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Sophie Ndaba opens up about Zimbabwean roots

by Staff reporter
22 May 2024 at 09:50hrs | Views
Popular South African actress Sophie Ndaba was in Bulawayo this past weekend where she graced the Esteemed Business Women conference held at Lavinia Gardens.

The event, which attracted top officials including ministers, was organised by businesswoman, Sipho Mazibuko.

During a breakfast meeting held at Haefelis on Friday, Sophie who celebrated her 50th birthday in June last year, shared her remarkable life story, which began with her upbringing in Bulawayo.

Upon her arrival at Joshua Mqabuko airport on Thursday afternoon, Sophie expressed her joy at returning home, stating, "I'm happy to be in Bulawayo; remember, this is my home. My grandfather was born here, my mother was brought up here, and I was brought up here, so I will always come back home."

She revealed that she spent a significant part of her childhood in the city. Her narrative delved into her challenging childhood experiences, including living in an orphanage and facing difficult situations within her foster families.

"Following my grandfather's passing in Harare, my mother, who had a daughter living in Harare, sought to provide me with a better future. At the age of eight, she decided to relocate us to Harare (from South Africa), where she believed opportunities awaited.

"I was excited and readily agreed, especially since my mother had promised that I would attend a boarding school there. However, upon arriving at my sister's farm in Harare, I was disappointed to learn that I would not be attending boarding school as expected. Instead, I began learning to milk cows and spoke the Shona language. 'Mangwanani' was one of the first phrases I learned, along with 'tiripo' and 'makadini wo?'," she recalled.

She bravely revealed her harrowing experience at her sister's farm.

"One day, while I was at my sister's house, her husband said good night and put his tongue in my mouth. Immediately, I knew this was wrong, but I felt compelled to keep it a secret, as my grandmother had taught me that as a lady, there are things that are best kept private.

"Feeling troubled, I wrote a letter to my mother, asking her to come and fetch me. When she arrived, I attributed my distress to the cows. I chose not to divulge the real story, as I didn't want to jeopardise my sister's marriage, leaving everything to God," she recounted.

Sophie said she then insisted on being taken to the boarding school as promised. However, her sister suggested that she be taken to an orphanage instead.

"I was then taken to an orphanage, unaware at the time that it was not a boarding school. It was only later that I discovered everyone there was without parents, whereas my own mother was alive. It was during my time at the orphanage that I began acting.

"When questioned about my background, I would fabricate stories, claiming that both my parents had died in a car accident, in order to fit in with the other children there," she revealed.

She continued to narrate that she left the orphanage after her mother's friend back home (South Africa) suggested that her daughter who was based in Bulawayo could adopt her to ensure she could attend school rather than continue living in an orphanage.

"The lady promised that she would take good care of me back in Bulawayo where she lived. Upon arrival, the house appeared grand and spacious. Accompanied by my father, I was shown a beautiful room designated as mine. However, after my father departed, we were all ushered into one large room along with other adopted children the lady had taken in.

"We were subjected to strict rules, including prohibitions on eating meat, sitting on the couch, or watching TV. Additionally, we were required to bath using cold water every day. Little did she know, the food she provided us, despite lacking meat, was healthier than what she denied us," she narrated.

As time passed, her father grew concerned about her weight. However, she chose not to confide in him about her struggles in Bulawayo, opting instead to keep it a secret.

"My father was worried when he visited as I looked skinny, but I did not tell him about the challenges I faced. He went to his grave without knowing, as this was my secret between myself and my God," she revealed.

During her stint in Bulawayo, a relative suggested that she be taken to Harare to live with another foster family who apparently, were very wealthy.

"I moved to Harare and enrolled at Roosevelt High School in Eastlea, which was a good government school located opposite a children's home. However, I was informed that I would need to work on weekends to earn money for my fees. It was during this time that I learned to cut meat at a butchery. By the age of 14, I was familiar with the different types of meat and their grades."

She recounted how living with this family provided her with valuable business insights, as they managed around 10 different enterprises.

However, from this foster family, she then left Zimbabwe as a pregnant teenager.

"As a teenager, I wasn't perfect, and I made mistakes. I became pregnant at the age of 16, from the son of my foster family. When the family discovered the pregnancy, they provided me with a house. Although the house was spacious, they made it clear that it would never be in my name, reminding me daily that it was a family property. Despite this, I resolved not to settle for less. Even though I knew that back home there were no extravagant cars in the yard, I decided to leave," she reflected.

"I requested to leave, implying that I would return, and they also believed I was fond of their luxurious homes and would eventually return. Little did they know that I had no intention of going back. Upon returning home to South Africa, I announced my arrival and apologised for being pregnant. However, I assured my family that I would work to improve our situation," she narrated.

Despite these obstacles, she remained resilient and determined to overcome them. Sophie then embarked on starting a small business to support her family, drawing upon the various skills she had acquired in Zimbabwe from crafting flowers to cooking and selling meat. Additionally, she volunteered as a presenter, which eventually led to an opportunity to audition for a role. This audition catapulted her to fame in the television soapie, Generations, where she portrayed the character of Queen Moroka. From there, she rose to become an award-winning actress, starring in various television soap operas such as Yizo Yizo, Soul City, High Rollers Season 2, She is King and Lockdown, among others. In addition to her acting career, she has become a successful businesswoman, running a wedding planning company and another business called Sophie on Wellness, which focuses on health issues. She has now ventured into producing as well and is set to feature in an upcoming show on Showmax.

Sophie's presence at the Esteemed Business Women Zimbabwe conference undeniably left a lasting impression on guests, highlighting the importance of resilience and determination in achieving success.

Source - The Chronicle
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