Women’s Day: Relebogile Mabotja on what being ‘imbokodo’ means to her in 2023

Multi-award-winning media personality and businesswoman, Relebogile Mabotja. Picture: Supplied

Multi-award-winning media personality and businesswoman, Relebogile Mabotja. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 9, 2023


Multi-award-winning media personality and businesswoman Relebogile Mabotja is a woman of many talents.

She has been in the entertainment industry for 20 years, leaving her mark across various sectors of the arts as an actress, musician, TV and radio presenter, musical director, executive producer and voice director.

“I started out hungry, passionate and loving what I do, and 20 years on, it’s the same ethos I carry with me in everything I do.”

As South Africa celebrates Women’s Day; a day that commemorates the anniversary of the great women's march of 1956, Mabotja shared with IOL Entertainment what it means to be imbokodo in 2023.

Over the years, the meaning of the battle cry of South African Women “Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo”(you strike a woman, you strike a Rock) has evolved, meaning different things to each individual.

“I am moving further away from the term because of what it requires a woman to be and endure.

“I am happy to be a strong woman who can ‘do it all’ but I am also human and don’t need to struggle or suffer to be valued or worthy of respect in any space.

“Being a strong black woman is exhausting and we are tired.

“Being able to say that truthfully and being able to say no to things and prioritise my mental wellbeing over other things is how I am being “imbokodo”.

Mabotja began her career as a 17-year-old triple-threat stage performer on ‘Fame - The Musical’ and her career has been paved by other women championing her, mentoring her, and opening doors for her.

“As the world is being awakened to the power of women, it is important that we as women lead the conversation and the way,” explained Mabotja who is an advocate for mentoring those making their way up the ladder.

“Not only is mentorship a way to pay it forward, but it provides an opportunity to directly influence and impart knowledge to the girl child.

“My advice is that women should do it their way. Women and girls should feel free to create their own paths without judgement or fear of failure.

“And even if they do fail, they should be empowered and confident of the fact that they will still be valued and celebrated.”

Mabotja encourages women in the industry to collaborate and share with each other information that can help progress the industry.

Relebogile Mabotja. Picture: Instagram

“There are so many ways we can improve while building and uplifting and having everyone benefit.

“Collaboration is a good start. Sharing information. Like how much we should be getting paid and easier ways to do the same thing.”

Mabotja has shown throughout her career that having her hand in many pies is beneficial and also helped shift her into a boss and be able to create opportunities for others.

“We can create and achieve more collectively than doing it all by ourselves. This is literally how ‘Unpacked’ came about.

“Creating opportunities using the relationships I had and getting the right people together behind the vision. It’s not easy but it is possible.”

South Africans can catch the media personality weekday on 702 ‘Afternoons with Relebogile Mabotja’ from 1pm – 3pm, and can look out for the new season of ‘Unpacked with Relebogile Mabotja’ coming back to S3 soon.