We're chilling on a vast stretch of grass overlooking the Sun City Waterworld Lake at the Cabanas Hotel. The heat is relentless and the overhead umbrellas don’t seem to be helping. Luckily, there’s an endless flow of ice-cold Tropika to offer a bit of respite.
I’m here with a contingent of media, contestants and celebrities for the launch of the eighth season of popular reality competition, Tropika Island of Treasure.
This season’s host, Katlego Maboe, is running some media through a few fun challenges before we head off for dinner.
The 31-year-old’s career as host on shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and Expresso has earned him a glowing reputation and a couple of Golden Horns for “Most Popular TV Presenter”.
This role is one he relished. “They proposed it to me and I saw it as a new challenge for me in terms of my broadcasting skill-set, and also a great adventure to be able to travel to one of the most amazing destinations in the world and be able to host a TV show there - one that’s been much-loved by South Africans for such a long time,” he explains. “So when they put it in front of me I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes I’d love to do it’.”
The destination Maboe is referring to is the dreamy South Asian island of the Maldives. Maboe describes it as a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that he won’t soon forget. It’s like every single postcard you’ve ever seen, except it’s like 10 000 times better.
"It was incredible being there and walking on those white, sandy beaches. We took a boat out to one of the most amazing spots in one of the atolls where we went snorkelling. You literally just put your head in the water with your snorkelling gear on and it’s just full of turtle and fish and coral and super, super clear. It’s like you’re in one of these movies.”
Maboe also relished witnessing the element of competition that saw the mix of celebrities and contestants fiercely competing for the R1million prize money.
“You get to see the emotions they go through and the friendships that were formed between them there. When anybody got eliminated, there would literally be sadness, not just from the contestants themselves, but from everybody behind the scenes. You build friendships and you build camaraderie from the shared experience there. It was amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Maboe started the year off on a high note with the announcement that he and his girlfriend, Monique Muller, are expecting their first child. He says it’s a baby boy that they are expecting sometime this winter.
“Apparently those are more comfortable and bearable than summer births,” he quips. “We are very excited, we’ve already gone baby shopping and getting the room ready.” Has the pending arrival of baby changed how he goes about work? “If anything, it’s already got me excited, in the sense that like in a couple of months I’ll have a little guy at home who’s actually gonna be watching me on TV.
"So, an extra fan. I think it just has me motivated and inspired to work even harder and just be better at what I do. So that at the end of the day, he can have that example to look at and go, ‘Yoh, my dad was really, really good at what he did and he loved what he did and that’s what I want to pursue as well’. Not necessarily (pursue) a career in entertainment, but whatever it is that he would be doing.”
Formerly a part of a capella group Flip A Coin, Maboe also harbours ambitions of forging a music career. He takes his first big stab at this by performing the season’s theme song, Smoooth Fame.
“We had a lot of fun recording and making that song, and I hope that a lot of people who do get the chance to listen to it will enjoy it. And I guess the extra smooth feel-good factor on top of that is the proceeds from the sale of the song online will go towards charity.”
Right now, he’s writing, conceptualising and finding his sound.
“Everyone always wants to know, ‘What genre, what vibe is your music gonna be?’ And I’m like come on man, just listen to the music and decide whether you like it or not. I hate to box myself. I come from a very broad influence of music so my musical palette is quite varied. I think the music is going to be the big pursuit this year, so hopefully you’ll be hearing something on radio sooner rather than later.”
Catch the premiere of the eighth season of Tropika Island of Treasure on February 5, SABC 3.