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How Loyiso Bala crooned his way from Drakensberg choirboy to the global arena

Happiness, if we dare to put a definition on it, is the ability to balance what you love with what you do for a living.

Happiness, if we dare to put a definition on it, is the ability to balance what you love with what you do for a living. If you can bring joy to other people in the process of doing what you love, so much the happier.
For Loyiso Bala, that simple formula finds expression in song, whether he’s belting out a Gospel ballad, smoothly crooning an R&B melody, or rapping over the beat on a Kwaito club hit. Loyiso has been giving voice to his natural talents since his teenage days, when he formed one third of the Bala Brothers, a vocal trio from Kwa Nobuhle in the Eastern Cape.
Along with Zwai and Phelo Bala, Loyiso grew up in a household where song and dance were part of the everyday routine, thanks in part to good genes — the Bala parents met while singing in a church choir. Loyiso was good enough to get accepted into the legendary Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School, where his voice echoed in the mountains and the classical choral training gave home a solid foundation for a dream career in show business.
Making his name as a member of the Kwaito superstar outfit, TKZee, Loyiso moved on to a solo career that has earned him multiple awards and catapulted him into the international spotlight, at venues such as Madison Square Gardens and Radio City Hall in New York, and Hyde Park in London.
With a growing fan base across multiple musical genres, Loyiso is proof that a golden voice can be a passport to the stars, as long as you have the relentless determination, self-belief, and stamina to keep on doing what you love. Loyiso took time off from his hectic schedule to share his thoughts on music, family, and change with Ruda.

Transcription of Ruda Talks Change with Loyiso Bala.

Ruda: Hello, and welcome to another session of the Change Exchange, where we talk about change. We talk about Change Moments. We talk about decisions. Decisions that you made; decisions that life made for you – how you dealt with it, how you settled into a new, a new way, a new road. Um… And it’s always fascinating. And today, my guest is Loyiso Bala, singer, TV host, producer, father. Um… And I’m really looking forward to this conversation. I loved getting to know you and your music a little bit, uh… when I was, when I was preparing, so welcome, and thank you for your time.

Loyiso: Thank you very much, Ruda.  Good to um… Finally meet you. I’ve been looking forward to this. But you know, somehow, um… Because of obviously, just a lot of things all happening at once. It’s actually crazy because some of us are kind of much busier during COVID, not making as much money as we used to but we’re much busier so, uh… So, I think even now you’re actually finding me in Cape Town about to fly out back home to Johannesburg to my wife, and uh… And my kids, yeah.

Ruda: So, your story starts, really, I want to say with your brother’s way, who was the first black boy ever at the Drakensberg Boys Choir, how did that happen?

Loyiso: It’s, it’s a very fascinating story, um… When we were young, we lost our father. Zwai, you know, Zwai, myself, my sister – I have a sister as well – who is older. Obviously, years later on when my mom remarried. And we’ve got a younger brother who’s Phelo. That’s why the three of us make up The Bala Brothers, but Um… Yeah, so, when we were very young, we were looked after by my cousin, Lwando Bantom. He was, um…  Lwando was 19 years old at the time, um… He was a petrol attendant.  And in 1987, he actually won an award as the best petrol attendant in the country, um… Because of that, because of that award, he was then able to walk into his boss’s office, you can imagine this is right, slap bang, you know, in 1987, in the apartheid times, but he really gained favour with his bosses. And through that he was able to, be able, he was able to convince them to get us scholarships to the Drakensberg Boys Choir. So, that’s how we got there, not so much because of our singing, but because somebody else believed in our singing and then used this service in order to get us in there.

Ruda: But it’s quite a big, a big jump to The Drakensberg Boys Choir. I mean, where did you? Why? Why that?

Loyiso: He actually came across, Um… Um… He came across a, an advert, you know, for a competition. I mean, Drakensberg has always been very, very well known, um… Especially, you know, this, the ‘80s and obviously, the ‘90s, um… It’s still a very well-known school now. Um… So, we came across some competition and they wanted… You know, they were looking for boys to enter there. Zwai went, that’s actually a very funny story, you should have a chat with him sometime, um… So, he put his entry in, with his, um… Because back then, you know, you had a cassette, you had to, you had to give in. And, um… And. So, he was accepted to come and compete, went to the, um… Went to Johannesburg with the help of Mr Miller, um… Who was, who was the headmaster at the school, we were going in Port Elizabeth, although we’re from Uitenhage, um… And, and, and when he got there, they were all surprised that he was actually black. So, we should call him … this is, I mean, like, so I joke that kind of happen after that was that he was young, gifted, but black, not young, gifted, and black. But there had to, you know, the boy had come that far, he had to enter the competition, and he actually won. But in order to win, you actually, you know, you are going to pay you, you then needed to pay your way through. So, you win a place in the school, through this competition. And, um… And so that’s when, you know, Lwando, went to his bosses, um… As I said earlier on, to get us more scholarships. And so, I think, you know, in my life, as much as obviously there was Lwando, who opened up opportunities. But, but, but… Zwai really paved the way for me, um… um… To, first of all, get into the Drakensberg, which was my education of music, and then number two, to get into the industry as well, through, through TKZee.

