Unathi Nkayi. Picture: Supplied
Unathi Nkayi. Picture: Supplied

A moving tell-all memoir by Unathi Nkayi

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Jan 17, 2020

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Unathi Nkayi is a multi-faceted woman. She is a judge on "Idols SA", a musician and a trailblazer.

Circa the ‘90s, she carved a niche for herself in the local entertainment industry.

Her natural talent, work ethic and love for what she does has helped her on her journey to becoming one of the most credible artists around.

Remember when she was a co-presenter on Castle Loud? Or when she was one of the only black, female artists who were brave enough to sing and speak their truth?

Well, it’s easy to forget as Nkayi does all of these things so effortlessly and with incredible grace.

Now she’s released a book, "I Keep Learning", which is a reflection of her personal and professional challenges and victories since she first stepped onto stage and in front of the cameras.

I Keep Learning, which is a 168-page memoir, takes us through some of her most memorable career-defining moments as well as her relationship with ex-husband Thomas “Bad Boy T” Msengana.

In the first few chapters, the reader immediately gets a sense of who she is and what she is about.

Nkayi’s marriage to Bad Boy T made them an “It” couple with many South Africans falling in love with their story.

In the memoir, Unathi shares intimate moments of their love.

“Thomas and I had always been great friends. Through from the very beginning, there was an intangible fire between us that was always burning without seeking attention.”

“I found him beautiful. Inside and out. Pour me some cold water-water sugar he was beautiful. I loved his skin deeply. It was brown like it had been dipped in chocolate mousse. His eyes could penetrate deep into people, not at people,”she writes.

However, their love story does not have a happily-ever-after ending.

Nkayi opens up about the dark days when she used to consume alcohol every day to cope and survive.

“I had to time it very well. My kids’ bedtime was 8.30pm, so I would drink from that time and make sure I was sober by 5am when they woke up. I needed to be sober for them and the listeners on Metro FM. I didn’t want my children to see me at my lowest. Through my experience, I’ve learnt that it’s OK to be not OK,” she says.

Through this book, I found Nkayi to be relatable. She is all of us in different stages of life. She teaches us that nothing comes easy, we have to work hard for it.

Through her life experiences, we learn that life doesn’t always go as planned: sometimes it will give you moments of doubts, fear, vulnerability and sometimes depression. 

The best thing to do is carry on living, fighting and try and be the best version of yourself despite what the world may say or throw at you.

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