Smart, funny, confident and sincere. That’s Masechaba Ndlovu. That she’s insanely gorgeous and immaculately put together is something many have become accustomed to.
Sitting opposite her at one of Melrose Arch’s five-star establishments, it’s easy to see why she’s revered by many. Aside from being attentive and friendly, her sentiments are heartfelt. A rare trait in showbiz.
With Ndlovu hailing from a media background, there was a sort of kindred spirit during our tête-à-tête. She started her career at eNCA with eNews Africa. “I pioneered the platform with Tony Ndoro. And after two or three years, I was approached to do a debate
show on SABC1. It was hard to leave,” she said.
Finding herself at a crossroads and declining the offer three times, it was only after happening upon a talk that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University that she took a leap of faith.
“It was called Connect The Dots. There are multiple facets to making a decision like this. It’s about feeding your purpose as much as it is about feeding your stomach. taking a leap of faith, regardless of the industry you’re in, requires preparation, mentally and financially. Look at me today, I can get up on stage and give talks. I run classes,” Ndlovu said.
Experience, of course, was key to her progress.
“Every show and every experience has, in one way or another, equipped me. I hosted a wrestling show, a while back. Mind you, I have no interest in sport, definitely no interest in wrestling, but what I took away from that show (she has since removed it from her profile) – and this is the first time I’m speaking about it in an interview – is that it gave me a live studio audience experience.”
Just for the record, she did wear a skimpy outfit… but she had lines, too. Another one of Ndlovu’s learning experiences was working at Urban Brew Studios where she encountered what at first appeared to be exploitation.
“I teach young people that when you don’t have the experience, technically, you cannot be exploited. You exploit the company. You take that experience, turn that mentality around, and let them use you. I did anything and everything you can imagine from researching, writing, content producing, voiceovers, and
didn’t get an extra cent for any of it, which was good for me.
“It was good for my profile. It was my university. I did it all with love.”
That pretty much sums up her entire approach to her career. Her ability to listen attentively to people is what makes her such an amazing fit for BET Africa’s second season of The Big Secret.
“It’s about being in the moment,” she noted. And her followers agree on social media, too – something she cherishes and acknowledges in her interactions with them.
Going back to an episode I watched before our chat, the one where she was helping Smangaliso purge himself of a secret that had tormented him since childhood, she opened up about how her stepfather had sexually abused her.
It wasn’t revealed for shock value or to boost ratings. She simply connected with him and wanted him to know he wasn’t alone.
That kind of genuineness is a hard find in a host.
“I was thinking about how on the show, you are dealing with one person’s secret but when you really look at the whole family, you go, ‘this isn’t just eating him up… it actually the reason why this family is rotting’.
By revealing one person’s secret, you will be amazed by how liberating it is to other family members.”
Healing is the outcome of the show and it’s a mitigating factor on her wanting to be a part of it.
“We are almost breaking generational curses on the show. We have a big job on our hands. I’m someone who reveres the truth and knows and understands that power of living a liberated life.
“I’ve lived a life where I’ve been through a lot as a young person, a teenager and as a child. I’ve seen what harbouring negative or toxic energies or secrets can do in my own family with a mother who eventually developed cancer as a result of bottling things up. And I saw the power in facilitating conversations to really change peoples lives.”
On revealing her secret, she said: “That was huge because none of my family members knew except for my mom. The moment I watched the show, the minute I heard myself say that… my heart skipped a beat. I can feel the heads rolling in my family already. So, ja, that’s how my secret came out.”
Determined to change the narrative of how she was raised, she maintains open discussions with her 10 and six-year-old sons as a means to equip them better for the world.
And she encourages them to be solutions-driven.
“My six-year-old started washing dishes when he was five. They take turns. Yes, we have a helper. As boys, they help with breakfast in the morning. The five-year-old knows how to bath himself. The only way to stop the social ills of the world is to start by empowering our children.”
In case you’re wondering whether she’s is still on radio, she was quick to point out: “I haven’t left”.
Ndlovu is a woman breaking down barriers. She might not be everyone’s favourite but she isn’t trying to be. “I am still Masechaba Ndlovu.
If I were not comfortable with my decisions in being who I am, a lot of the spotlight I’m under would shake me; it doesn’t because I’m true to myself.
“I wake up with joy in my heart every day. I raise kids I’m proud to say are my sons. I have amazing relationships, personally and professionally. Both my ex-husbands are in my life, regardless of what people have to say about that.”
* The Big Secret is on BET Africa (DStv channel 129) on Wednesday, 9:30pm.