Grade 9 Dropout Somizi Returns to School Nearly 40 Years Later


Media personality and performer, Somizi Mhlongo, has made the decision to return to school in order to further his education. Despite having dropped out of school in Grade 9, the flamboyant 50-year-old star believes it's never too late to pursue one's educational aspirations.

Mhlongo, who recently enrolled in a fashion design course, expressed his belief in the value of education. Although he veered off the traditional educational path due to early work opportunities, he emphasized that he has always sought knowledge in areas relevant to his professional life.

“I have always believed in the value of education even though in my case the opportunities of work when still very young put me on a different path as far as formal school is concerned,” he said.

“But dropping out that early did not stop me from educating myself about anything that became part of my professional life.”

Somizi, whose parents are famous actors Ndaba Mhlongo and Mary Twala, made his acting debut when he was 15 through the 1987 film Scavengers.

Though Mhlongo is better known as a radio and TV personality, he had a long glorious career as a dancer and choreographer of international standards.

His career highlights include choreographing the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which was hosted in South Africa.

Mhlongo expressed his belief in the value of education, despite his early departure from formal schooling. He acknowledged that dropping out at a young age did not prevent him from educating himself in areas relevant to his professional life.

Having recently launched Somphire Kids, a fashion business venture, Mhlongo's passion for fashion led him to enroll in a part-time six-month course at the Villioti Fashion Institute. He plans to enhance his skills in creating garments, from design to manufacturing.

Although he initially wanted to pursue a higher certificate in fashion design, he opted for the part-time option due to work commitments. Following the completion of his course, Mhlongo intends to register for a higher certificate and, if time permits, obtain a degree in fashion design.

“I initially wanted to do a higher certificate which is over one year, but I realised I couldn’t because it is full-time and I have work.

“After completing my part-time course, I plan to register for a higher certificate. If time allows, I would like to have a degree in fashion design.”

Mhlongo admitted that he has always been involved in the design process of the clothing he wears, often recreating pieces himself. He expressed frustration when the vision he shares with designers does not translate into the desired outcome. Pursuing formal education in fashion design will enable him to have a greater creative influence and bring his unique ideas to life.

He added that he had a moment while designing something that he wore on Idols SA, sharing that most of the stuff he wears, he usually recreates with his own hands.

“I can only use my hands. I get frustrated when I give a designer a vision that I have, and it doesn’t come out the way I want it to.

“So, I always know exactly what I want, but I just don’t know how to do it.”

The media personality aspires to specialize in ready-to-wear and avant-garde fashion, aligning with his bold and unconventional personality. His passion for avant-garde stems from his preference for exclusive and distinctive fashion choices.

While Mhlongo currently relies on an illustrator to bring his designs to life, he aims to become more proficient in drawing and design. He acknowledged the influence of designers Anita Ferreira and Gert-Johan Coetzee, who have inspired him with their successful careers and ability to balance various aspects of life.

“Ferreira has inspired me because of how she juggles everything from being a mother, wife, and successful designer.

“Coetzee has inspired me on how to run the business and what he has achieved at his own pace and own lane.”

Mhlongo's decision to return to school highlights his belief in continuous self-improvement and his determination to explore new opportunities, regardless of age or previous educational experiences.

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