Idols judge, chore­og­ra­pher and TV per­son­al­ity Somizi Mh­longo launched his book, last week, aimed at in­spir­ing black chil­dren to dream big

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Ex­tract from chap­ter: “The down­fall of Somizi Mh­longo”.

THIS was around the time I was found guilty of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing that man, which to this day I still in­sist I wasn’t guilty of; the law went in its own favour, not mine.

Work stopped com­ing in, no one wanted to touch me. I started los­ing friends I thought were friends for life. Money stopped com­ing in. At this point I was not in a re­la­tion­ship.

I lived in Lone­hill, a house I bought with Tom, and when we broke up Tom moved out and I had to carry on with bond re­pay­ments. Then I didn’t have work, no gigs, no in­come, I started strug­gling. I strug­gled so much that I be­came de­pressed and I de­cided to take an­tide­pres­sants, but I took them for one day and I didn’t like the af­ter-ef­fects.

They made me feel like ev­ery­thing was okay when in re­al­ity it wasn’t. I be­lieved that I had to face my prob­lems head-on. I stopped drink­ing and hav­ing ca­sual sex. I just told my­self: “Somizi, face it head-on”. It was tough. At the be­gin­ning of 2009 I needed some spir­i­tual guid­ance and up­lift­ment. The only way was prayer. I started go­ing to Rhema Church, where I met Ka­belo Ma­bal­ane, who was with kwaito group TKZee.

He was a re­cov­er­ing drug ad­dict and now pious, train­ing to be a pas­tor. I asked him to be my spir­i­tual guide, and he helped me. I didn’t even say much to him, but he was the one per­son I looked up to, think­ing if he could get over what he was go­ing through and be suc­cess­ful, so can I. In 2009 things were still tough.

I was driv­ing the big Dis­cov­ery and I couldn’t af­ford it. I was late with pay­ments, my bond was in ar­rears, the banks were call­ing left, right and cen­tre. I didn’t have a cent to my name. I could have eas­ily gone back to my mother and stayed at home, but I was like, “No Somizi, sol­dier on, sol­dier on”, so I sol­diered on.

It was dif­fi­cult to a point that I cried ev­ery day. At night I felt bet­ter that the day was over and I hoped for a bet­ter day to­mor­row. But when I woke up and re­alised that I was still in that space, I’d cry all over again.

I started os­tracis­ing my­self. I had a BMW Z4, which was also in ar­rears and the bank had called so many times they couldn’t take it any­more and the next thing, a knock on my door, they’d come to re­pos­sess the car. I took ev­ery­thing out of the car, they took it and left. There was a lady I knew for a while called Zuki Vele­bayi, they called her VB, she lived not too far from my house and we got closer and closer be­cause we went through sim­i­lar prob­lems fi­nan­cially.

This was the one per­son I could share all my prob­lems with and she con­soled me. She was a ray of hope, through her words she en­cour­aged me: “Mt­shana, kuza ku­lunga, hang in there”. She was that one friend, I could go and eat at her house and she’d come and cook for me or we’d find ways to hus­tle and make some lit­tle money here and there.

It got to a point where we both de­cided to go to China Town and buy stuff for R300 and sell it at the MTN call cen­tre. Cheap stuff, cloth­ing, any­thing we could sell to make a profit, and that’s how we sur­vived. This strug­gle brought us closer. There was a time I’d wake up and search for coins all over the house.

One day I found R11. How­ever, driv­ing to the garage was more ex­pen­sive with my big car. I didn’t have petrol, so I walked. I went to Pick n Pay and bought chicken giz­zards, they were R9, and I bought one tomato and walked back home. Thank good­ness I could cook. I made pap, chicken giz­zards and gravy.

And I was happy I would keep it in the fridge and heat it up to last me for three days. Still no work, noth­ing was hap­pen­ing, I would do odd jobs here and there and be paid R1 500 and that would be fine. I still didn’t tell my mother that I didn’t have work.

