Isibaya actress Phumelele (Ayanda Borotho) speaks on cheating scandal, marriage and her new book


Actress Ayanda Borotho is all about women empowerment

…she dishes on her book, life lessons and her Isibaya character’s storyline

Time flies, time is known to pass in irreversible successions, time has always defined how the joy of meeting is greater than the painful sorrow of partying ways.


When Ayanda Borotho wed the polygamous taxi boss, she thought she had had a decision she would not ever regret. Little did she knew that time had something in store for her, coming across a childhood sweetheart who went on to promise her heaven on earth. What will she do?

Mpiyakhe Zungu (played by Siyabonga Thwala) made it public that he was still married to his first wife, Siphokazi (Celeste Ntuli), when he proposed to Phumelele (Ayanda Borotho), the young woman who was more than ready to wed him.

Phumelele then became the perfect makoti, not even complaining when her husband began courting other women outside of their marriage. However, something different was yet to come, when the past visited her, least expected.

A childhood boyfriend just resurfaces, from nowhere, promising her the biblical Canaan 'the land of milk and honey’ away from her troubled marriage . . .


After a seven year stint with Isibaya, Ayanda (38) her love for the role she plays in the prominent show has not faded.

“Phumelele exposed me to a world I would not have really engaged with. I’m liberated and educated. We tend to view women like Phumelele as oppressed.

“But as I always say, women are the same everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or a cleaner – our issues, struggles and challenges are the same, even though the degrees may vary. It’s an honour to be part of some-thing I feel passionately about,” she said.

On set, temperament flares up when her character’s daughter sees her lovingly hugging her old boyfriend, Fenyang (Aubrey Poo). The girl notifies her father, who would see Phumelele’s actions almost unforgiveable.

However, Ayanda still has a lot to admire from her character who stands for what she believes in, even if it means standing alone. “She’s solid. Even with the Fenyang situation, she was solid in her own truth. She’s solid in her values, solid in who she is.

“She isn’t breaking, she hasn’t said, ‘ There’s this man who can give me a better life’, even when there have been several opportunities presented to her. She knows herself; it’s not about this man,” said.

As reported by Move, the Zungu marital drama has left fans across the country divided into two camps. Ayanda admits that she can’t even go shopping without people talking to her about Phumelele, dragging her into their debates, and she enjoys the interaction.

“I’m stopped at the counters for debates and disagreements on what’s happening or is bound to happen. I can’t just pay for my stuff and go anymore,” she said with a laugh.

As she sees it, the storyline is a hit in town because it’s a reflection of the male-controlled society people live in.

“All men see is betrayal. They see Phumelele as someone who stepped out of her marriage. That’s the thing with this patriarchal society – men see things from their point of view – and they prescribe from their point of view, to the point that they can’t see there’s a hurt, broken woman fighting for herself.

“It’s important to understand that the standards we’re held to are different. Men can go and cheat as and when, come back and be forgiven,” she said.


The actress is bold in speaking her position, especially regarding women’s issues. Ayanda explores this important matter in her new book, Unbecoming to Become: My Journey Back to Self, which looks into the topic of women empowerment.

The novel is born out of her own experiences and life journey. It digs into the constraints and expectations put on women by society, and also looks at those women place on themselves.

“It’s 420 pages of my truth. There was no way I could write the book and sugar-coat it. There are some elements in the book that’ll shock you.

“Some people will say, ‘You have an image to protect, why are you speaking about this?’ But that’s the thing – I don’t have an image to protect, I have Ayanda to protect,” she said.

According to Ayanda, her story relates to all women. “I drew many parallels from my character and my life when I wrote about the stage in every woman’s life before marriage, and when we’re married. What I know for sure is that marriage shouldn’t be bondage.

“Marriage should be a safe and liberating space where people grow to be their best version while honouring each other,” she said.


The sharp contrast, in real life Ayanda is happily married and blessed with four lovely kids. One day, she’d love to give her two girls away in marriage, and see them walk down the aisle. However, she doesn’t want them to be blinded into thinking that marriage is the be-all and end-all in life.

“Marriage is what women aspire to, but once you get married women stop growing because all they’ve aspired to is marriage. The problem is that there are changes mentally and emotionally and because you’re told that you’ve arrived, you suppress your growth,” she explained.

Just like Phumelele, Ayanda has been on a journey of self-realisation. “I met my husband 12 years ago,” she told Move. “By the time I met him I was ready to settle down. You know, you kind of mould yourself in a certain way so you can be picked to be the wife-material type. But there were a lot of things about me he didn’t know.”

It is in the writing of her book that helped her, and her husband, understand some of her feelings. “It really has done wonders for my marriage,” Ayanda said.

Her hope is to see women use both Phumelele’s unfolding story and her book to self-discover themselves.

“Live, but don’t leave yourself behind. We often leave ourselves behind because we’re everything to everyone.

“Who are you to you?” She questioned.

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