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The rise of Khaya Mthethwa

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IOL KhayaM

Munyaradzi Vomo

You know you’ve made it when, after you’ve won a competition, people still talk about you weeks after the announcement.

This year marked the eighth season of Idols and history was made when Durbanite Khaya Mthethwa won – the first black contestant to do so.

But let’s rather focus on how, like the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, Khaya sped through the Idols race with a comfortable lead from the start. Unlike Bolt, however, Mthethwa is the humblest guy you’ll ever meet and that makes many people like him even if he wasn’t their favourite.

You can see this character trait and much more about Mthethwa when you watch Move: The Rise of Khaya Mthethwa, a two- part special about the singer. Shot in a documentary format, it shows how Mthethwa absorbed the good news. We start from that moment of truth and then travel with him for the next 48 hours documenting his experiences after his triumph.

Apart from him being the first black contestant to make it to the top spot, Mthethwa changed a lot of things with regards to how the competition is conducted. To start with, in his first performance, he got judge Unathi Msengana to ask him to play more songs after the audition song. If you are an avid fan of the show, then you know she gave it away that the man would get far because judges will like you, but never hint just how much at the audition stage.

Then there was the issue of the social networks, which were abuzz from the first time we saw Mthethwa perform. A number of celebrities, including singer and rapper Kabomo Vilakazi and TV personality Minnie Dlamini, openly showed their support for the gifted singer on Twitter and Facebook. The two sites had huge virtual camps of large numbers that strategised on how to get Mthethwa to the top spot. When the final breakdown of results was released, it was clear that indeed these people were not just supporting him with praise, but with votes, too.

Unfortunately for the other contestants, Mthethwa was also the media’s favourite. That can be looked at from two angles. Since the media give a bystander’s account of what is happening, you’d expect that they’d treat everyone equally because a failure to do so would affect the result. It is almost like elections – imagine if other parties do not get a single word in the press, how would they fare on polling day? But then, in the spirit of media freedom, there is no point in telling the media who and what to write about, so the argument is a sad stalemate.

But the one thing that South Africans agree on, Mthethwa fans or not, was that the winner was the right choice, so much so that he should have never entered because it was unfair to everyone else.

In the documentary we see Mthethwa return home to meet the people who supported him. We see him in mayoral convoys, interviews and at the homecoming concert. It is an honest account of how a young man had a dream that will see his name written in the history books. Somewhere, somehow, some child has been named after this great singer with a bright future.

Move: The Rise of Khaya Mthethwa Part 1: The Home-coming, Wednesday, 9pm. Move: The Rise of Khaya Mthethwa Part 2: The Homecoming Concert, November 14, 9pm, (Mzansi Magic, channel 161).


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