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‘What you put out is what comes back to you ‘ – Siyabonga Radebe on the lessons he’s learnt

2018-07-06 17:38
Siyabonga Radebe. (Photo: Siyabonga Radebe Instagr
Siyabonga Radebe. (Photo: Siyabonga Radebe Instagram)

He’s one of the most famous faces on the South African entertainment scene – an accomplished actor, comedian and T V show host with a few awards under his belt. But that isn’t enough for Siyabonga Radebe who’s just added another accomplishment to his impressive CV: he’s a singer now too.

The 35-year-old Ring of Lies star has just released a new single, Maye, from his upcoming album, Release Therapy – an isiZulu hip-hop-style album that’s all part of his personal growth, he tells us.

He realises he lost his way and turned his back on the teachings of his parents and the church he grew up in in Ntuzuma, KwaZulu-Natal. He and his ex-girlfriend, actress Lerato Mvelase, went through a nasty public break-up last year.

Lerato posted a picture on Instagram of a smiling baby spread out on a bed with the caption, “How I sleep knowing I’m single and no one is cheating on me.”

Siyabonga doesn’t want to elaborate on what went wrong but he’s ready to say sorry for his hand in the drama.

“I can’t change the past but I can rectify my mistakes so my children know that even though Daddy messed up, once he saw his mistakes, he apologised,” he says.

“I want to apologise to the mother of my children because for many years we’ve been in the media. At some point she took the kids and said she was ready to meet someone else. “I apologise for not being man enough to be worthy of her, to the point where she resorted to speaking to other people about me – just so she could say, ‘Stop, this man can’t do this’.”

Lerato (35) and Siyabonga have a daughter together and earlier this year she said she was  ready to find love again. Siyabonga admits he was “childish and foolish” and regrets his lack of understanding and empathy. He’s trying to atone through his actions and his music, he says.

When he was younger, his grandfather used to tell him to stand up and tell the church congregation when he was going through a tough time and ask for God’s help. Siyabonga says he doesn’t get a chance to go to church that often these days so he’s turning to music more as a place of healing.

“Some of the things I say in my music are a way of trying to deal with what I was going through – the pain and everything. “If I don’t apologise, then I’m not a man.”

Apologising isn’t something the character he plays in Ring of Lies readily does. Gazini Buthelezi is a villain and a scoundrel viewers love to hate. Siyabonga loves playing him though.

“Gazini is probably the most interesting character I’ve played because he’s a bad guy and I tend to judge him a lot,” he says. “I mean, he kills quite a lot of people and sometimes I ask myself, ‘But why, why did that person have to die?’”

 He admits it’s not always easy being the baddie.

“When you play a villain, it’s the loneliest place to be. Because whether you like it or not the way you interact with one another as actors is influenced by your roles. So if you play my sister, even behind the scenes, there is some sort of bond – but it’s different with a bad guy.”

Still, he adds, it “hones your skill as an artist”.

He gives his all to being the best bad guy he can be in the boxing-themed series, he adds.

“I work out and do as much as I can, hence the weight loss and the big Afro – which isn’t a big hit with the ladies! “But I want to play the guy in the most convincing way possible.”

Siyabonga, who recently started hosting 1Magic’s new dating show, Kheth’Omthandayo, believes he still has a lot to learn.

“Most actors, including myself, are very insecure people. We’re insecure about everything, so when the lights and camera come on we perform and try to deliver exactly what the people want.”

As if music, acting and trying to find love for lonely South Africans on a reality show aren’t enough, the two-time Safta-winning actor is planning on studying a few courses at the New York Film Academy in the Big Apple.

“It’s part of my future plan because I want to grow as an artist,” he says. “They have many different programmes and short courses there – you can do a music course, a writing or a producing course.

 “I mean, I know I have a gift – that’s why people know about me. I’ve been in the industry since my early 20s and I’ve had an amazing career. So now I’m just looking to learn more about the industry so I can better run my own business, my career and brand.”

He’s going to start with their four-week programme this year then come back to South Africa to save more money and “knock on some doors for help and hopefully return to study further.”

Siyabonga also hopes to travel the world to understand how people of different cultures interpret life. And he knows all this is going to help because he’s all about positivity right now.

“What you put out is what comes back to you,” he says. “If you put out negativity like I did, negativity justifies itself – it escalates the situation and nobody likes drama.”

Drama is what actually led to his album, he explains.

He had to have an outlet when his love life was splashed across various media outlets, so he turned to music.

“This is what my grandfather taught me, to make beautiful art and confess your pain at the same time,” he says. The album – which is about his experiences in life, love and fatherhood – was set for release in March, but he postponed it to give himself a bit more time to perfect his offering.

One of the songs he’s already released, Inkanyezi, is about his daughter and has a live music element to go with the thoughtful message of dedication.

He’s learnt quite a few lessons from living his life in the spotlight. He’s a little more cautious about what he says in public now and has learnt to deal with things a bit more sensitively.

“I’m grateful to God because I was able to see, of my own accord, that if I don’t calm down and realise my blessings I’m going to lose a lot of things and people who are very important to me.” And he’s learnt the hard way that that’s no fun at all.

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