The Sunday News
Bongani Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
SIZWAKELE “Zwa” Ndlovu has been on Zimbabwe’s television screen for nearly two decades and the mother of one shared her experiences on the hit ZBC television show, Teen Scene that shot her to fame.
It was a journey that was filled with fun, finding her feet, her calling in the media world and that opened doors when the show was uprooted from Bulawayo and taken to Harare. Born on March 11, 1981 at Mpilo Central hospital, Zwa is the last born in a family of three. She has one older sister as the other one passed away.
The story behind her name is that, her birth came after a miracle, and her mother Silindile Ndlovu and late father Zaccheus Ndabambi Ndlovu, prayed for her, her name Sizwakele means we have been heard or answered.
Zwa learnt at Mpumelelo Primary School in Mpopoma where she grew up and then attended Dominican Convent Girls High in Bulawayo. She was heavily involved in drama and public speaking.
In 2000, Zwa, whose second name is Rosebud, joined Teen Scene that was produced by William Nyandoro after some auditions and she hit the road running so to speak and became one of the stars of the show.
Teen Scene had the likes of Otis “Tha Flow” Fraiser, Elizabeth Pursulk, Gaino Gumede, Nomalanga Sithole, Oslie Muringai, Gibson Ncube and Kevin Ncube presenting the trendy show.
Her sassy and sweet character endeared her to many who were avid followers of the show. Zwa said this added attention did not phase her after a couple of shows.
“When I started at Teen Scene that was the year I finished high school. So, the peer pressure, trying to balance school things didn’t affect me, because I was trying to find my feet in life, get a job and do the things that needed to happen. There was this new attention that I was getting. Like I couldn’t go out, go eat, go have a drink, without people coming up and saying hi,” said Zwa.
“It wasn’t overwhelming but, it was something that I wasn’t used to. Fortunately, I happened to be in a stable relationship and that shielded me from quite a few issues that could have possibly come my way. The whole older men and the like. I was in a very stable relationship that provided the security and safety for me to be able to be out and about.”
Zwa said her most memorable time on the show was when she interviewed South Africa’s Bongo Maffin, when they came to Zimbabwe for a show in Bulawayo.
“My most memorable was interviewing Bongo Maffin. They came through and we met all three of them and I was so excited. We had an interview and we got to attend the show afterwards,” said Zwa.
The most interesting part of being on Teen Scene was seeing how youths in Zimbabwe lived and interacted and uncovering raw talent.
“More than that it was being able to go places, interact with people and different kids. We would go to the eastern suburbs and western side of the city and interact with different types of people. Meeting up with Achuzi, Go Boys and Afrika Revenge. We would go for modelling shows and high school debates,” said Zwa.
Asked on why Teen Scene was so popular, Zwa said the show was relevant to the youths at the time.
“Teen Scene was so popular that it provided content that was very popular and relevant to the youths. If there were parties being held anywhere in the city, we were there. I think it was the beauty of seeing what was happening in your city. People would know what was happening around their city and know more about the city,” said Zwa.
Something that would have been good was if Teen Scene would have come up with segments that captured other parts of the country.”
Zwa said she was bitterly disappointed when Teen Scene was uprooted to Harare, marking its death.
“The worst thing to have happened was when they uprooted the show and took it to Harare. That was it. There wasn’t anything to replace it in Bulawayo, there was a huge gap for youth culture to be showcased from the city. I think it would have been great if Teen Scene was localised, where there is a Harare segment, Manicaland segment, Gweru Segment and so on.”
It seemed that Teen Scene became her stepping stone to the mainstream as she was quickly snapped up by the producers of Friday Night Live at Amakhosi, which for her was a blissful experience.
“I went on to be chosen to present Friday Live at Amakhosi. That was the most amazing experience. I went from pre-recorded youth TV to live on national television on prime time, that was one of the most viewed shows nationwide. For me that was a big deal and it put me on the map and there was no way I could ever leave after that,” said Zwa.
After this she has had various cameo roles on television especially on the tourism shows Travel Bound and Track and Travel, Music Mission, ZITF Highlights and even the National Art Merit Awards.
Even now, Zwa is still one of the go-to people to present shows or major ceremonies on television, such as The Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards most recently. In her personal life, Zwa was raising a daughter who is 16, turning 17.
All through the years of raising her daughter, Zwa gives credit to her mother Silindile, saying she would not have been where she is today without her love and support.
“My mother, uSilindile Ndlovu (nee Moyo) is my pillar of strength. She is my mama womthandazo. And as much as I pray to grow up to be (mostly) like her, I doubt I will achieve that. She raised me as a single parent as my father passed away when I was a toddler. She is tough, loving, forgiving, big-hearted and has always provided a physical and emotional sanctuary for my sisters and I and I eternally appreciate her for this,” said Zwa.
It was her mother who nagged her to complete her studies of which she did in 2019.
“I took a couple of decades finishing off my degree and my mum kept nagging me about it. The day I got my degree was one of the proudest of my life — it was all because of her. Shout out to you mum,” said Zwa.
The most interesting part of her life, Zwa says, is raising her daughter as she learns new lessons every day.
“Being a mother has been an interesting ride. My daughter is 16 and she is and always has been a spitfire, take no prisoners type of child. She’s taught me a lot about life – she speaks up for herself and she fights for herself and what she wants. We love hard, play hard and fight hard and therein lies the beauty of our relationship,” said Zwa.
As she prepares to turn 40 this year, Zwa said she would like to tell her younger self not to seek validation from people.
“I would tell a 19-year-old Zwa that, you are smarter and prettier and way more intelligent than you think. You don’t need validation from any person, so go out there and do you and you’ll be just fine.”
She is looking at imparting her knowledge to would be presenters and advices them to be themselves when they are on screen.
“People fall in love with you, your character, yourself. This is what I’m doing, this as I’m a Communication consultant, I do conduct public speaking coaching, online presence training and yes I still do TV and radio work, MC and voice over work,” said Zwa.