Ruda: What was it like? At that time? It’s a… You must have got to the school, what,  in about ‘80? Nope, ugh, 1990?

Loyiso:  Yeah, yeah. So, I got to the school in ‘90. Zwai had been there two years, for two years. He was, he started off in, like, in ‘88. And then two years later, I got in. I’ve got to tell you, it was absolutely tough, um…Just, um… Just to kind of get into that. I mean, it was a weird culture for me, something that I’d never known before, um… And obviously, you know, we came from an education system, that was, that was way different, far less advanced, um… You know, back in the in the ‘80s, there was the, uh…  All black people had had a Bantu education and then, and then everyone else had this like better education. So, um… So, as much as it was it was great that, that I was at the school where music was obviously the centre and the pinnacle of everything else, I struggled in every other way and the most socially than, than, than anything. And the one point that I actually didn’t know whether I was going to make it into the school, and they said to me, “Where your parents?”. And I was like, “I don’t really have parents that you can call right now”. And so, Lwando actually came all the way from, from, from Port Elizabeth, took a, you know, took transport and taxis, whatever it took, and it came to the school. And he spoke to me and said, “Bhuti, you know what, you just have to be strong, you just have to be strong, there’s no other way”. And I knew that I didn’t want to go back to the dusty streets of a Uitenhage. And then, I’d have, I’d have to do something. And so, through Lwando’s words, and through Zwai’s support, I mean, Zwai was tough love.  I mean, he was trying to do to fend his own battles, I have to just be strong, and just say, you know, what, um… I believe God has brought me into this place, and if He’s brought me here, He’s got to make sure that I, you know, He’s gonna take care of me. And so, it was amazing, because I remember Lwando shedding a tear, um… Six years later, when I was about to graduate. Because I literally started off at the bottom of the class. And now suddenly, during prize giving, where, um… I mean, the previous I’ve been chosen as the as the head of music, I was like getting nearly every, every second award, that’s what’s going out. So, um… I’ve done that so much for… I mean, obviously, it was hard work and I did play a part in that. But really, for just putting people in my path, who were able to support me, and they were able to see me for, um … for, for, for the person that I didn’t see in myself. And, you know, that speaks to the, the fact that you know, the more we tell people of their true identity, that they can, that the reason that they are in this world is because a specific purpose, the more, um… They’re going to believe in themselves and actually reach that purpose.

Ruda: And talking about change. I mean, that changed your life, uh… Beyond comprehension, almost.

Loyiso: Oh, absolutely! The lessons that I learnt at the Drakensberg. I mean, you know, some of the people I met, for instance, [inaudible], Ashley, Ashley Botha, who was our, our, our choir conductor. I used to be like, “Man, this guy is hard, man. This guy can be horrible sometimes”. But even in my adult life, you know, even just as a father, I find myself, um… um… Just becoming like him just so much more, because I’ve come to understand that the person that I am today, and the achievements that I am, my way of thinking was because of, um…  Of the fatherly guidance, I wanna say fatherly love, but the fatherly guidance that I got from people who stepped in because I didn’t have, um… Because I didn’t have a father. I mean, for instance, I travelled to over 16 countries overseas. Where would, let’s just say, a black boy, or any boy for that, you know, like, in that case, in the early ‘90s, be able to travel to so many countries? I got to live with all sorts of families, you know, like, being on tour the whole time, um… I got to learn the culture of Africa, without quite knowing, um… um… At the Apartheid background, so I got to know people for who they were, like, I knew, “Okay, cool. You know, this is a tannie, this is how you speak to a tannie if you want to get some rusks,” do you know what I mean? So, I got to really understand, and I guess because I got to understand people, it took the fear of the unknown away, um… From me. So, you know, those are life lessons that I kind of take through? Well, I guess like up until this day.

Ruda: Um… the Drakensberg School, only… You have to leave there by the end of what was then standard seven not so? Grade 9?

Loyiso: Yes! Yeah, yeah, which is grade 9.

Ruda:  And then where did you finish? Where did you finish your schooling?

