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Celebrating the Matriarch with Zandisile Nhlapo and Ntando Zikalala

In the heyday of South Africa’s entertainment industry, a generation of young viewers was captivated by the charismatic presence of Zandi Nhlapo, a budding television personality who, even in her teenage years, exuded an aura of promise and talent. Fast forward to the present, and Zandi has ascended to the status of a veteran TV personality, her influence resonating far beyond the confines of the screen.

However, Ntando's journey took a slightly different turn, carving her own path within the same industry that had established her mother’s career. Today, the 31-year-old stands as a manager to the industry's brightest stars (yes, including her own Mama Za), guiding and shaping the careers of today's It Girls with a keen eye for talent and a steadfast commitment to excellence at To The Max Brand Management.

Photographer: Zander Opperman/@uglybruvmage

Yet, amidst their journey of growth and accomplishment, one constant remains – a bond forged in the crucible of motherhood.

For Zandi, motherhood began at the tender age of 17, a time when most teenagers are navigating the rocky waters of adolescence, perhaps even more so for a teenager in the public eye. "I've known my daughter, Ntando, as long as I've known myself," she reflects, her words imbued with a sense of awe and wonder. "It's like seeing myself 2.0 – only better."

Ntando echoes this sentiment, reflecting on the unique journey they've shared. "Mama Za had me when she was 17," she shares, musing on the trajectory of their lives from the analogue era of the ‘90s to the digital space of the millennials (and beyond). "We've discovered everything together – all the changes and world shifts.”

Their shared journey is a testament to the resilience of a young mother’s spirit – one that encourages growth and fast adaptation. As they navigated the complexities of motherhood and womanhood, they embraced each new challenge with determination, although they admit parenting is a game of trial and error.

"I didn't even know myself," Zandi confesses, reflecting on her journey of self-discovery. "I hadn't found myself." Yet, in the midst of uncertainty, she found solace and purpose in becoming a mom, learning to guide her daughter with unwavering support.

Photographer: Zander Opperman/@uglybruvmage

This is why Zandi boldly claims the title of ‘matriarch’, earnestly expressing: "For me, being a matriarch is more than just a title – it's a conscious choice.” Her words carry a weight of responsibility as she acknowledges that “you can choose not to be a matriarch. You can choose not to take that responsibility. It’s a choice that you make.” A statement that echoes the sentiments of women worldwide who navigate the delicate balance of tradition and modernity, legacy and innovation.

As we delve into our conversation, more details on the exploration of their unique maternal friendship unfold. As the mother-daughter duo reflects on their relationship, Ntando offers insights into how they’ve helped each other grow, emphasising their shared focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. "Our bond is very unique because it’s not by the book like a traditional mother-daughter relationship," she shares candidly.

The mutual admiration between them is palpable. Zandi, in awe of Ntando's strength and confidence, sees in her daughter a reflection of her own potential. Her reflections on the importance of presence and self-discovery resonate deeply, underscoring the journey of self-realisation inherent in the maternal experience.

Ntando's insights carry a weight of practicality as she speaks of the imperative of self-care and compassion. "You can't pour from an empty cup," she remarks as she emphasises the importance of prioritising one’s mental well-being as a mother – a lesson steeped in generational wisdom. Reflecting on her past experiences, she says: "I discovered my soft era years ago, where I realised that I do not enjoy challenges that compromise my wellbeing.” This is not only applicable to motherhood but extends across all facets of her life.

As Mother's Day comes and goes, the conversation takes on a reflective hue, highlighting the significance of honouring maternal love on a daily basis. For Zandi, it's a poignant reminder of the enduring umbilical connection between mother and child.

Their conversation draws to a close with Zandi sharing her aspirations for the future with contagious enthusiasm. "What's next for me is the 5th Floor, baby!" she exclaims. With her 50th birthday on the horizon, she approaches life with a renewed perspective, aiming to navigate each day with conscious intention and gratitude.

Photographer: Zander Opperman/@uglybruvmage

Her career trajectory now takes a dynamic turn as she sets her sights on a 360-degree approach to broadcasting. "I'm focusing more on telling stories visually, behind the camera, through the production company we're working on," she reveals, her passion for storytelling evident. Additionally, she's committed to growing her creative agency, Liquid Image Consulting, and diversifying into other sectors, seizing every opportunity to make a meaningful impact.

But this TV icon’s ambitions don't stop there. With the launch of her podcast, More than Management, she embarks on a new venture aimed at engaging with industry professionals and shedding light on the evolving field of artist management. As a trusted voice in the industry, she's determined to inspire young individuals to join this thriving space and advocate for the support and recognition that every artist deserves.

Meanwhile, Ntando's agency, To The Max Brand Management, continues to flourish, marking a significant expansion with the launch of their sports division. Their commitment to excellence and innovation remains unwavering as they strive to provide top-tier services to their clients.

Together, Zandi and Ntando epitomise the essence of success on their own terms. As they continue to navigate the realms of motherhood and career, they're not just raising children; they're giving life to new projects in the world of broadcasting, brand management, and beyond. As working moms, they defy expectations and rewrite the script, proving that motherhood is not a limitation but a catalyst for growth and accomplishment

Written By: Afika Jadezweni In paid partnership with Foschini

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