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Makheni Zonneveld, 68, set to get the world dancing with debut single ‘Asihambe’

The Coolest Granny in Town. Picture: Supplied

The Coolest Granny in Town. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 17, 2021


International speaker, storyteller and singer Makheni Zonneveld has recently released her debut single titled “Asihambe” (Mogwanto), a feel-good tune to “dance away the Corona blues.”

“Mogwanto” which means brisk walking or marching in Setswana, a 14-language Afro-pop song which is more than a dance song, it’s the theme song of ‘The Free Health Club’, a free online service that aims to get the world walking, dancing and making healthy lifestyle choices.

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Zonneveld, who goes by the moniker “The Coolest Granny in Town” says she’s on a mission to spread a global “happydemic” while helping people to stay healthy this festive season.

Speaking of the song: “Wellness is a serious subject, so I decided to inject some fun into it and make it infotainment. I encourage people to start walking, starting at a low tempo and gradually increasing the time and tempo until they can walk to the tempo of the song for 30 minutes per day,” she said.

Zonneveld bears testament to George Eliot’s famous phrase “It's never too late to be what you want to be”.

The 68-year is in the studio working on her debut album, which is set to release in early 2022, a dream come true for Zonneveld.

“For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to become a singer and dancer. I grew up as a South African that had no TV. I must have been about 11 when I saw an entertainer for the first time. I saw Joe Wa katara (Joe with a guitar) singing and dancing his heart out and knew that that was what I wanted to do. Not a word to my strict mother. I knew she would faint.

“Back then becoming an entertainer was not seen as a career option, especially for females. You went to university and got a decent career, end of story!

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“I’ve always sung in choirs and always communicate through music. In the past 22 years I’ve made up for that by turning every inspirational talk I present into a show by singing in between. The same applies to storytelling,” she said.

The Netherlands-based star is also known for age defying beauty.

“I’ve always looked younger than I am and always had amazing energy levels, so I went through life answering this question. In 2003 when I turned 50, I was interviewed on TV, magazines, newspapers and radio because I did not even look 40. My answer was always ‘A healthy lifestyle’.

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“I was called a health fanatic and I thought I knew everything about good nutrition until I got arthritis in 2006. I only realised how little I knew in 2008 when I found information that literally saved me from a major operation.

“Since then, I have seriously studied what real healthy eating means and I’ve been sharing that with anyone who would listen. It’s a lot of information so the idea is to share it in bite-sized chunks. I also involve health experts because I’m only qualified to talk about mental health,” she said.

With that said, we asked Zonneveld to share some of her top tips for a healthy lifestyle.

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“Join the Free Health Club,” she said in between chuckles.

“Forget the quick fixes and expensive cosmetic procedures. It’s about mental and physical health. I’ve always exercised, drank a lot of water and eaten healthily according to what I knew at the time. As I’ve said, my eyes were opened in 2008. I also abstained from legal and illegal drugs from the start. Contrary to popular belief, defying your age has little to do with genes,” she said.

The song is linked to a dance competition. Participants stand to win R5 000.

“This is for all ages, from four up to 104, and if all members of the winning dance group are over 55 then the prize money increases by 20%,” Zonneveld said.

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Asihambe (Mogwanto) is out now on all digital platforms.

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