Loyiso: So, um…  It’s, you know at the end of grade, at the end of grade nine, I had a few choices of schools to go, you know, who were all willing to offer me, to, to offer me scholarships, you know? It was, it was, and I’m gonna say… Sorry if anyone is watching live from the schools, but I would have either gone to the National School of Arts, to St Stithians College and… Or I think I could have even gone to like Pro Arte and even gone to you know, [inaudible] tried to, tried to get me to go to St Andrews and Bloemfontein. Because that, because that’s where he went. And, and, and I guess I could have had a choice of going to any school that I wanted, uh, you know, like with a full scholarship, um… Apart from the fact that Zwai,  went to the, went to St Stithians College, I chose St Stithians, because, you know, I’ve been in an art school, um… All my life. The reason I’m saying all my life is not because I was at Drakensberg for my entire primary, but because when I started thinking for myself, you know, when I started, my eyes started opening up, and that’s the only reference of a school that I actually really had. So, um… I didn’t want to end up as a sort of a total arty-farty, excuse me, you know, that’s the only word I can think of right now. And being this weird guy was just admired by artists, you know, um…. And so, I thought, you know what, first of all before I’m a singer, before I’m even, um… um… um… A performer, uh… I’m a songwriter, and I want to write songs that connected people’s, um… um… You know, situations.  And so, I thought that if I just went to, and it’s not a normal school, it’s very expensive, but let’s just, let’s just call it normal because it’s not necessarily an art school, but that like, if I go and I and I go to school and I begin to chill with, you know, like with the normal person, as we call them, you know, out there and have the experiences that the songs that I write will be able to connect to them and be relevant to the situations as well. So, that was the reason why I did that. But I went into St Stithians, and I was like, “Yoh! There’s obviously still academics, on top of that”, but we did it, three years of that, it was absolutely great. Loved it. And, and then the school actually kept me, not kept me back for another year. But, um… They asked if I would just stay for another year, just so that I could, you know, do some ad hoc teaching, there and there. And, and at that time, they were taking care of my Bachelor of Music through UNISA, which I didn’t finish, because then the industry bug bit me, you know, bit me really, really strong.

Ruda: So,how did, how did that happen? Did you start with TKZee then?

Loyiso: Yeah, so while I was at St Stithians, right. There was, um… TKZee became a very big group. First of all, my brother got a scholarship to go to, the Royal School of Music in Scotland, you know, one of the most revered schools and then three months later, he came back. We asked him, “Why aren’t you going back, man?”. I mean, he just, he said, “No, it’s too cold”. I’m like, “come on, like, what are you going to do here?” And then he said, “No, I’m gonna meet up with two of my guys. And we’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna try and do something within Kwaito.” I’m like, “Okay, you studied classical. And now you’re going to do Kwaito?”. You know, so they tried to do that thing, the first thing that they tried to do, it was an absolute flop. But then suddenly, with the second single, um… um… Which they did, I mean, this thing just, just blew up, like, you just won’t believe. I got the opportunity to chill with TKZee, and all that time, I was saying to myself, “No, I’m not going to the music industry, because I want to be like my, my old choirmaster, I want to go teach. I want to do choral music”. But at the same time, I was actually still writing. I mean, I started writing some R&B songs because I was a boy, who was falling in love. And as a songwriter, you write about your emotions. So, that’s what I did. And so, Zwai said to me, the one time he said, “Listen, we’re doing this concept album called TKZee Family. Why don’t you come and, and come sing some of your songs? And then we’ll do like maybe two or three songs where all of us are together. So, this is TKZee. And some family members and some friends, but we’re gonna call it TKZee Family”. So, we did that. And um… And so, it was time to promote it, and this was going to be one of TKZee’s um, um… Concerts, which they had at the stadium. And I remember going up there and my part’s about to come up, and the song just came out that week. So, people knew what the song was. But obviously, I didn’t quite know, because there was no social media, you know, to say, you’re great, and you’re absolutely lovely. I went onto the stage and I thought, I’m the only person who’s actually going to sing here apart from Zwai, who they know. And all these guys are rappers. So, I sat there expecting bottles and also to be thrown at me, because, you know, this was a ‘hood crowd, you know what I mean? And, and as I sang the first line of the song, you know, which was stopped, literally, the whole place just erupted, “Let me be your number one”. And I just sat there going, “They are singing my song”. This is like, what, like, 25 000 people singing my song. And here I am, I want to teach 12 boys in a class. And so that’s when it hit, I was like, “Yeah, okay, cool. That’s fine. I think I can like this, let’s try album.” And, um… and yeah, it must be.

Ruda: That must be one of the greatest highs to have, huh? And your audience is absolutely with you.

