In Uzalo, Qabanga (Siyabonga Shibe) is not happy not only that his wife, Gabisile (Baby Cele), has cheated on him, but because she has done so with his own flesh and blood, his son, Khehla (Thobani Nzunza). This is what Qabanga on the much-loved show Uzalo, is to content with, where the antics of his wife, Gabisile, and son, Khehla, have viewers looking up to each episode with keen interest.
Of course, as fans know, Gabisile didn’t know at first that Khehla was the child of her husband, however, she fell so hard for him that there was no turning back once she found out who he was, Actress Baby Cele (47) is much aware what it is like to play such a character who’s seeing a younger guy – she did the same as Katlego in Backstage a couple of years ago. But this one was more challenging for me as a mother because the young man who plays my love interest grew up before my eyes.
“He was friends with my nephew. I’ve known him since he was a baby. Now, years later, we had to do love scenes together and it quickly got awkward. In his eyes I was still ‘Aunty’ and to me he was still the little boy from years ago. We talked about the naked scenes and obviously there wasn’t going to be any tongue involved. I must commend him for being a gentleman and a professional,” she told Move magazine.
“After our initial conversation we worked great together. Nguwu mama kuye (I’m a mother to him), so I had to protect him as a young actor,” she added.
Gabisile is a strong and powerful woman and fans love that. They forgive her indiscretion, Baby said. The script is so well written. No one was expecting Qabanga to find out about the affair by hearing his wife praying. There were many times they could have been caught in the act, so this was a nice plot twist.
“This storyline is a reflection of real life,” she added. “Society accepts it much more easily when it’s a man involved with a younger woman. When it’s the other way around, it’s taboo. Baby’s life is much better than Gabisile’s. The actress takes any available opportunity she gets to visit her husband, Thabo Maloka, who stays in Joburg while she lives in Durban because of the show. The couple got married three years ago and in 2019 they hosted a glitzy umembeso ceremony.
“It’s not easy but we’ve gotten used to living apart,” she said. “Some days I can hear in his voice that he wishes we were together. I feel the same.” Thobani Nzuza (26) got the baptism of fire, being thrown into the deep end when he joined Uzalo and had to pursue a woman he’d known his whole life. I was so scared, but she made me feel calm and relaxed,’’ he said. “Things were hectic from the start because in the week I arrived on set Baby was planning her umembeso. She was gracious in guiding me. I felt like a virgin girl when we started doing those kissing scenes. She’s a good mama – she’d check if I was comfortable, which I appreciated.”
He’s thankful for being given the opportunity to shine. “When I was at Ubuhle Bomlazi Art Centre I never thought I’d go to university. When I was studying drama and production studies at Durban University of Technology, I didn’t know if I’d get a job. Some of my classmates don’t have jobs yet and here I am on a platform as big as Uzalo. I’m grateful,” he said. Thobani is not happy with Khehla’s actions. “Where are his agemates? He’s an embarrassment. This is a wakeup call to married people: take care of your loved ones’ needs because there’s always a boy like Khehla in the background.
“Even now that Khehla and Gabisile have found the truth they haven’t stopped because inhliziyo ayiphakelwa (the heart wants what the heart wants).
“I don’t know what I’d do if my son did that to me. I don’t think I’d be able to forgive my wife if she did something like that,” he said. The father should also think of his role in this family saga, he believes. If I were Qabanga I’d blame myself because maybe the boy would’ve turned out differently if his father had instilled certain values in him,” he added.
In real life, Thobani said, he’s ready for a relationship. “I’m single and I don’t have kids. Wherever my woman’s hiding, she must come out because I’m ready,” he said, laughing.
He urged viewers to look up to a lot more action from his character, maybe even a little violence, he added. Siyabonga Shibe (42) said he feels sorry for his character, Qabanga. He’s going through a tough time,” Siyabonga said.
“He’s conflicted because he wants to retaliate, but he’s also a pastor and believes everything that happens is God’s will. It’s sad that he heard his wife’s prayer, but you can’t blame him for lingering to hear what she was saying,” he added.
It’s also difficult for his character because he would love to have a good relationship with his son. “He missed out on a lot in his life and he found out about this affair just after he and his wife reconciled, so this is hard for him to deal with,” he said.
The actor said if it were happening to him in real life, he’d have walked away from his wife and forsaken the relationship with the son. I’d never forgive my wife. Yes, this happened while they were separated, but they didn’t stop once they found out the truth. I feel sorry for Qabanga because he’s doing his best, but I would’ve taken drastic actions. I don’t know what actions, but they would’ve been drastic,” he said.
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