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Nelisiwe Sibiya on reliving her mother’s last days on the set of ‘Durban Gen’

Published Mar 10, 2021

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Nothing could ever prepare you for the loss of a parent, no matter how strong you may think you are.

Actress and singer Nelisiwe Sibiya can attest to this as she was recently forced to relive her mother’s last days during a scene in the popular medical drama, Durban Gen.

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Although her mother passed away in 2016, Sibiya says the pain is unbearable.

“Shooting these hospital scenes was so close to my heart 😭💔 ...I went all out bringing this to life as they always reminded me of my late mother’s last days at the hospital. 😭 how much she fought sickness which was said to be cancer.

"She fought. She honestly thought she would be better kante (but) death was too stronger than her. It was time,” Sibiya revealed on social media.

The star added that her younger sister stopped watching the show because the emotions were so real.

She continued: “I got a text from my sister that broke my heart so bad. She told me that since I started being in the hospital she stopped watching ‘Durban Gen’ because I look exactly like my mother and it reminds her of those last days. Mind you, she passed away in her hands.”

Following this post, we made several attempts to chat to the actress but were informed that she was not feeling well.

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When we finally caught up with her, this week, Sibiya, in better spirits, explained that she started feeling sick shortly after shooting the intense hospital scenes. Talk about art imitating life.

“I think it was just fatigue but I’m feeling much better now. I just needed to rest,” Sibiya said.

She said that being the lead actress meant she sometimes spends up to 10 hours on set.

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And things haven’t been easier with the recent turn of events for Mbali Mthethwa, who desperately needs a kidney transplant but finds the odds stacked against her.

This is what has kept “Durban Gen” fans glued to their screens. Just a few weeks earlier, Mbali was excited about marrying the love of her life but now she’s fighting for her life.

Sibiya says that interpreting the role of Mbali has been the biggest challenge of her career. But it is the similarities that she and Mbali share that got her to nail her first lead role like a pro.

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“I had to tap into the sense memory of when I used to see my mother in the hospital fighting for her life… It's still a process. I'm still healing from everything that I went through.”

Echoing her sister’s statement, she said: “It was so scary because I really looked like my late mother in some of the scenes.”

Sibiya says it was after shooting Mbali’s kidney failure diagnosis that she got sick herself.

“The whole thing really took me back. It reminded me of everything. My dear mother… may her soul rest in peace.”

Sibiya said that despite the challenges with the story arc, playing Mbali had been a blessing.

Reflecting on some of the difficulties she endured before securing the big role, she said: “When I went to audition for the role of Mbali, I had just come out of the hospital.

"I suffered from severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I didn't know what was happening in my life. I had lost everything… My music contact was coming to an end. Covid-19 looming and there were no gigs… I didn’t have money to pay rent. I had broken up with my fiancé. I had to start from scratch.

“This job came just at the right time and I am so grateful to bring the character to life. I would like to thank the fans of the show for their amazing support.”

The questions weighing on the mind of viewers is: Will Mbali survive or is it the end of the road for her?

Catch all the “Durban Gen” drama on e.tv, (DStv Channel 194) at 6.30pm, weekdays.

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