From just being a young kid with dreams in Umlazi, Kwa-Zulu Natal, to growing up to become one of Mzansi’s stride takers in the entertainment industry, Siyabonga 'Siya B' Radebe has undoubtedly come a long way in his career.
Speaking to ZAlebs, Siyabonga Radebe took us to the beginning of his career, where he reflected on his experience of growing up in a township
“You always have to survive somehow, you have to deal with so much, you have to block so much, you have to find that thing in you that is strong enough to overcome the despair and you know for a fact that the only reason why you’re born in the township - it’s not a secret, I don’t need to feel bad about it - is because you’re black,” he said.
Radebe might be dabbling four different titles in his career and managed to solidify a name for himself in the entertainment industry, however, for a child who was raised in a township, like many others, his roots have followed him to the suburbs, and he expressed how he had to constantly deal with poverty even after moving away.
“The township is something that is always following me...my parents are in the township, the problems of the township are always my problem, I always have to lend a helping hand, which means that when I try and accumulate money and revenue, I have to work twice as hard from absolutely nothing. People may call it black tax because it’s easy to phrase it like that, I don’t like to call it 'black tax', let’s just call it poverty… constantly having to deal with poverty, and it’s not just my mom and dad, it’s so many people who I love. Yes, maybe I think I’m a hero for believing I can carry the pains of all these people, but the reality is, I know that I’m the first one to go to university at home...”
The actor went on to add that he felt that the past four years of his career had been fake as he was always emulating other people instead of staying true to himself and his upbringing.
“For the past four years, I’ve been so fake, and I’ve been fake because of doubt, of doubting the natural me. When you watch television today, and you’re in the township, and you’re watching all these people who are famous. When you listen to how they speak English, then you hear about their accomplishments, you feel like you can never be that, because you know that you’re not a person who speaks like that, you’re not a person who at least carries themselves like that…”
After having spent many years in the spotlight and gained a lot of experience in entertainment, Radebe said that he had shifted his focus to being authentic and true to himself and is now unbothered by those who reject him for him being himself in this cut-throat industry.
“I feel better when I’m just me, I feel better when I’m being rejected for being the Siyabonga that I know, that I am comfortable with, then being rejected for something that I am not. When people reject me for something that I’m not, it’s actually good, because they are rejecting the fake, accept me as I am.”
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Main image credit: instagram.com/@siyaradebe