Loyiso: You know what I mean? It’s kind of like, it’s like getting your um… your, your, your exam results thinking that you failed, but actually looking at it, and you got 98%, um… That’s the kind of feeling. That was the kind of a feeling for me. So, I was like, “Wow, man. I mean, I can do this thing. This is really awesome”.

Ruda: So, then you, did you just stop studying and go into this full time?

Loyiso: Yeah, well, I mean, because the thing is, obviously with the studies, it was always working towards something. But I thought, “Okay, cool. Maybe that’s not the direction I want to go into. I could literally start my career right now”. But to let you know, after TKZee, so what I did was, um…  through, you know, my manager, my manager at the time, uSipho, Sipho Dlamini. He said, “Look, I’ve got some friends in the UK, um… They’ve just, you know, established this artist called Craig David, um… And I think, you know before we do your first album, why don’t you just go over there and chill for a few weeks? You work with these guys; you understand the sound and the feel of what R&B is.” And so, I went it, you know, just set these guys in studios because, at that time, there was no real R&B in South Africa, you know? Um, and so, and so I really just kind of got my learnings into that. So, before I even got into studio to understand the genre, and so we released that album and that album sold really, really well.

Ruda: Loyiso, but just. Um… I need to, I need to ask about this. Um… You were what? 22…23, that man from South Africa and suddenly are sitting here in London with, um… People from a completely different background from you. How did you experience that? How did you? Was it the school, the Drakensberg school that gave you, that “I can do this”?

Loyiso: No, no, absolutely, absolutely. But I mean, I must say, I’ve had to grow in confidence over the years. So, at the Drakensberg, I had no confidence going in. And I didn’t believe people when they say, “Wow, you sing so great”, because there were always just greater singers than me. But you know, music has a, has a funny way of kind of connecting people. So if I’m a musician, in a way, for me, it’s like, I’m just meeting a brother who went to school with me, because, because in languages, you get different types of languages, but in music, there’s only one language, do you know what I mean? So, I guess the Drakensberg, in a way, it prepared me for that. To be able to, to study people and to, and to connect people socially. But then also, if it was a musician, there were certain terms that we use, do you know what I mean? that are universal.

Ruda: It is like sharing a language?

Loyiso: Yeah, absolutely. So, so, so, music itself is like a language on its own. So, it was absolutely awesome, you know, just kind of sitting with those guys. But I’ve always tried my absolute best to never let this go to my head, um… Because things go through your head during the process. But to always say, the result still has to happen, and the result is going to speak for itself.

Ruda: Yeah, you’ve performed in a park in 2008, with 46664, and in Madison Square Garden and Radio City, how does one keep your feet on the ground?

Loyiso: You know, one, one person, one person once said that, you know, you just you’re as good as your last performance. Your next one is never guaranteed that it’s going to be as good as the last one, um…  I guess, you know, it being the Olympics this year, I can use this analogy, just because you won the last Olympics, you’re gonna have to work just as hard, um… to win again. As matter of fact, it’s probably harder to win again, than it is to win the first time because there’s not that drive of people going, “You can do this”. You know, sometimes the fact that you’ve never gotten there is not, it’s not as easy. So, you know, I’m always aware of that. And but I think more than that, I’m also aware of the fact that, that I’m, you know, I’m in charge of, of, of the input, but God at the end, but God has, but, but God is in control of the outcome. So, in other words, how people feel, I don’t take any, um… Any, any….

Ruda: Credit, um… You don’t take it for yourself.

Loyiso: Yes, I don’t take it for myself. And, and the thing is, as long as I know that I did my best, how people react should not determine whether I did it well or not. Do you know what I mean? So, so, I guess, you know, like, that’s what it is. And maybe it’s because I’m just not a billionaire yet, you know, I mean, something’s never gonna change. I’m working towards something and I’m very much aware that you know, and then I’m gonna have to do it again next week. And I’m gonna have to do it again next week. So, I’ll celebrate but the celebration is part of the journey, that nothing…

Ruda: Pavarotti said, apparently, that the worst thing that can happen is an audience who have all heard his latest CD”.

Loyiso: That’s so true. I can imagine why, because if you get your lyrics wrong, you know, they’ll know, they’ll know whether you performed according to it, you know.

Ruda: You sing R&B, you sing classical, you sing gospel – do you have a favourite?

