Most young people have ambitions to go to varsity after school to pursue their dreams but reality is not everyone will make it to tertiary. Thirty seven year old Mocheko Nkoana’s inability to go study further due to financial constraints later proves to be a blessing in disguise.
“I spent all my childhood in Limpopo where I did all my schooling. After matric I didn’t know what to do or what to study. I even did my matric twice, the second time I was improving my codes. My family was not well enough to pay for my further education either so I was faced with a dilemma,” he says.
Mocheko was faced with yet another challenge.
“When I was eight years old my father passed away. I literally had no dreams or ambitions after matric cos even if I did I was going to be unable to pursue them. After doing my matric for the second time I moved to Joburg.”
Mocheko had to be far from home to be close to his dreams.
“My took me for schooling in Springs College in 1998 and I helped out in his shop after school and during weekends. I started longing for my dream of being an artist while I was studying mechanical engineering. That’s when I made it clear to my mom and uncle that I rather go to Yeoville in Joburg to try my luck in performing arts.”
Mocheko was still young when his dad passed on but in 2000 he had to learn what it means to be a father.
“I told her I’d see what I’d do with my life. Honestly, I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I had to think of something. I became a father at twenty and I had to forget about a career and work for my daughter. Three years later in Springs I asked myself what was it that I wanted to do. I found a free performing arts training.”
People advised Mocheko to chin up and walk tall, and that’s what he did – literally.
“I fell in love with stilt-walking and performing for people. I started concentrating on it and spending more time improving my skills. I started learning in short stilts. I would use the walls in my house for balance. After one year into stilt-walking, I became a student exchange to Brazil under the theme ‘Art for Social Change’. We were learning from Brazilians about how arts has changed their lives and communities. Art is a great way of expressing yourself more.”
Mocheko grew even closer to his passion.
“At this point I had stopped job-hunting. My self-esteem was boosted. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life but I was performing and entertaining people and that brought fulfilment to my heart. I felt better every time I had to perform. I confirmed with myself that stilt-walking was something I wanted to do.”
Mocheko may have been performing for free but he did win people’s hearts.
“After almost 7 years of doing stilt walking , I was granted an opportunity to train 32 youth as part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Projects. I was now stuck with the group for three years. Lucky enough in 2013, 16 of my stilt walking team was invited to be part of the Opening Ceremony of the AFCON in Soccer City.
“My mom still can’t believe that I’ve been travelling the country and attending big events cos of stilt-walking. I enjoy it so much that I told mom to forget about enrolling me in a college.”
With his over 15 years’ experience, Mocheko now runs his agency that specialises in stilt-walking Gauteng Special Projects, and has trained over forty stilt-walkers so far. The biggest group in the country.
“This helped me to set up and register a company that will act as an agency that will provide stilt walkers to all events, currently also have a branch in Cape Town. I make time to share my realities and experiences through facilitations on leadership & youth empowerment projects e.g Creative Facilitation that we run in Cape Town. I’ve a dream to open an Art Centre in my village. I started late with art so I don’t want the same to happen to our children.”
He acknowledges that stilt-walking is not without its dangers but the relationships they build are worth it.
“It can end so badly if you don’t focus all the time. I’ve been so lucky. I’ve only fallen twice while on stilts. I harmed my hand so badly but I haven’t sustained any other injuries. However, this makes you social and helps you balance your relationship with the people around you.
“We interact with people all the time. This job is not for someone who’s not good with people. It not only teaches you to balance, but also how to get along with people, and how to entertain them. I love stilt-walking a lot.”
Mocheko extends his word of advice to young people.
“You have to work for what you want. Keep knocking cos people are waiting for you on the other side. Work on your life. The right people are waiting”