Pupils proud of Idols win­ner

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER and NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA news@city­press.co.za

There was the oc­ca­sional gig­gle that broke loose in the silent hall of the Mar­itzburg Chris­tian School when the school choir took to the stage to per­form at the year’s clos­ing assem­bly on Fri­day morn­ing. Th­ese as­pi­rant cho­ris­ters had ev­ery rea­son to be ex­cited. Not only were the Christ­mas hol­i­days min­utes away, but their choir teacher, No­ma­lun­gelo “Noma” Khu­malo, had just won Idols SA – with more than a lit­tle help from them, her choir. Her col­leagues have de­scribed Khu­malo – who in her ma­tric year won the same school’s Chris­tian Char­ac­ter Award, for her “dili­gence in her faith, moral excellence, self-con­trol, per­se­ver­ance and god­li­ness” – as a very car­ing and com­pas­sion­ate per­son. (Yes, she teaches at the same school where she ma­tric­u­lated.) Khu­malo may be a woman of few words, but she is far from a stranger to the spot­light. While still at school she trav­elled to Bri­tain with the pres­ti­gious Pietermaritzburg and Mid­lands Youth Choir, com­ing sec­ond in an in­ter­na­tional eisteddfod. She is the first woman to win Idols in seven years. The com­pe­ti­tion is now in its 12th sea­son. And to­day, on the year’s clos­ing day, Khu­malo is not in the school hall to watch her pro­tégés per­form. The 22-year-old, who teaches isiZulu and art, is in Jo­han­nes­burg for a record­ing con­tract with Gallo Records, which she won, along with a cool R1.2 mil­lion in prizes, for shad­ing out fel­low KwaZulu-Natal en­trant Thami Shobede in the fi­nal. The choir that Khu­malo trains launches into its rou­tine, in her ab­sence led by Grade 9 pupil Andiswa Sa­bela. The cho­ris­ters work their way into a tears-in-the-eyes ren­di­tion of Johnny Clegg’s Asim­bo­nanga, and then wrap up on a lighter note. With assem­bly done, choir mem­bers Tameqa Petersen (11) and her Grade 5 col­league Zama Zungu head home with their re­ports in hand. The two take pride in be­ing among the group of pupils at the school who “pushed” Khu­malo to en­ter Idols, and say they kept en­cour­ag­ing every­one they could to vote for their teacher dur­ing the gru­elling Idols heats. The heats saw 83 mil­lion votes cast for con­tes­tants this sea­son.

“Miss [Khu­malo] asked us if she should en­ter again, and we said yes!” said Tameqa.

“We told her she must en­ter again and that we would vote for her so that she could win.”

Con­vinced that she would win, Tameqa and her fam­ily had trav­elled with Zama and other class­mates to watch Khu­malo dur­ing the last heats. “We went to Jo­han­nes­burg to sup­port her,” said Zama. “It was very ex­cit­ing. We are very proud of our teacher.”

Khu­malo’s 13-year-old brother Menzi, who is a Grade 7 pupil, also at Mar­itzburg Chris­tian School, is still dumb­founded by his sis­ter’s sud­den fame. He says he and his three sib­lings made reg­u­lar trips to Jo­han­nes­burg with their par­ents to cheer her on.

“I’m very proud of my sis­ter ... We went to Jo­han­nes­burg al­most ev­ery week­end to sup­port her. It was so ex­cit­ing.”

Khu­malo’s fa­ther, a mag­is­trate, and her mother, a nurse, were also in the au­di­ence last Sun­day sup­port­ing their daugh­ter’s sec­ond at­tempt to take the Idols crown. (She had lost out in 2013.)

How­ever, the par­ents were not ready for all the at­ten­tion that comes with a win. They found them­selves over­whelmed by a flood of me­dia re­quests for in­ter­views and neigh­bours’ vis­its to con­grat­u­late them on their daugh­ter’s suc­cess. As a re­sult, they have spent the past week “try­ing to run away from the news­pa­per peo­ple” ac­cord­ing to lit­tle brother Menzi.

“Yoh! The phones don’t stop ring­ing. They are call­ing my mum and dad minute by minute,” Menzi en­thused.

Khu­malo’s friend and fel­low stu­dent teacher, Char­l­ize Greyling, was as ex­cited as her pupils at the win: “The whole school has been be­hind her [Khu­malo] ev­ery step of the way. We did as much mar­ket­ing as we could.”

“Ev­ery week we would show the footage from the heats, and also put pic­tures from the week­end’s Idols on the school web­site, and en­cour­age ev­ery­body to vote,” said Greyling.

“In the early part of Idols she would per­form at the week­end and be at school again on Mon­day. Noma is so 100% le­git,” she added.

Dur­ing the lat­ter part of the con­test, a locum teacher had to stand in for Khu­malo (who is also com­plet­ing her teach­ing stud­ies through Unisa) to en­able her to fo­cus on Idols.

In her ma­tric year­book Khu­malo wrote: “I have a dream of singing in Idols ... It al­most sounds im­pos­si­ble to win.”

Some dreams, it seems, do come true.

PHOTO: M-NET

HIT­TING THE HIGH NOTES Idols win­ner No­ma­lun­gelo ‘Noma’ Khu­malo

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