Loyiso: I, you know, and people… When I started off in the industry, they, people tried to box to me, you know what I mean? And, and I couldn’t box myself because for me, you know, someone would ask me, “What’s your favourite type of music?” and you know, the answer would be:“Good music”. In other words, you can get bad R&B and you can get good R&B, you can get bad classical and you can get good classical so, so, to me, you know, just because you sing R&B, don’t think that I’m gonna like your music. It has to be good! In other words, like it has to be, it has to be of a certain, of a certain standard, you know, it has to be, has to have a certain age. How can I say like, you know, it’s got to be palpable in some way? Just because you got the stars and the moon, it doesn’t mean that you know, it’s going to be cool. And that’s because when I was at the Drakensberg, where we sang everything, I mean like we sang everything from Ladysmith Black Mambazo to The Beatles. You know, um… um… If you ask me what my favourite composers are, I’ll tell you number one, it’s [inaudible], number two is Freddie Mercury. Number three, it’s, um… You see what I mean? I mean, I’d go from James Bond to Freddie Mercury, but that’s because I see them all, these musicians and, and, and so yeah, yeah, so for me like when it comes …

Ruda: I’m so sorry. I have a terrible, terrible cold. So please, excuse me, the audio…

Loyiso: It’s all good.

Ruda: You worked with and then you later, you were the channel manager at Trinity Broadcasting Networks Africa channel – how did you experience that? Being, being a manager now? Being in the office?

Loyiso: I think. You know, business is only something that crept on me. And I guess in 20, in 2014, um… I really kind of felt, because now I was a, a board member at SAMRO, also at SAMPRA as well, which is the performance rights association. And, and I, my second a few committees, not only there but also like in other… You know, like, you know, I can other companies, um… The boomers, for instance, um… At that, at that time, and I just, you know, I’m someone who believes in preparation, not necessarily for others, because some people, somehow, they’re just born knowing, I don’t think I’m that guy, okay. And so, for me to do really well, I always prepare, and a lot of the times people don’t see the preparation, they just kind of see once again, just the outcome. For instance, it was 12 years of studying music, as much as I was musical, before I even released my first album, um… And then I took time, like I said earlier on, before I got into R&B, um… When Bala brothers were supposed to, was about to release the classical album, as much as we studied classical, we, we did workshops with a guy who came all the way from Italy, to give us voice lessons, you know. When I was trying to get into gospel, people did not know this, but I went to Bible school for a year. And because I believe that, you know, preparation, yes, you always get a drive because you’re talented. But the longevity depends on, on how well-prepared you are. And the impact is going to depend on that. So, what I…

Ruda: It gives you a kind of depth. It gives you depth, that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Loyiso: No, absolutely. You not only say that. I mean, I’ll just tell people this, they’re like, “But why do you study for that?”. I said no, because when I hit a wall, at least I’ve got, I’ve got a bag of tricks that I can just pull, you know. Just so that I can carry on. Because I’m not always inspired to do what I do, you know what I mean? So, I can’t just work off inspiration. I need some tools and certain things after a while when inspiration is gone for that little while, you know.

Ruda: So, that’s also your advice to young people, trying to get into or wanting to get into the industry?

Loyiso: No, absolutely. Listen, if you’re inspired, you’ll definitely get there. But it’s so important that you study your craft, that also, that actually also kind of shows an interest. I’m not saying to go to a formal institution, which is what I did, um… You know, even before getting into business, getting my, my, my post-grad diploma in management, just having finished my MBA last year, and obviously now with the whole sort of COVID and the digital, I took some time to do a programme at GIBS, a digital transformation programme. I’m not saying you should do that, obviously, I’ve been able to, you know what I mean. But you should always, but I know guys, for instance, who are the best creative directors and you know, this, when they learn this stuff through, through Google. They googled everything, and they spent their time just it, just you know, like just, learning the craft. I mean, I’m sorry to say this, but even YouTube is good. But keep away from Wikipedia. No, I didn’t say that. But yeah, so um, so yeah, so um, so like I said to you, I just felt this sort of urgent… [inaudible], was getting into, into business now. And, um… And so, I did the postgrad, postgrad diploma in management through Henley Business School, where I’m actually programmed, you know, like a programme director, one of the programme directors now, and, um… And also, and also then did my MBA, and it is during that time of preparation, that the opportunity came, do you know what I mean? [inaudible], it takes preparation, and this is an opportunity, right, but I think also positioning. So, I think I was positioned for that for obviously, you know, for it to open up that, um… That, that opportunity. And so, I served as Channel Director for, for, for TBN for, for two and a half years. And, um… Yeah.

Ruda: COVID hit you and Jennifer, your wife. She’s written about it, I think. It hit you hard, professionally. How did you, how did you work with it? How did you cope?

