SOLDIERING ON Ac­tress thrives in spite of

The Sunday Independent - - Front Page - SIPHELELE BUTHELEZI Isi­baya

WHILE grow­ing up, TV ac­tress, Nomzamo Mbatha lost her grand­mother and her fa­ther, peo­ple she loved dearly.

But at the time of their deaths, the 28-year-old me­dia per­son­al­ity did not re­ceive coun­selling be­cause she was not ex­posed to it.

But if los­ing her fa­ther, Skuta Nx­u­malo, and grand­mother, MaMjoli Nx­u­malo, was not tragic enough, Mbatha then lost her older sis­ter Matu Dlamini and her cousin Carla Pereira, who com­mit­ted sui­cide just as Nomzamo’s act­ing ca­reer was start­ing to blos­som with a lead role in on DSTV’s Mzansi Magic.

This week the KwaMashu-born ac­tress grad­u­ated with a bach­e­lor of com­merce de­gree in ac­count­ing.

Mbatha mo­ti­vated and left many peo­ple in­spired when dur­ing her grad­u­a­tion at the Univer­sity of Cape Town she wore a dress with the faces of those clos­est to her on it and the toll free num­ber for the South African De­pres­sion and Anx­i­ety Group (Sadag).

She said she too had suf­fered de­pres­sion be­fore seek­ing pro­fes­sional help.

That was why she had Jo­han­nes­burg-based de­signer Vanessa Gounden make the dress.

It also car­ries the words: re­silience, courage and over­come, a mes­sage to those suf­fer­ing with men­tal ill­ness, that they could over­come with re­silience, courage and by seek­ing pro­fes­sional help.

Mbatha said the ex­pe­ri­ences could have bro­ken her, but they made her stronger.

“I think black com­mu­ni­ties do not tackle post trau­matic dis­or­der and anx­i­ety,” she said.

“Af­ter los­ing a fam­ily mem­ber we just move on but the truth is, we suf­fer silently.

At the uni­ver­si­ties there are many stu­dents who suf­fer from de­pres­sion but do not seek help be­cause they don’t know where they can get help,” she said.

Mbatha sur­vived the pain of los­ing grand­mother, sis­ter and cousin.

“I am say­ing there are av­enues like Sadag, so let us use them and not suf­fer in si­lence.

“I have suf­fered from de­pres­sion as well, I have a sis­ter who took her life.

“It is time that we deal with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety, I am ask­ing ev­ery­one who suf­fers to seek help,” said Mbatha.

Sadag di­rec­tor Cassey Cham­bers said they were sur­prised by the ges­ture and had re­ceived an in­crease in the num­ber of calls from peo­ple seek­ing help since Wed­nes­day.

“We found out through so­cial me­dia, we were sur­prised and ap­pre­ci­ated her con­tri­bu­tion in rais­ing aware­ness.

“It was a cool ges­ture, you could see how much it meant to her.

“We are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an in­crease in call­sto our call cen­tre from peo­ple seek­ing help and also their loved ones.

“It re­ally showed how pow­er­ful Nomzamo is as an in­flu­encer,” said Cham­bers.

Mbatha said de­spite her busy sched­ule, which in­cludes act­ing, pre­sent­ing and be­ing an am­bas­sador for a Ger­man au­to­mo­tive com­pany, she had made time to at­tend classes and had to take time to study while on flights and in ho­tels around the world.

De­signer Gounden took three weeks to com­plete the dress, said Mbatha. Mean­while, Mbatha also hon­oured the late “mother of the na­tion”, Mama Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela. “She passed away just be­fore my grad­u­a­tion. I was for­ever hon­our­ing that woman be­cause of her con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try. My grand­mother named me Nomzamo af­ter her. “When I was born in 1990, she was lit­er­ally hold­ing the coun­try on her shoul­ders, she was an iconic fig­ure in South Africa,” said Mbatha. She was shocked by the loss of Mama Win­nie and re­vealed that she had made plans to spend time with Madik­izela-Man­dela’s grand­daugh­ter Zoleka in the past week­end, but this did not ma­te­ri­alise.“I was sad to hear of Mama Win­nie’s pass­ing be­cause I had sent a mes­sage to Zoleka that I was go­ing to see them on Sun­day, but un­for­tu­nately it didn’t hap­pen. When I walked onto that stage (at UCT), I re­mem­bered that the rea­son a black girl is able to walk that stage is be­cause of her,” said Mbatha, who raised her fists in the air in front of thou­sands of stu­dents and aca­demics.

SUR­VIVOR: Nomzamo Mbatha’s pain of los­ing dear ones one af­ter the other trig­gered her ac­tivist char­ac­ter. Ac­tress cel­e­brates her achieve­ment in a cam­paign

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