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Buzz About Gospel is Mzansi’s first gospel game show. Hosted by Mzwandile Ngubeni, the show involves a quiz in which celebrities are asked general knowledge questions about gospel and their winnings go to a charity.
“There are two reasons why I was attracted to the game show,” explained Ngubeni. “It is taking away from the gospel stereotype and there is also a clever link between giving back to charity. We are also trying to capture the heritage of gospel and the beauty is that we are showing the history of gospel.”
The series is produced by former Isidingo actress Sara Thabete and her Gabaza Productions. So far, celebrities have included The Muffinz, Afrotraction and Moneoa.
“Buzz About Gospel aims to show audiences that there is a fun element to enjoy and one of the ways is to engage celebrities,” said Ngubeni. “I also love the educational element.”
He said he agreed to do the show after he was approached by Thabete when SABC1’s Spirit Sundae came to an end. “She said to me to be the crazy you. People have the perception that I am hard-working and serious. She wanted the audience to watch Mzwa having fun and yet being serious.
“My three rules on how I choose a show are, it must be inspirational, aspirational and there must be an educational element.”
These have been the major themes on all the programmes he has presented throughout his long and versatile career. “I first started out in 1992 when it was still TV2. The show was called Word Power and it was pre YOTV. I was 11. My grandfather used to drive me to the SABC and I used to look at those studio doors and go ‘wow’. I loved entertaining people.”
He then moved on to Youth Expression which was about informing the youth about why they should be politically educated. Choice was another hard-hitting show in which Ngubeni literally hit the streets and dealt with young people’s issues around HIV and Aids. Later on he was asked to present Spirit Sundae.
“I enjoyed Spirit Sundae because it integrates faith – from the Baha’i to Judaism to Zionism,” he said.
Ngubeni studied drama at the National School of the Arts in Joburg and has starred in films as well as playing smaller roles on Backstage, Isidingo and Mzansi. In terms of his film biography he starred in Jerusalema, a short South African called Vimba and played the leading role in a Polish film called In Desert and Wilderness which was directed by Gavin Hood. He also starred in David Kau’s latest films Taxi Ride 1 and Taxi Ride 2 which were on Mzansi Magic.
He recently had a role in the ground-breaking Intersexions 2 on SABC1.
“The theme of this Intersexions is secrets. I played Pastor Rex. Hmm, gospel seems to follow me. Anyway, he was a young, charming, humble pastor who took over a new church. He had sex with a character he picked up on the streets. She was a shoplifter and he wanted to rehabilitate her. She fell pregnant. He chose the church over her and sent her packing. By the end the audience hated him.”
Ngubeni says the acting bug has bit him again. “Intersexions was a comeback to drama and I have a huge hunger to go back and do short South African films.”
The man is fiercely proudly South African and this is reflected in his passion for South African music and club soccer. He can often be spotted at a music event bopping away to a Kalawa Jazmee artist or The Muffinz.
His off-screen personality is reflected in his amicable love of people. He has a sharp wit and his observations are incisive. He is not scared to speak his mind.
He had this to say about the new generation of actors: “I’m scared of the standard of performance we have on television at the moment. Too many have entered the industry and not understood the craft. They have equated it with the lifestyle of red carpets, parties and Twitter. In the seven years that I have focused on my corporate life, more and more young actors are focusing on the so-called branded celebrity lifestyle, and that needs to change.”
• Buzz About Gospel airs on SABC1 on Sundays at 5.30pm.