As the country celebrates Women’s Month, we profile some of Africa’s most powerful women in new media. Here is a woman whose work in media is definitely worth acknowledgement. Having been the first black female sports anchor to work on many of South Africa’s biggest platforms such as SABC’s Morning Live, 702 Talk Radio, e.TV Prime Time news desk and being the first ever South African woman to anchor sports for an international news channel, Al Jazeera- she has definitely made her mark in the industry. I’m talking about the beautiful, the resilient and remarkable Xolelwa Majeke.
Nunn: We’re celebrating top women in new media. Take us through your background, who is Xolelwa Majeke?
I am a mother, a sports lover, a Women’s Manyano member in the Methodist church and I am extremely passionate about television and in particular reality TV. Growing up I wanted to be a Social Worker, but God had other plans for my life. However, having been blessed enough to carry the name Xolelwa Majeke has allowed me to be a blessing to others, with the help of those with greater resources. I strive to live my life with kindness everyday, in the hope that one day, should I no longer be around, my daughter will reap the benefits of having had a mom who treated others with love, respect and compassion. I am a village girl at heart, from eMzintlava in Lusikisiki and I am happiest there, even though I have travelled the world – that space brings me the most peace. I was born to a humble, hard working woman, Nomonde Majeke, who succumbed to cancer in 2007, whom I miss everyday and to whom I owe everything.
I really got into the media industry by chance. Firstly as a student in the Free State I got involved with community radio because I was with a friend at a station and the newsreader was running late – right place right time sort of situation. But once I moved away from Bloemfontein and started working in corporate SA, I never thought I would find my way back to media. Then one day I wrote a letter to the editor of Soccer LADUMA about football issues and Pieter Du Toit gave me a chance to write for the publication and the rest as they say is history.
Nunn: You worked as a sports journalist, most of us would consider that a male-dominated field. What were some of the challenges you faced while working as an anchor and how would you describe the experience?
I was fortunate in that I started out as a print journalist, so by the time I got to anchor, I had credibility. But yes, it was not always easy, some men would see a “pretty face” nje and want to push their own agendas – but as soon as I opened my mouth, we were all quickly on the same page. Knowledge is truly power. A lot of male colleagues though were extremely helpful and kind, never patronising nor intimidated.
Nunn: What have been some of the greatest highlights in your career?
Gosh, everyday for me has been a highlight. Growing up we don’t know where our lives will take us, most times we only imagine…so being raised by a single mother, from rural Eastern Cape and having achieved all that God has put in my path, has all been one hell of a highlight. But Al Jazeera definitely was big for me, two football World Cups were huge for me and now even away from sport, the highlights have not stopped.
Nunn: Tell us about your move from eNCA, what inspired the decision?
Moving from Enca which is the 24 hour news channel, I moved to e.tv’s Prime Time news desk and it was mind blowing working with Sally Burdette and Pat Pillay, plus an incredible crew…becoming a regular face, building a following. But you know personal life events kept nagging at me and there was this voice that said “you have done it Mambhele. You can do it with your eyes closed now, so time for a new challenge”.
Nunn: We’re celebrating Women’s Month. In your opinion, what defines a true African woman?
By virtue of being born on African soil, young girls grow up to be African women…you cannot fake that. I will say this though having travelled the world and met women from many different African countries and even African American women, two things are common amongst us – strength and resilience.
Nunn: What advice do you have for young ladies who dream of joining the media industry?
It’s not a 9 to 5 industry ladies, be ready to work your butt off. Ask if you do not know, ALWAYS do you and once you have acquired the skills and contacts, pay it forward. Let at least one person say “thank you, you changed my life”…it costs nothing.
After leaving the journalism field, Xolelwa took time off to see to a private business with former colleagues. She has also had an opportunity to direct one of SA’s biggest reality shows Khumbul’ekhaya, a show that re-unites long-lost relatives with their loved ones. She has also produced and directed a game show and most recently became a content producer for Mahadi Lobola, a reality series that follows families throughout their lobola negotiations- a first for South Africa!
This woman continues to soar, everything she touches turns to gold. Nunnovation has identified her as a Nunnovator, a perception shifter and a go-getter. We wish her success in her future endeavors, we know there’s more to come!