give me peace to accept that and if it is for me; give me the strength to fight for it. I fought and won.

“I am not going to allow the negativity from my critics to pull me down but will keep my head high and focus on building my music career. There are more sleepless nights in the studio and writing music ahead because I want to release an album in the future,” Tamia said.

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