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One on one with Gugulethu 'Berita' Khumalo's mom

ZIMBABWE-BORN South Africa-based award-winning Afro pop songstress, Berita Gugulethu Khumalo, rebelled against her parents after they advised her not to pursue music as a career, revealed her mother during an interview with Sunday Leisure about a fortnight ago.

Berita’s mother – Berita Khumalo – revealed this on Berita’s birthday last week when they were in Bulawayo for a family reunion.

Born Gugulethu Khumalo 22 years ago in Bulawayo, the singer’s rise to stardom is one that is rather extraordinary in comparison to other musicians.

Berita’s story is a clear-cut example of a gifted young person who pursued both her dream and career, making the right decisions at the precise moment. At just 22, her echoes have been heard across the African continent and perhaps soon the world over.

Below is an interview Sunday Leisure Senior Reporter Peter Matika (PM) had with Berita’s mother, Berita Khumalo (BK).

PM: It’s rare to meet the mother of a star; it is quite an honour to meet you, Mrs Khumalo. Perhaps if we go straight into business, could you enlighten us on what people don’t know about Berita . . . her upbringing to be precise?

BK: The pleasure is in meeting you too and being at the centre of attraction and not my daughter.

She is the first among five children, as a child she was (and still is) very loving. Her heart is very accommodative and she often bared a unifying character whenever her siblings were involved in scuffles or misunderstandings.

PM: Interesting, where would you say she inherited such a characteristic?

BK: Well, we were pretty much nomadic when we were trying to set up our family. She basically grew up in a number of places in Bulawayo but wound up at her granny’s house in Nketa 6. We moved around a lot when she was still young. A place I really would like to note that has and had a major impact on her life was Zhombe, which is our homeland. Her father and I were schoolteachers there. I think because we were always travelling, living in different areas and places, she adopted diverse cultures, which therefore helped enhance her understanding of people’s different personalities.

PM: Since you were always travelling didn’t that affect her education in anyway?

BK: You would expect that all the travelling would have affected her education. Gugu was and is still very hardworking. She was always confident of herself and in her studies. I wouldn’t say she is a whiz-kid but she is a hardworking and determined person.

PM: So what you are basically saying is that she is a multi-talented person who focused on harnessing and exposing her talents?

BK: Basically yes.

PM: As a mother, how do you feel about her juggling school and music?

BK: Like any parent out there, it keeps us on the edge of our seats. We have always wanted the best for her and that is precisely what she is getting.

PM: How did she venture into the showbiz industry?

BK: It’s a complicated story but interesting. After she completed her O-level we migrated to New Zealand where she completed her A-level. She never showed an interest in music but when she learnt how to play the piano we noticed an element of the love for music.

It was only after she learnt how to play the guitar that she discovered her passion, naturally, we as parents, became concerned.

She became so much obsessed with the guitar that she indicated that she wanted to be a musician and we discouraged her. We are of the old school of thought that education comes first. We discouraged her and advised her to get a proper profession and that what she wanted to venture into was just a waste of time.

PM: Couldn’t you tell that she was fixated with music at that time and would rebel?

BK: As a parent you think your words are the rule but she persisted. We told her that she could do her music if she got good grades at school, which she did but music was ruling the roost.

We decided it was best for her to return home (Zimbabwe) to pursue her studies as we thought she was adopting a culture we were not familiar with. When we made our final commitments in sending her back home she took her guitar with her against our will.

PM: Like any other teenager, she rebelled but rebelled for a reason that bore fruits. Now that she is a star, how do you feel about the whole thing?

BK: It’s quite hard but we appreciate the support from people and the music industry as a whole. We still view her as a baby and you never know what she’ll get herself into but with her character we know she is mature to make the right decisions with her life. She is in her final year at school and is very responsible; she has done well so far. We have accepted that it is her dream to be a feature in the showbiz industry and she is doing something she loves.

PM: So are we likely to expect another musician from the family?

BK: That would definitely send us to hospital or the loony bin. Fortunately none of her siblings want to do music. They are all unique and want to venture into something different.

PM: Thank you so much for your time and wish you all the best.

Berita is one of the bravest young people to emerge in the music industry, considering the restrictive background she grew up in. Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on 27 June 1991, Berita, as she is known by all in the music industry, grew up an honest, loving and a nifty child who was loved and cherished by her elders.

She left Zimbabwe for South Africa at the age of 20 to pursue a career in finance since she had always wanted to be a successful businesswoman.
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