I’ve been a bread­win­ner since I was 18 years old

CityPress - - News - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

Busi­ness­woman and for­mer Gen­er­a­tions ac­tress So­phie Ndaba says she has been pay­ing black tax from the age of 18, when – un­like other care­free teenagers – she was forced to be­come a bread­win­ner at home.

At that ten­der age, Ndaba was tak­ing care of her daugh­ter, grand­mother, mother, fa­ther and sis­ter’s daugh­ter.

“I had three jobs. I was an ac­tress, a model and work­ing in a cast­ing agency be­cause I wanted to pro­vide for my fam­ily,” she says. At some point, she even sold clothes to make ends meet.

Pay­ing black tax has be­come sec­ond na­ture to Ndaba, who says tak­ing care of ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers is part of her iden­tity. “It was never a bur­den, be­cause I started from an early age,” she says.

Twenty years ago, when Ndaba de­cided to go out and look for work, her fam­ily was sur­viv­ing on her mother’s pal­try old age grant of R155 per month, far from enough to pro­vide for all of them.

She had no choice but to go and find some­thing that could aug­ment that in­come. “It wasn’t easy at all. It was a fi­nan­cial strain,” she says.

From the three jobs she even­tu­ally found, she would make at least R5 000 a month.

“But that money was not only for me. I had to buy my daugh­ter’s nap­pies, gro­ceries, elec­tric­ity and take my young sis­ter’s daugh­ter to school,” she re­calls. She says be­ing a teenage mother made her work twice as hard to en­sure her daugh­ter was also well taken care of.

At that time, her peers would go out shop­ping and clubbing, and go on hol­i­days.

“I couldn’t af­ford the lux­ury lifestyle. I couldn’t even af­ford to buy my­self make-up or lip­stick. A hol­i­day was the last thing on my mind.”

Though at the time there was a slight chance of her af­ford­ing a short hol­i­day to Dur­ban, she says her pri­or­ity was al­ways her fam­ily.

“My dream was that when I started work­ing I would buy my mother a fridge and fill it with lots of food. And that’s what I did with my first salary.”

Be­fore Ndaba bought her first car, she bought her mother new fur­ni­ture.

Though Ndaba is a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­woman and now com­fort­able fi­nan­cially, she doesn’t for­get where she comes from and is still tak­ing care of her fam­ily.

Her grand­mother and mother have died but she is still look­ing af­ter her 84-year-old fa­ther, who has a heart dis­ease and has been on dial­y­sis treat­ment for years.

“I’m pay­ing for his med­i­cal bills, tak­ing care of the house, buy­ing him gro­ceries and clothes,” she says.

“As long as I’m alive, I will take care of my fam­ily.”

Ayabonga Cawe

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