Loyiso: Let me tell you, once again. When we are not able, God always brings people, people through to help us through, you know. It, well, it hit us hard because, you know, as much as I was employed at TBN at, at the time, I still was able to supplement my income with, you know, with performances and stuff like that, you know. So, we’ve had to make some adjustments, which I believe that a lot of people have had to make in their lives, you know, like move from our, from our very big house that we had into a slightly smaller place. We’ve got two children, and so on and so forth. And then at least you know, make sure that we were pivoting. I know that’s a word that’s overused, but that, you know, we pivot our careers from being physical to online. So, I guess it really came at a time when none of us are ready or ever thought that it would come to it, um… And obviously, you know, we speak about it. So that’s because, you know, if you look at an Instagram, we’ve got this perfect picture for family, we’re always smiling. People be like, “These guys never have any hard times”. And I guess for us sharing it, it’s just the way, um… um… To show others as well that listen, the troubles that you are going through, we are also going through, and we had to make those changes so that by the time, that we’re at this point, in this COVID season, that we wouldn’t be far worse off than, than when we were in the beginning. And I must say, you know, God has been so good. I, I look back now, and I say, you know, because of the decisions that we made back then, and because we prayed about it, and we work towards it, that,  that, um… Yeah, I mean, like we had, we were at an okay place. I mean, you know, I’ve got some friends out there with me to change careers, you know, guys have the guts to go from being singers to, to teachers, you know, not even music teachers, but like, to all sorts of other types of teachers, geography and so on. And my heart is, is, is with those who, um… Who are who are solely focusing on the music, do you know what I mean? Because I know just how hard it is. And I don’t have an answer, but just to say, keep believing. And we are working through this together,

Ruda: What’s the secret of being able to accept change, to adapt to pivot, to find a new way?

Loyiso: So, I’m gonna tell you, um… So, I’m gonna to tell you what I learned, right? Just through my studies, um… at Henley. What I began to realise, is that my talent is not… My talent as a creative doesn’t necessarily mean creative in the arts, but that when you are a creative, you are, you are a creative problem-solver, and be able to use creative means to create something, do you know what I mean? So, I’ve, I’ve come to find that, um… Although I’m in corporate now, that I’m still using the same side of my brain to, to be creative. Like for instance, you know, like, you can be a news anchor, you don’t, I mean like you can be, um, um, um… You can be on radio and stuff. And so when you move into corporate, you actually find that you’re not actually, I’m, I’m good with communications that actually the core of the talent that I have, is not, is not a news presenter, but actually, I’m a communicator, do you know what I mean? So… So, um… I would, I would tell guys out there to go find exactly what is their root talent. In what you do, that is what you’re doing, but there’s a root gifting that you have. And take that and try and take it to another industry. And you’ll be amazed at how rare that, um… That talent, like that talent really, really is. So, when you see me, you need to know that I’m a creative, you bring me, you bring me any problem from any sector, and I’ll probably find a creative way around that for you.

Ruda: That’s a fantastic way to look at it. I have a son, who has a master’s degree in drama, and he’s a financial advisor. Because he can communicate, that’s what he does. So, tell me about… Tell me about Jennifer, how did you how did you meet? Did you immediately know she was the one?

Loyiso: Wow, you know, I met Jennifer, um… I was travelling actually around the time that I was doing the 46664. Um, um… I met her I met her in the UK. And I mean, obviously at that time I, I had a girlfriend, so I wasn’t looking at her, you know, sort of in that way. But, um… But over time, we really started to develop a friendship and um… And she became a person that… You know what’s so great about her was the fact that you know, Jen, Jen was born in, in, in Germany, to a Polish mother, and a Ghanaian father. So, as much as she was in South Africa for a bit of time, before, before she went to the UK, after having lived all over the world, um, she never really quite knew me. So, when I used to go to the UK and I used to speak to her and spend time together, I felt like it was one of the first times that someone just saw me for who I am, um…  So, if I was a nonsense and rubbish person, she’d say that, that is what I was, you know, but don’t try to be nice, because obviously…

Ruda: She wasn’t she wasn’t impressed with the public persona. She knows you, just as you were.

Loyiso: Yeah! So, I had to be myself, you know, like, she actually helped me to, to really find who I was, you know, like, who I, who I truly am. And I believe that you know, a success. The number one success is knowing who you are, you know. That that’s always the place to take off. And so, I think she really, you know, sort of speaking to and spending time with her, um… Got me to that point of realizing who I actually really am, what parts I need to improve. It’s still kind of happens today, but I don’t allow her to do that as much now, you know. And, um… And so, that’s what I got attracted to, to the fact that like, it really felt like an angel just fell, you know, from the sky. And we then started going out for about a year and a half. And I asked that she could move to South Africa, but by then I knew that you know, within a few months, if it’s all good, um, um… We’ll get engaged and hopefully get, um…  Hopefully, get married. So, that’s the story.

