Penny Lebyane's homage to her "god-given" huge brother Bob Mabena – Impartial On-line

August 14, 2020

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From Penny Lebyne

When I moved to Soweto at the age of 13 to begin my education at Thaba Jabula Secondary School in Klipspruit, I discovered Radio Bop and Radio Metro at the same time. City Press and Sunday Times became my source of information and entertainment.

I attributed my love for the radio and print media to my father, who bought newspapers, and my mother, who loved magazines. I read newspapers and magazines, watched TV and listened to the radio. I was so good at general knowledge that I won an award on a TV show.

Then I made up my mind to be as good as anyone I'd read about and seen on TV. Bob Mabena and his then wife Zandile (Zan) Nzalo were my ultimate couple goal. When I met Zan and told her I was going to be a broadcast star just like her, she introduced me to Mabena. I went to Penny Heaven and some of my dreams came true at the age of 18.

Zandile Nzalo and Shado Twala were my benchmarks for being naughty and serious on the radio. With a touch of tich and bob, I should become the star I believed I was.

I sharpened my skills at The Voice of Soweto.

I remember bravely asking Zan to be my mentor, and she was committed.

At the time I had just come to M-Net to start Channel O. My days were occupied with Zandile's radio alter ego Zanex Zan. She was the "It Girl" and I was determined to follow suit. It didn't hurt that she was married to Bob. That's how I got a big sister and a big brother. Being around her meant I could shadow her.

I finally got to the big stage at Radio Metro and landed a TV show on SABC 1, both before my 22nd birthday.

Bob and Zan represented the race of high achievers, barely older than 20 years. Zan had hitchhiked from Eswatini to Mmabatho in the northwest. Bob, on the other hand, began his journey to fame with a bag of vinyl and toiletries from Atteridgeville to Mmabatho.

In my case, I was determined to take a cab from Soweto to fulfill my dream and nothing was going to stop me.

When my phone rang one Monday, I heard Zan say, "Penny, Bob is late." I knew I had to get up from Bob on the occasion of Zan's and Napadi's little sister.

Napadi is a girl who grows up among boys and somehow her masculine energy is a little stronger. I've been on duty ever since and I don't miss a beat because Bob, "The Jammer", won't let me. He was love and generosity in person.

Mel (Melanie Bala) and Bob are my studio mix family. Last year was all I wanted for her.

He did so much for me when he said to me during the xenophobic attacks, “Evil reigns when good people do nothing. You must go to the camp where the Zimbabwean displaced persons are located as you have direct understanding and your children's heritage is from that nation. Go so you can really count on the air. " I walked.

Uncle Bob, as I called him, is gone. He gave a lot of people a break. He didn't ask for anything back. He loved South Africa.

Writing this tribute is a first attempt at telling Mabena, The Jammer, “I am ready and have been practicing all along. Thanks for the dream so clear. The youth of South Africa are blessed to have you as a guardian angel. Your children are your blueprints because they have had the joy of seeing you do what you love every day. We were all lucky to have lived in your time. Goodbye my god-given big brother. "

Lebyane is a radio personality, television presenter, and activist.

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