IT requires effort for newlyweds Max (37) and Sophie (46) Lichaba to keep their hands off each other even in the presence of people, but they try.
The two well-known personalities in their own right have levelled up their relationship goals. From matching outfits, being seen together all the time, blending both families and most importantly, building a business empire, they are committed to doing it together. They are gracious to invite Move! to their suburban mansion that offers a view of Joburg’s skyscraper buildings of opulent Sandton.
MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Max, who runs Kwa-Lichaba Shisanyama, says despite having had made more than two marriage proposals before to other women, he popped the big question after four months of being together with Sophie because he knew she was the one.
For Max, who has his name on multi-million rand businesses, he has never found it difficult to find a woman. He has had women throw themselves at him because of what he has and who he is.
“For the first time in my life, I have met a woman who matches me. It actually felt good for the first time running after a woman. Although she rejected me a few times, I knew I would not give up because I had found my match,” he says.
On the other hand, for the new Mrs Lichaba, she was sceptical about getting into a relationship because of what she had gone through with men in her previous relationships.
“Usually I would decide who I wanted but this time around, I didn’t choose but God handpicked him for me,” Sophie says.
She admits that it was surreal when he actually proposed but for the first time too, she experienced a man who put her needs and happiness first. Within only four months of their relationship, he had put a ring on it. “At first I thought to myself this is too soon but in the spiritual realm, it was not soon. God blessed me with an amazing husband,” she says.
Sophie recalls what a close friend of hers said about their relationship. “She said to me, friend, if you don’t have to work too hard to love someone, you know it is real,” she says.
DEALING WITH NAYSAYERS
These are two well-known people in spaces they dabble in. Both of them have lived their lives with people watching. Max says there were people calling him to ‘warn’ him to stay away from Sophie, who is older than him.
“Someone even called my grandmother to tell her that my wife is bad for me, but I told my grandmother that all those people who are saying these things about me live miserable lives,” he says.
For Sophie, who played Queen Moroka for 20 years on SABC1’s Generations, a character that loved young hunks, it was easy to ignore the critics.
“People will judge you and feel like they know you based on a character. After all, I am human. I don’t have time to be worrying about what people think. Nobody knows what you pray about. What they think doesn’t matter, what matters is that we are happy,” she says.
Like any other relationship, there will always be challenges and for the Lichabas, it is pretty much the same. It was interesting to see Sophie fulfilling her wife duties in the house when her husband asked for his favourite rooibos tea.
Even with two helpers in the house, Sophie jumps off the couch to prepare her husband tea in nothing less than a ‘fabulous’ tea cup, tea pot and tray. After all they have been through in their lives, they say it is all through God’s grace that they are here.
TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
Sophie built her solid brand as a successful events planner with her business Sophla Events and for her, meeting a man who understands the world of business has come as a bonus.
“This man challenges me to the core. I was so used to being my own provider but because I could see the kind of man he was, I allowed him to take care of me. He is the only man who has qualified to gain that access to me. I just love him,” she says.
Max says Sophie’s work ethic amazes him. “She is hands-on. She is not just about beauty but she works so hard to get things done. This woman wakes up early to drive to Kwa-Lichaba to make sure that things are running as they should,” he says.
Since their love union started, there are plans to change the Soweto entertainment venue that houses more than 3 000 people. Sophie says now that she is around, the venue has a bit of her signature style that is classy and sophisticated.
PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOU AND FEEL LIKE THEY KNOW YOU BASED ON A CHARACTER
Not only are the two lovebirds devoted to making the business side of things work, but they have also committed themselves to making the family dynamics work too.
MAKING FAMILY WORK
“When I met her, I had so many flaws and because my love for her is too much I had to work on all my flaws,” Max says.
For their relationship to work, they had to be honest and open about their past, clear the air and deal with whatever challenges they faced.
“My husband said to me that it is not going to be easy but that we were going to work through everything together,” Sophie says.
Sophie and Max both have children from previous relationships but they make the blended family work. Max’s children visit their house and so do Sophie’s. It has only been 10 months since they have been together and they are taking every challenge as it comes.
Their children can see how happy they are together and that is what they want to keep going. Sophie has been traditionally welcomed to the Lichaba family, something that delights her. However, it would only be fitting for her to show-off her wedding planning talent at her own wedding and that is something that she intends on doing. Although she doesn't want to reveal much about the details of the big wedding day, she says it is coming and it is going to be spectacular.
In the meantime, growing their businesses together is top of the agenda for the lovely couple.