A deadly diagnosis
Pastor Mdletshe has been too busy caring for his flock to take care of his body.
When Pastor Mdletshe (Glen Gabela) started feeling shaky on Tuesday 4 December, who could have expected this skinny whippet of a man to walk out of the doctor’s office on Wednesday 5 December with a diabetes diagnosis! But you don’t need to tip the scale to get diabetes. On Tuesday 13 November,
Mkhonto (Bonga Dlamini) tauntingly warned Nkunzi, “A man shouldn’t stress so much over work. You’ll get diabetes. It’s very bad!” He has a point – and between the church board and his family’s issues, the pastor has been wearing himself thin lately. Literally.
With unexplained weight-loss being one of the possible warning signs of diabetes, behind the scenes the actor worked on making his character look ill long before these scenes were shot. “I did a bit of research into the signs of this ailment that affects him,” says Glen. “I deliberately tried to put myself in that situation to go out and look sickly. And I would starve myself and I lost a bit of weight and it reflected. They called me from Joburg and said, “Even my friends are complaining. Have you lost weight? Are you ill?”
Glen was prepared to suffer for his art to encourage Uzalo’s viewers to take better care of their bodies. “Hopefully it will open viewers’ eyes. Few men even bother to go for regular checkups until it’s too late. I don’t know when last I went to see a doctor myself. And diabetes is like cancer – it’s a silent killer. You never recognise the signs. You feel tired, but maybe you think, ‘I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.’ I am hoping that it’s a wake-up call to all of us to be more concerned about our health and do regular check-ups,” he explains.
After his diagnosis, the pastor is prepared to dig himself an early grave. “If it’s God’s will for me for this ailment to take me from this Earth, so be it,” reveals Glen. But his sister Gabisile (Baby Cele) isn’t having it. “She gets on his nerves! She has a son who is a medical practitioner and she consults with him without Mdletshe’s approval,” says Glen. “It causes conflict within the family because she insists that even if she has to take care of him like a child, she will do it without hesitation. It brings out the stubbornness in him. Male ego,” Glen admits ruefully.
Pastor Mdletshe’s Diabetes diagnosis could be a death sentence if he doesn’t take care of himself.