Refilwe Kumalo: The South African content junkie

We have so much to learn from each other but we lack the time to. Click To Tweet

Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce the content of your favorite television programme? Refilwe Kumalo is from South Africa and she is a content junkie who produces television shows that keep you both informed and entertained.

Content is information and experiences which are directed to audiences or users. Refilwe’s purpose is to create content that will be consumed so knowledge can be transferred. She has to spark conversations that can inspire people to be better.

She works hard at producing content that is entertaining and leaves one wanting more. Refilwe wants to be able to create memorable content that will leave a mark in society. 

What are you most passionate about?


I believe that everyone has something to offer the world. Everyone has something good and remarkable to offer. My work has made me realize how important it is to treat every single person delicately.

I studied Anthropology as a major for this very reason, which is to be able to study human norms and values in our society. We have so much to learn from each other but we lack the time to.

People’s perspectives need to be documented so stories could be told and generations to come can learn from them. As vast and different South Africa is as a nation, it has many facets and molds. Every child, household, taxi driver, miner, men-in-service, artist has a story to tell.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Funny enough a lot of people inspire me every day of my life. The ordinary person who wakes up every day to fulfill their dreams inspires me. There are many individuals in our country doing remarkable things in different fields.

I’m inspired by people who work hard and who dream big. For me it’s not about how much money you make but how you change people’s lives through the work you do. It’s about creating jobs which will put food on the table and take children to school.

The ordinary person who wakes up every day to fulfill their dreams inspires me Click To Tweet

A few people who inspire me are Khanyi Dhlomo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Basetsana Kumalo, Dr. Precious Motsepe, Folorunsho Alakija, Isabel Dos Santos, Victoria Beckham, Oprah Winfrey, Mamokgethi Phakeng, Nunu Ntshingila, Thuli Madonsela and Serena Williams.

These women are game changers and I follow their work.


What is the most interesting television show you have worked on?

Every show I’ve worked on in my ‘short’ career has been interesting and has taught me what I know today about television. From Diski Divas, which is a reality show about South African soccer wives to Mzansi Insider, which I am currently in production of.

Right now, I have enough experience to conceptualise an entire episode on my own. It’s a process but one which I’ve grown to appreciate. I’ve been privileged enough to work with great producers who allow my voice to be heard.

It is rewarding to see my work and ideas play out on the screen and also see viewer responses.

What makes a great television show?

These days television content is measured by how much it’s talked about on social media and if it trends. Well unfortunately, Twitter trends won’t get show ratings. What makes a great TV show is the experience and message it leaves the viewer with.

A great show’s content is what keeps audiences tuned in and it will result in high ratings. A lot of elements go into putting together a great TV show and in my opinion, the team behind the show plays an important role.

What makes a great TV show is the experience and message it leaves the viewer with. Click To Tweet

Being in television production I am privileged to see a show from its conception. Therefore, there are many aspects to a great TV show. From the team which is pre- and post-production, the content which is the topics on the show and what message they drive which will of course, give you high ratings.

Where do you see yourself in media ?

Definitely in conceptualizing futuristic content. Content which will engage the youth to think better and be better people.


Where will African media be in the next five years ?

Firstly, we need to treat media as informative tool not just for entertainment. I see media in Africa being driven by young people in the next five years.

The biggest voices we have today are the young people who use smartphones and social media to drive content. It’s amazing to see a lot big stories today being broken with the use of media platforms.

I see media in Africa being driven by young people in the next five years. Click To Tweet

In the same breath, all media platforms have to be monitored by stakeholders so that it can be used in the right manner and be preserved.

What is the last thing I watched on TV and why?

Botched! Hahaha I’m a sucker for reality TV.

As I said, I believe that people need to tell their own stories which will in turn teach people lessons. Botched is an interesting yet daunting show that exposes you to body image alterations which people have done to themselves.

With the rise of body image issues in Africa like skin lighting and back door plastic surgery, it is an informative show. We need to create content which seeks to engage these issues which our society faces and depict the long term results of altering or modifying our bodies in any form.refilwe-3

If you were a mobile app, which app would you be?

I would be Twitter, mainly because it drives a lot of content and allows users to be news makers.

The simplicity of it is what makes it the number one go to for us content researchers. One is able to follow trending topics all over the world by using a hashtag. I use it on a daily basis and also for research purposes.

Many brands are forced to engage with their consumers on Twitter for complaints, competitions and launching new products. PR companies and brand influencers are paid to tweet and get consumers to follow brands. What a time to be alive!

Hey South African #MotherlandMoguls, the SheHive will be in Johannesburg from November 3-6. Find out more here.

About Itumeleng Mphure

Itumeleng Mphure is a Communications Officer at the African Union Commission. Her favorite super hero is Batman because he doesn't have any super powers but uses all his resources to compete and surpass those with super natural abilities.

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