If you want to succeed, you must have confidence and believe in yourself. This was among the nuggets of advice that TV personality and radio host, Masechaba Ndlovu, shared with attendees at the Heavy Chef event in Khayelitsha at the weekend. Heavy Chef organises events that “create learning experiences for entrepreneurs”.
“What holds us back is a lack of confidence,” said Masechaba Ndlovu to a room filled with young black professionals and entrepreneurs. She named Sbu Leope, co-founder of the first 100% black-owned energy drink brand, MoFaya, as a sterling example of what confidence can do for a young black person.
“Sbu Leope is a previous speaker on this platform, can we not all agree that he is successful because of his confidence,” she said.
Leope started his business after having had a successful career as a South African entertainer.
“He believes in himself, and we need to stay believing in ourselves because you will have doors shut in your face. You will have people say ‘what makes you think this concept is going to work?’”
Born in Zambia in 1983, Masechaba Ndlovu is a household name in South Africa having hosted shows like The Big Debate and more recently being co-hosting the popular Metro FM afternoon show The Drive with MoFlava.
Addressing the gathering, Ndlovu said she was not there to preach but for a conversation. Responding to a query about her journey as a black woman in the radio industry, Ndlovu said:
“As a person of colour, as a black woman, it is so hard to make it in Cape Town. I have worked graveyard shifts for seven years, I got my opportunity for prime time in my eighth year. It was hard, but I am not going to leave Cape Town to make a name for myself in Joburg, because of umsebenzi uqala ekhaya (translated as ‘making a difference begins at home’).
“I don’t take no for an answer. People do not know how difficult it has been for me, purely because I have never spoken about it. I have never spoken about the level of patriarchy within broadcast media. I have never spoken about the pain I have felt being overlooked because I was not having sex with men for jobs.”
But she said she stayed the course because she did not want false success.
“There is no better pillow than a clean conscience when you know you got here due to your own merit,” she said.
Akhona Shinga, an artist and an entrepreneur who works as an administrator at the Khayelitsha shack theatre and who admitted that her work sometimes overwhelmed her, sought advice from Ndlovu about how to take care of yourself without looking like a failure or making a bad impression. Ndlovu suggested that Shinga keep a strict diary and make time to relax.
She urged the the crowd to remember that “busyness is not necessarily business”.
Ndlovu says she used to be busy, “today you will look at me and think I am not doing anything. I work from home (when not on radio, on a shoot or interview), I don’t take calls. Make it work for you so that you have fun with it, don’t try and prove anything to anyone.”
Performing artist Asanda Rilityana asked Ndlovu to impart advice on how to present herself as a business.
“The first thing for me was to change my mindset, and stopped looking at myself as just an artist or producer but to view myself as a brand and a product.”
Ndlovu said she created a logo of her name and then registered a company, Masechaba Media, that “became the custodian for my brand”.
Ndlovu said it was important to empower at least one person to handle your administration.
“Let’s be real, we are creators, not administrators, I take three days to respond to emails, that is not professional.”
In a short interview with Daily Maverick, Ndlovu said the internet was important when creating your own brand and for maintaining independence. This means that you are able to create content that you care about rather than just what you are assigned.
“I think that it is important that we remain independent. I love to reference online platforms because that is the only space where you own your own product, where you own your own narrative.”
She said while it was important to grow your internet presence you need to remain true to your cause.
“There are a number of ways you can do this. Once you have gotten started, whether you have 100 people or 200 people following you, the most important thing is that you have an authentic market,” she said.
Ndlovu herself has 200,000 Instagram followers.
Ndlovu says people starting out using the internet and social media as a platform should be concerned with quality over quantity.
“How you attract a solid audience is by identifying individuals whom you would like to align with. Tag me or someone who you think will be aligned with your work. You could get a retweet and you never know who my retweet might reach.” DM