Tuesday, February 5, 2008


By Sivu Nobongoza

I got to chat to one of South Africa’s top talents, Siyabonga Ngwekazi. Man ooh man does this boy know how to flip the script. Driven by passion to the core, Siya is internationally known and locally respected. The guy you see on TV is the guy for real. He’s easy going and ready to set his print on the Hall of Fame. This is what he had to say in short….

Growing up, did you always want to be a presenter?
Actually on the contrary, I always wanted to be an academic. I wanted to be an accountant. Growing up in PE, it was one of the professions that it was acceptable to be. At school I had a passion for basketball. I used to watch Jam Alley and things, but I never imagined I’d make it to Jozi.

So you’re from PE…

Yeah. I was born KwaMagxaki, but grew up in New Brighton.

Would you say that, the fact that you articulate yourself well in English and Xhosa, in your presenting has played a big role in catapulting your career?
Mosdefinitely! It isn’t even a character I play. It is who I am! It is vitally important for us to learn our native tongues or else they will become extinct. I give credit to SABC for giving us the opportunity to reserve our culture and languages. We need to retain our mother tongues as not to lose ourselves.

You’re well traveled. Where have you been and what would you say is your No.1 destination?
I’ve been to every continent except for South America. In North America I’ve been to New York, Chicago, L.A, Washington DC… just to name a few. In Europe, I’ve done London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam etc…but with all the places I’ve been, as a black man there is no place like home, Joe, with our load-shedding and all. (Note to Readers: Siya just came back from China)

We did a poll and Street Journal came out tops with 80% of our readers choosing it as their urban culture program of choice. Why do you think that is?
That’s a no-brainer! We (Street Journal) offer the viewers the non-regular viewing: that being your arts & culture; we mix it up with your regular: that being your favourite stars, music and all that jazz; and then give you some of the content you want: some of that international flavour and some local flavour. I think what we have goes beyond locations, camera angles, and the music we present. It’s about shaping and building Mzansi!

What other duties to you have on Street Journal?
Apart from presenting the show, I’m also my very own stylist. I have a partner, Bianca who sits down with me and we decide what works and doesn’t. I used to also write my own scripts, but with all the responsibilities that come with the job, I no longer do that anymore.

Like many great visionaries, you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. What else are you involved in?
Street Journal, Sports Buzz, SASOL Soccer Scene, Spike (a Volleyball program), Ama kip-kip (clothing label) Smirnoff Experience (where he basically follows Akona Ndugane around the world with Smirnoff.)

Who are your favourite SA recording artists?
Prokid, Tumi & HHP. I have a lot of respect for their delivery as well as how they’ve maneuvered themselves within the industry. Tumi managed to get into the limelight some time ago. HHP has recently bowled everyone over, but it seems like there are a lot of haters who aren’t to keen to see a kasi boy like Prokid make it out there. (Note: Haters; Pro’s gonna make you eat your words)

With everything you do, when do you get to chill and what do you do?
I hardly ever chill. As you can see I have a lot of work to do. But a day chilling with me would start with me sleeping in till late. I’d wake up, do my laundry, upload some music; I probably won’t wash unless my honey’s coming over (Note to readers: Sorry Ladies he’s taken), then I’d chill out with her for the rest of the day.

What do you think need to happen for SA artist to get more recognition to boost their careers in SA?
Mzansians need to have access to disposable income. Also artists need to register themselves as their own companies. There are too many guys in this game who are getting run down because their product isn’t registered. If you look at the US, those guys have a company for everything, from production, for clothes, for ideas, for this and that… We’re too busy waiting for someone else to do it for us. Cat’s here, need to work harder and get their work out there so that the record companies can see that they have a following.

The only way you’re going to do that is to get you product out there and the companies can see your following. Look at the Mixtape regime in the States. Once people know your product then the record labels will give you marketing spend, because they can identify with your target market. Also, more South Africans need to start buying homegrown products. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, but everyone shrugs it off, because its from here. They’re never going to know unless they buy it.

What can we expect from you in the near future?
I’d like to put a whole lot of focus on my fashion label, Ama kip-kip. I don’t think there is enough being done in SA for Men’s fashion and I’d like to play a role in changing that. I also would like to go back to my hoe town and give motivational talks to young people. I want to give back what I was given and show them that they too can make it.


mangwanya said...

Love love love Siya

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practise anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)

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