As a bread­win­ner, I’m thank­ful that my fam­ily knew I was strug­gling and they didn’t bother me, with­out me even telling them. I got a job as a judge on a dance con­test show called Dance Your Butt Off. I got paid R5 000 per episode over 13 episodes.

It was less tax, and what­ever I got from that I would pay or try to re­pay what I owed. I tried to use a frac­tion to pay my bond and what’s left would go to­wards the in­stal­ment on my Dis­cov­ery. It was ba­si­cally a hand-to-mouth sit­u­a­tion. This went on and on un­til one day I de­cided to go out.

I met a boy I knew and we went out and had a great time. We came back home, and in the morn­ing I woke up and the car wasn’t there. So this boy lit­er­ally drugged me, noth­ing hap­pened be­tween me and him but he took my car.

I kept hope alive and was grate­ful he could have killed me, but in­stead only took the car. We searched for it and it was nowhere to be found. Now there I was, pay­ing for a car that I didn’t have any­more. Guess who came to the res­cue and lent me his car? Tom. The same Tom who is an ex, still in the pic­ture, he’s there for me when no one else was there.

I used Tom’s car for a while as he had to go over­seas on hol­i­day. I had to make a plan and hire a car when he re­turned. Stupid me, what car did I hire? A Range Rover, just to “keep up with the Mot­sepes”.

Now I was pay­ing R14 000 a month for a car that doesn’t even be­long to me. I drove that car. I was look­ing good, but things were not pick­ing up. And then the tax­man hit me. He told me I owed R3.4 mil­lion. I went to the Sars of­fices and they nailed me. I sobbed in front of them. I was crying buck­et­loads.

They were go­ing to take my car. I told them the car was not mine. They forced me to sell my house. I tried to stall that and find ways of get­ting out of the mess with­out shed­ding my house. It was tough. I went back home mis­er­able. Dance Your Butt Off was over, still no work was com­ing in. No one wanted me.

It was to­wards June. I got a call to come in and do the chore­og­ra­phy for the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup, be­cause the World Cup was com­ing to South Africa. I had to prove to my­self that I still had it. There was no money, I think I got paid about R40 000, and that was not enough, given the prob­lems I was fac­ing.

With the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup in the bag, I had to also prove that I was qual­i­fied to be in­volved in an event as big as the World Cup. If I did a good job, I would be called in to do the World Cup. The Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup in June was a success, yet no one said any­thing about it.

Back to July/Au­gust noth­ing was hap­pen­ing. Then I got a call from Lira. She wanted me to chore­o­graph her first live DVD at Car­ni­val City. I didn’t have that much money, and she paid me a rea­son­able amount, enough for what I did, and that was an Aha! mo­ment for me, when I re­alised that God was say­ing to me: “If you don’t be­lieve that I’m here for you through this child Lira, then noth­ing will make you be­lieve”.

When I saw what Lira did dur­ing that sold-out show, a one-woman show, peo­ple singing along and she was giv­ing it to them, I saw the light and that was my turn­ing point. I knew then that God is alive. I was go­ing to be pa­tient with God. I was go­ing to be pa­tient with my­self. If God can do this to me with Lira then my time was com­ing. I’m thank­ful to Lira for that day, I tell her ev­ery day and when­ever I get a chance to say thank you for that night.

Thank you for hir­ing me, no amount of money can pay me enough to sur­pass what you’ve done for me when I was at the low­est point in my life. And that was my break­through. Af­ter that show, my life has never been the same.

News­pa­pers were say­ing Somizi is down and out, peo­ple were say­ing Somizi is down and out, ev­ery­body was say­ing Somizi was down and out, but there were a few peo­ple who be­lieved in me, in­clud­ing my mother, my daugh­ter, my fam­ily; some friends be­lieved that Somizi was not down and out, he’s a fighter. And I fought un­til the World Cup.

I saw the light ... I knew then that God is alive ...

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