Lindani Nkosi reflects on 'the greatest thrills' of his acting career on 'Takalani Sesame'
Over the years, TV viewers have seen Lindani Nkosi play a range of characters and been captivated by his villainous roles, but many do not know the actor is also a muppeteer on the popular children's series Takalani Sesame.
For 23 years, Lindani has portrayed the character of Moshe, the big yellow meerkat.
In an insightful Q&A, the actor delves into his work and the impact he has been able to make through Moshe.
When did you realise your interest in muppeteering?
When I was younger, I was introduced to the art of muppeteering and instantly became enamoured. I realised that muppeteering is a totally different style of acting from what I was used to. A couple of years later, I found my way to Takalani Sesame — where I play the part of Moshe.
How long have you been a muppeteer at 'Takalani Sesame', playing the role of Moshe?
I have been playing the character of Moshe since Takalani Sesame season one, which debuted in 2000. The funny thing is that I have continued to appreciate this lovely and charming art form ever since. Seeing the looks on the faces of many South Africans when they learn that I have been playing Moshe, the enormous yellow meerkat, all along makes it much more fun now. It resembles a well-kept secret.
What have been your most memorable moments on the show?
Perhaps one of the greatest thrills of my acting career has been participating in the magic created at Takalani Sesame. A great deal of effort is put into ensuring that the final product is of a high quality. For instance, we develop curriculum frameworks before the launch of every season, which guide what we do for the long term. Further, when it comes to the topics that we explore on the show, we traditionally conduct rigorous research in early childhood development so that we can be as accurate as possible.
Second, through Takalani Sesame, I have also been involved in an important effort that teaches kids the value of compassion towards one another — one of the most crucial life lessons. Maybe more than anything else, the show's collaborations with individuals with special needs — both adults and children — is another element that makes me happy. To create equality among common people and experiences, it has been such an honour to assist in advancing the inclusion of all individuals through Takalani Sesame.
Do people say anything interesting when they hear you are a muppeteer?
Almost every time! When people see the person behind Moshe, they are always shocked. For instance, I recently trended on Twitter after someone tweeted that they were surprised to discover that I played Moshe. Because my voice sounds different when I am speaking as Lindani and Moshe, I think people who grew up watching the show find it difficult to connect the two.
On the other hand, I am aware that some people would rather the illusion remain unaltered, but since I am an actor for film and television, the projects I work on eventually become public knowledge. 'No, it can't be you, because Moshe doesn't have a deep voice,' is the typical reaction that I get from some people I meet.
In a different world, what would you say to Moshe from 'Takalani Sesame' if you met him as a fan?
I would certainly wish Moshe a very happy birthday and hope that he gets to celebrate it with all of his friends at Takalani Sesame given his birthday is approaching on November 30.
What have been the show's highlights for you?
It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that I had one of my most memorable moments from the show. The national lockdown presented us with a chance to truly leave our mark on South African kids' hearts, since Takalani Sesame was a major source of entertainment for them while they learned. With the launch of season 13 in 2022, which focuses on Big Feelings, kids also had the chance to begin learning about the overwhelming emotions that people feel sometimes — an important aspect of early childhood development.
Second, I would say, the Takalani Sesame theme song is without a doubt one of the most unforgettable aspects of the show. The well-known South African composer Caiphus Semenya wrote and created the composition. No matter where you are in the world, as soon as the Takalani Sesame song starts playing, if you are a South African who grew up in the early 2000s, you will quickly start singing and dancing along. The nostalgia it evokes makes you forget about the problems of the real world and revives your sense of childlike innocence.
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