Mampho Brescia relinks with land of student days Japan
Many of us know actress Mampho Brescia as Iris from Isibaya, but to her famous friends Terry Pheto, Pallance Dladla and Clement Maosa she is known by her nickname Dragon.
The mythical creature in Japanese mythology symbolises magical power and transformation. It's only fitting that the statuesque beauty was on Friday unveiled by the Japan Ambassador in Pretoria as the first ever Brand Japan Ambassador for South Africa.
It's an even more appropriate role for Brescia because in 2000, at the age of 23, she began a two-year stint as a student in Japan. She had benefited from a scholarship which landed her a place as an exchange student at Soka University.
She also learnt Japanese during the time.
"It was life-changing. First of all, I didn't know Japanese. I have never been to a place where there were so many people at one time," she recalls.
"There were so many challenges, for example the Japanese are such avid bike riders. Having to travel to school on a bicycle in a mountainous region I got fit for sure and lost a lot of weight.
"I learned to ride a bike, carry an umbrella and speak on my cellphone at the same time. I climbed Mount Fuji and I was not an outdoor person. It was never my ambition, which was very challenging for my personality."
In essence, her ambassadorship position requires of her to help sell all that's good about Japan to South Africans. In September, Brescia will travel to the Land of the Rising Sun to meet role players in areas such as entertainment, tourism and public services.
"We want to start a relationship between South Africa and Japan so we can understand each other from a much better perspective. I went there when there was no social media.
"Now there is social media and it's easy to bring South Africans with me to experience what Japan is like - from a geographical and cultural point of view.
"Hopefully we will get to export what we do here."
In case you were wondering, Brescia reveals that she got her nickname of Dragon on the set of Isibaya.
"When we were doing acting exercises it came to their minds that I have this spirit of a dragon - a mystical creature that doesn't exist on earth, it breathes fire and is very powerful," she shares.