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22 Questions with Ray Mahlaka

Business Maverick Journalist Ray Mahlaka answers 22 Questions

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Ray Mahlaka

Business Maverick journalist

I’m obsessed about colour coordinating everything in my home! I colour coordinate the clothes I wear every day, plates and cups in kitchen cabinets, and books on my shelves. The whites must be with whites. My anxiety levels peak if the whites are mixed with the blues.

Negotiating with five alarms and ignoring all of them. When I finally gather the strength to get up, I fry my brain cells by watching stupid videos on TikTok. This is unproductive but somehow gets me in work mode.

Anywhere in the Eastern Cape. The Eastern Cape is affordable, there are many tourism gems to explore and, above all, people in the province are friendly.

A New York Times obituary of André Leon Talley, the last great fashion editor. He recently passed away. André was iconic and a survivor. He was a victim of racial injustice in the 70s, when there were few black people in fashion.

The ability to live in the present moment. I stress about the future and things I cannot control. I’m already worrying about the year 2025.

Every cent spent during now-failed romantic relationships. If I was petty, I would send an invoice to former romantic partners for something I call an “inconvenient fee” to claw back wasted money. This fee would be for time wasted and broken promises.

Annalise Keating, a fictional character in the legal drama series How to Get Away with Murder. She is played by the brilliant Viola Davis. Annalise is a mess, a bad-ass lawyer, and a survivor. She’s book smart and street smart.

Any expense incurred from therapy sessions with my amazing clinical psychologist. An investment into my mental health over the past few years has been richly rewarding. More rewarding than retail therapy.

Former president Jacob Zuma. I’d love to understand his thought process for many of his stupid decisions and his rationale for selling South Africa to the Guptas for a song. If I get a rare opportunity to get into his head, I’d also tell him to pay his child maintenance. He’s too old to be hounded and dragged into court for outstanding child maintenance payments.

Michael Bolton. Even in his late 60s, the man is gorgeous and can still sing!

Adele’s new album called 30. Bring out some wine and tissues if you want to listen to the album.

I think every South African has met former president and icon Nelson Mandela. A lot of people have a Nelson Mandela story. I’ve never met him. And I’ll never get an opportunity to create my Nelson Mandela story.

My 94-year-old grandmother, Thelma. She’s mentally and physically healthy. She’s incredibly funny after she cracks open a bottle of Black Label beer.

My colleague Marianne Thamm. Her life story is layered and remarkable. She’s also funny as hell!

Bathong! It’s a South African word that can be used to express disbelief, horror and joy. South Africa has its many moments of joy, chaos, and shock. Bathong is appropriate for every occasion.

Pivot. My goodness, this word has been overused and abused since the Covid-19 pandemic started. “Pivoting” to working from home. “Pivoting” to a new normal. “Pivoting” to virtual video calls. Give the use of the word a rest.

It’s a bit dark. I fear my death being sudden and unexpected. I don’t want to be happy and healthy one day and die suddenly the next day without any warning or build-up to my death. I guess this is a reminder to live life in the moment, mend broken relationships, tell loved ones you love them, and have no regrets.

I would probably volunteer at a basic education level. I would adopt a disadvantaged school, especially in rural areas, and mobilise financial resources to fix it. I’d also use my acquired career skills to teach mathematics or English. We have a serious education crisis in South Africa. It will take effort from everyone to fix it.

Any anti-vaxxer, especially those who have dismissed the science behind Covid-19 vaccines. Can we send them off to a remote island, where they will live with the many variants/mutations of Covid-19 that are yet to be discovered?

If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what changes would you immediately implement to fix South Africa?