Ruda: And what, what makes it work? What, what is the connection? The realness?

Loyiso: Yeah, I think it’s the realness but, um… But also, the communication, um… The communication as well, you know, um… But also, me, Jennifer is amazingly talented, and so many facets, you know. And she even surprises herself sometimes, um… She’s got so much knowledge about everything, it was really the kind of person that I needed at the time when I didn’t know much, you know. She would proofread and, and teach me. I mean, like now, these days, I do the proofing. Not for her, but like, you know, for companies that I work in. Like, I do a lot of the writing and I know a lot about business, but she really was that anchor for me, for the person who just really kind of introduced me to the, to the real world,  do you know what I mean? And she doesn’t just do that for me, but she does it for many, many, like for, for many, many other people. [inaudible]

Ruda: It also sounds as if there’s a, there’s a bedrock of such respect, for each other, for who the other person is. Yeah.

Loyiso: No, no, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and, um… I mean, I would have known back then that she would be like a great mom. We have friends calling her all the time asking for, for, um… For advice, because Jennifer just somehow just knows a lot about everything, um… But I mean, more than that, um, um, um… You know, and she’s, she’s just so loving and, um… I just can’t see myself without, you know like, without her at all. Just such a great gift to me and the kids.

Ruda: Yes, you, you have two daughters. And I think a third baby on the way, right?

Loyiso: Yes, yes, absolutely.

Ruda: Do you remember the moment when you first, when you first held your baby?

Loyiso: Damn! I mean, you know what?  The first one, it’s, it’s sort of like… I mean, it’s so overwhelming. It’s absolutely overwhelming that I think for most guys, will remember that moment but won’t remember everything else much around it, because it was the, it was the, you know, it was, it was water breaking. It was, you know, the fact that you’re rushing to the to the hospital. It’s a bit like days, actually, I think I nearly got kicked out of the room. Because I think I was messing up more than actually helping. But, I’ll tell you this, you know, like when the second one was born, I said to myself, I said, “Lord, please, please, I want the same excitement as I did the first one”, you know, and, and that same overwhelming feeling, because obviously not the second one I’m like, but how can I love my second child as much, as much as I did my first? And so, I was there, I was pretending because you know, you’ve got to look like you’re really excited. Although my mind was maybe like one or two other places and I’m talking about other stuff to Jen, in the room. [inaudible]. And so, she had a C-section, you know. So, they are busy then cutting her up, whatever thing, epidural, all this stuff. And, um… And then they go, “Oh, there she is. Come on, come on” and they and they pull. And literally, like this child comes, I’m like in a totally different state of mind. And I’m like, “Okay, cool”. Ah! You know, um, but to see this child and once my…. Once I laid my eyes on her, it’s like, without knowing, it took me straight back to that term, to the time when I had when I had Kenzie. And I was literally just overwhelmed with tears. I was like, what, it’s exactly the same feeling. So, so yeah, definitely. I think that second was more memorable because it totally surprised me how I felt.

Ruda: Yeah, yeah. Loyiso, if I may, it’s very personal, but you have both spoken about it.  Jen had a miscarriage about a year ago. And you decided you, also as a man, decided to talk about that. Why? And how did you experience it?

Loyiso: Um, yeah. You know, the thing is, we had been, we had been wanting a third child. And, um… And so, Jen, obviously when Jen told me that she was gonna, you know, that she was pregnant, we both very much rejoiced. And we worked towards uh, you know, I was about to start doing all the preparations and it wasn’t probably quite close to… It was later in the first, uh… Trimester, went back to the doctor and we heard that you know, we’d lost the child and obviously, I mean, like, it was pretty painful because we’re gonna look in both at our ages. I’m, I’m 42 this year, Jen is 44 and two years ago, she was what just 42 and I was 40, my calculations are still there. And, and you know, so we kind of thought okay, well, you know, it was never meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. I must say she was very strong with it. Because I know a lot of women suffer and I think you don’t so much cry for yourself as you… As more than actually really crying for the baby. Do you know what I mean? Because, because, because, you know, like as believers that, that children, that these are children in the [inaudible]. Do you know what I mean? It’s not just the foetus, but it’s an actual child. You lost the child; do you know what I mean. You didn’t lose a foetus, but you lost the child, but that child lost its life as well, in the process. So, um… So, kind of going through that, you know, like that process, and I guess, like, you know, kind of grieving a part as well, um… Privately.  But we just, you know, we just trust that God, that’s not that he did it, but that all things you know, will work for the good, maybe there’s something that God knew that we didn’t know. And, and, and, and, and, and this child now that’s about to be born is, is a true miracle baby, I mean, they’ve all been miracle babies, and I’ll tell you why. Because it’s as if, like, God confirmed it by this, that this child is going to be born exactly a year later, to when the one that you lost was going to be born … exactly a year later, do you know what I mean? So, so, yeah, so double for your trouble, we say, you know. But I guess, I mean, I what’s always important is that it’s always good to grieve, but don’t ever let the grief pull you down with it. Because there’s always something else on the other side, it always works out for the good.

