A few months ago, when he told his close friend that he was making his own car, the friend thought he was getting crazy. That was, until Mr Motlomelo Motlomelo made the beast! Now he is beginning to get orders from people who just want to drive something different!
His potential clients are in and outside the country. Up in France, they are not asking for his car. They are asking for him, “bring that guy up here because we know you are going to ensure his talents go to waste.”
“Amenez cet homme ici parce que nous savons que vous allez vous assurer que ses talents seront gaspillés,” dit les Français
Today, let’s talk about the man behind the beast.
He lost his father when he was very young, leaving the mother of five to care for her five children. Then, when he was a teenager, he lost his mother too.
“I and my younger brother helped each other to take care of the the other kids.”
He still remembers the time when his mom was still alive. They were so struggling that she couldn’t pay for their school fees at one point. “I was once expelled from school for not being able to pay M22 school fees. My siblings were expelled too.”
He had to find a piece-job in construction and that was where he started showing his ability to get things done. In the piece-job, he excelled so much that he impressed his superiors despite the young age.
In the end, he was back to school, after collecting enough money to pay, not only for his school fees, but for those of his siblings too. He coud’nt go far. He had to care for the young ones. He dropped out after standard 7 and started the life of a hustler. “One of the things I had to work hard to teach myself was to, at least, speak English. I knew I woud need such skills to be able to read. I am a reader.”
He said had he not taught himself, he wouldn’t know much of anything because, in those days, “you could’nt speak that language after attending a public school and dropping out after standard 7.”
He would later teach himself many other things too.
His first business was that of making tables and other furniture. At that young age, he got the first principle of starting a business right, “everytime I made some money, I would reinvest some of it in better tools.”
Then he left furniture and found a job in contruction. He became very good at a specific form of roofing and contractors loved him for that.
He used some of the money he made there to buy himself all kinds of equipment. He would find himself immersed in capentry and welding, making all kinds of objects and furniture.
Genius can never be quite still, the say. Even as he making all these things, he is famously remembered for inventing a gun that nearly killed him during testing, the gun that eventually got him briefly arrested.
Back to his core business, he still recalls being hired to put furniture into one house and being paid with a car that had a broken engine. He used some of his money to get the engine fixed. As he joined the fixing team, his interest in cars was sparked.
“I found myself continually fixing my car and learning more and more about it,” he said.
Before he knew it, he was no longer fixing his own car, “other cars were popping up in my backyard for fixing.”
With time, he moved to a rented space where he could do the fixing of cars better. In no time, he was the talk of the town among motorists, with motorists happily recommending him to one another.
He woudn’t believe his fortunes when later found himself owning a 490 square metre well equipped workshop (Tlome Auto Style) where he does all kinds of things under the roof, with a workforce of nearly 20 people, some of whom have good education.
While this particular car has created a buzz, it is not the first he made. He still remembers making one that only caught the attention of a few South African newspapers but never got as much as a single mention in Lesotho many years ago. “People were not interested in innovation back then,” he said.
This time around, he wanted to do something really good. Having visited car shows around Southern Africa, he was inspired to try making another car because, “quite frankly, I knew I could beat some of the guys who showcased their cars there.”
But he first had to buy proper machinery—some of it was really expensive. Then he went on to a one and half month journey to make this car. “You will know more about it in the coming weeks,” he said, “stay tuned.”
If he gets buyers, he thinks he can build and test more cars at a small scale to have a truly made-in-Lesotho car for the very first time.