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Unfinished Story


My uncle uMalum’Thabani introduced me to Stimela music. He would bring out his Technics Hi-Fi and he and Malum’Musa would play chess or have lengthy facial shaving sessions from the ‘basin-on-a-chair’ outside, with Stimela playing in the background. Malum’Musa would be under the bonnet of his Ford XR3, sending me for spanners, with Stimela playing in the background.

Four years ago, someone who knew I love Stimela so much, took a pic with Oom Ray for me.

When I started working on Sithakela Isizwe in 2012 the second interview of that show, was with Oom’Ray – it wasn’t a work interview for me, it was my childhood. It was my memories with my uncles. It was my memories of KwaMadlala. I was shaking with excitement and sheer happiness.

At the end of May, he was set to perform in Durban and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t go to the performance because of a family commitment.

We interviewed Oom’Ray that week and I commented to the show producer that he wasn’t as bubbly as he usually is. Last week one of the producers told me that he was very ill but we had just just spoken to him.

The drums on the live version of Phinda Mzala. The memories of my uncle Thabani and I singing ‘sondela nganeno, come to me, zwakala…’ Malum’Thabani saying ‘uyabona Mshanam, iStimela, weeee, weeee, weeeee!’ One of my uncles singing along and looking at me saying ‘Awu shani shani kaMalume!’ as I joined in the singing / dancing to one of the steam tracks.

I never write about people passing. But Oom’Ray is my uncles, three men that I love and who taught me so much and who love me so much.

Oom’Ray is my memories of my rural roots KwaMadlala, of us blasting that music with no fear of neighbours complaining because the nearest neighbour was a kilometer away.

Oom’Ray is my memories of MaSangweni who would more often than not, be playing solitaire while his music played.

Oom’Ray interviews were interviews that were for me. Not the station, not the listeners but for me.

Music is magic. Music transports, music transcends, music births, music heals. Stimela’s music transported me, always and without fail to my childhood, to people who mean the galaxy to me.

Lala ngoxolo Oom’Ray. You gave me more than just music.

Stimela: Unfinished Story 

Sithakela Isizwe

Four times a week, I spend 3 hours behind the microphone and I interview 4 people per show (sometimes more). That’s 12 interviews per week, 48 interviews per month and 576 per year.

I wish I had a copy of every interview I’ve done, I really do. Every interview is a lesson and it’s also growth. I’m pretty sure that I don’t sound the same as I did when I started out in November 2004 and I’m quite sure that I don’t sound the same on Sithakela Isizwe as I did when we first started the show in April 2012.
But I do have some of the interviews. Take a listen.

Sithakela Isizwe noZakes Bantwini 
Here we experimented with something we had never done on the show previously; we hosted Zakes Bantwini with a live studio audience with a live performance to wrap up the show.

Sithakela Isizwe noDr Sandile Shabalala 
It’s part of my job to discuss somewhat sensitive topics. Dr Shabalala came through to spend time with us in studio, discussing men’s health.

Sithakela Isizwe: Ikhaya Lethu noRev Hawu Mbatha
One of the highlights of this year has been the opportunity to be in conversation with Reverend Hawu Mbatha on Ikhaya Lethu. The insights and the wisdom have given me many lessons and food for thought.
Being on this platform is an amazing experience. Every day, I have the opportunity to share people’s journeys with the Ukhozi FM audience and I get to learn something new (whilst having fun!) every day.

Jamie Lidell: Another Day

I read somewhere that looking at old photographs is a good way to remember good times and important occasions in our lives. We take pictures of special moments, milestones and times we want to look back on and smile. And so it makes sense that, especially on days when we need that little reminder about the good we have in our lives, we look at old photographs and relive those moments.

Facebook makes this easy for us by showing us these moments that we shared on Facebook on their anniversary. Today my Facebook memory from three years ago was of a song that I posted. It brings back good memories and it reminded me of how and why I chose and still choose to be where I am.

Be Limitless

This year I’ve had the pleasure of hosting Ikhaya Lethu, which although it forms part of the content for Sithakela Isizwe has a completely different focus. This 30-minute long segment focuses specifically on building families and is really a show with lessons on how married people can enrich their union.

In 2011 I attended a colleague’s 25th wedding anniversary and that was the first time I heard Rev Hawu Mbatha speak. He spoke so positively about the institution of marriage and made marriage sound so doable that I always joke that listening to him on that evening made me also want to have an anniversary.

Rev Mbatha is now a contributor to Ikhaya Lethu and having the opportunity to work with him on the show has been a great learning experience for me; both in the context of what he shares with listeners on the show as well as the opportunity to sit down with someone with such a rich history with Ukhozi FM. Many years ago, Rev Mbatha joined Ukhozi FM as producer of religious programmes and went on to head up the station, moving on to head up the SABC at provincial level, at radio management level and ultimately as Group Chief Executive of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. With such a wealth of experience and wisdom, conversations with Rev Mbatha are full of moments of learning.

One of the learnings that I took from him was a lesson in being limitless. The ability to shift your boundary of achievement every day so that you can achieve more or achieve differently every day in various contexts. It’s very tempting to stay in your familiar space, doing what you know and repeating what you do well. Having that flexible outer boundary, taking the necessary shape and form in terms of learning and exposing yourself to new environments and scenarios on a regular basis is necessary for the achievement of great things within your space. And by greatness, I don’t necessarily mean things of great public acclaim, I mean things that make a difference, shift perspectives and expand possibilities for yourself and for those around you.

I fulfil many roles and do many things on any given day and although I’ve always had the view of doing more and doing it better, I’ve now also adopted the view of, as much as possible, doing something that is new for me in that particular space or doing things differently. Even if I run for 1 kilometre more than I ran last week, I have shifted my boundary. Trying a new recipe as opposed to my tried and trusted is a boundary shift. Hiking a new trail, starting a new project in a different space, adding different layers to content for Sithakela Isizwe and Ezingasoze Zabuna or relooking how content for the shows is packaged, that is boundary shifting. It might seem small but it changes how you ‘normally do things’ and isn’t it great to discover new possibilities, a new normal and a new ability.

So going forward I’m going to make a habit of looking at all that I do and before I start asking myself, ‘How can I shift my boundary in this?’


It’s been such a pleasure being part of the Brand South Africa Inspired by my Constitution Campaign. Sharing my thoughts and information about our constitution on various platforms has really made me appreciate our constitution and has made me even prouder of being a South African.

To wrap up my contribution to the campaign, I had the opportunity to chat the team at Touch Central about why I am inspired by my constitution.

Take a listen :




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