Ruda: Talk to me about the role of a father in daughter, in the lives of daughters, of girls, how do you see that?

Loyiso: Um… I mean, I think I think anyone that can have both parents, it’s an absolute gift. Do you know what I mean? Um… And maybe I’m talking more about myself, you know, now that obviously living in a… living in a different world and, and some people have played a really, really big role. Um… We believe that you know, it’s always… A village is always better than one person, uh…. Sometimes, whether necessarily be, be, be another parent, but always having a village, a bunch of people that really kind of raise you, um, um… Is always better than one, um… There’s actually a Cape Town song, you know, two is better than one, you know. It, it really says and I guess, you know, for me, um… Being a father means that I have an opportunity to, to, you know, to play a role in my children that, that I never had as a child. You know, my father passed away at a very young age. I’ve had people coming in and, and, and becoming father figures, um… But at the same time, you know, I had a heavenly father who, um… Who taught me what love is so, when I think love I always think “God”, do you know what I mean? I mean, I think father always been God because it’s my only reference to, you know, to a father so it’s quite a… You know, it’s quite a tall order, um, um… To follow. I want to be like God to these children, you know. Um, um… But, but, um… But for me, I mean, like, it’s been the greatest joy, um…  Just spending time with them. Just, you know, kind of downloading to them what it is that I’ve sort of learned over the years, but more than anything, I really believe that love has got to be at the centre of it all, you know. Love, love is gonna be the driver, even behind discipline, even behind doing the right things, you know. And, and that’s what it is, you know, I’m just another person to spread love to them.

Ruda: And let’s finish with some more practical stuff, um… Where are you living? What makes you choose the place where you want to be? Are you, do you look for space? Do you look for light? Do you look for specific things that the girls may enjoy? How do you choose the space where you want to be?

Loyiso: Well, at the moment, it’s probably be about two things. Number one, it has to have a play, playroom. You know, with three girls, well two girls, another one on the way, that’s pretty important. But, um… But I think, for me, like a light house. So, if you go to our… Not [inaudible]. But a house that that has a fresh feel about it. So, um…. So, so not too many things in the house. I mean, like we always go for the lighter colours. So, like your whites and your beige, you know, um, um, um… Sort of feel very much like, like yours, there, just behind you there, Ruda. And, and [inaudible] lights as well. You know, are sort of very important and I guess that’s because you know, I grew up a lot with my grandmother and she had too much stuff. You know, also my mother-in-law as well. You know. Jen would say that “Yeah, there was just so much stuff in the house”. And so, I think for me, not a lot of stuff, just very light and, and space as well, is always good.

Ruda: And what’s your … What’s your favourite way of spending time with your family? What does quality time look like?

Loyiso: Okay, this may not sound good as a parent, you know, but on the couch is usually really cool. On the couch and around the piano was intentional. We sit around the piano.

Ruda: Do they also sing?

Loyiso: Yes, they do, yeah. If anyone goes to my Instagram, you’ll actually see us singing as a family, on any of our Instagrams actually. And, um… And also, and also traveling. I mean, like, we love traveling. So, we wish we could travel more actually, you know.  Jen and I love, we love the the islands if you go on this, on there, [inaudible], you know.  That’s always like our thing. We’re on holiday, that’s probably where we gonna be. But yeah, so traveling and just being together away somewhere.

Ruda: Loyiso, thank you so much. And I do hope that we get out the other side of this horrible pandemic, so we can all start travelling again.

Loyiso: Yes!

Ruda: And you can go back to, to your performance and all that. But, thank you so much for spending time with us and all of the very, very best.

Loyiso: Thank you! Thank you very much, Ruda. Just for your time, yeah. I’m gonna get on a flight now, ‘cause I am flying out, yeah. So, I’ll see you guys.

Ruda: Well, back to the family, so that’s good.

Loyiso: Yeah, um… yeah, back to the family, before, before, um… before the curfew hits. So, cheers guys, thank you very much.

Ruda: And, thank you for watching, for listening. Until another time, goodbye.

Ruda Landman

Ruda Landman

Ruda Landman is known to many South Africans as one of the original co-anchors of Carte Blanche on M-Net, a role she fulfilled for 19 years and for which the University of Stellenbosch awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2011.

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