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Image: supplied.

‘You will never see private social media posts from me’ - Clement Manyathela

By Norman Cloete Time of article published Oct 18, 2020

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Clement Manyathela is the commando-going talk show host who makes no secret of his aversion to wearing underwear. The host of the 9-12, Clement Manyathela Show on 702 was mentored by and stood in for the likes of the late great Xolani Gwala.

He also stood in for and ultimately replaced Eusebius McKaiser. But for Manyathela it was never about filling someone else’s big shoes.

And many people may not know that he initially turned down the job because he would be expected to reveal so much of himself and would be forced to “smile”. Saturday Star caught up with Manyathela who went from telling the story to almost being the story.

Why did you say no to the first job offer?

I wanted a comfort zone. I never dreamed of hosting a show. Now I must smile and talk about sex and life. (Giggle) I came to Primedia to be a journalist, not a presenter. I consulted with my mentors and industry brothers and decided to give it a go.

You have stood in for the late Xolani Gwala and replaced Eusebius Mc Kaiser. Have you settled into your new role?

For me, it was never about carrying on with someone else’s show. I needed to start a new show, the Clement Manyathela Show. Also, the thing about stepping into someone else’s shoes ... the big shoes are still there. You have to bring your own personality.

What do you like about your slot?

When I did the breakfast slot, it was very fast and agenda-driven. The new slot is more long-form. I have more time with the guests. The listeners almost become your friends. The danger is that people also want to know more about your life. That took some getting used to. I now share so much more about myself.

What was the most heart-breaking conversation you’ve had?

Recently, we talked about poverty and I listened to how people have to cope with not having enough. It really just triggered me and I cried for the first time on air. I remember growing up poor and my father would buy rotten chicken for us to eat.

My mom would boil the rotten chicken for longer, thinking she was cooking away the rottenness. We never went to bed hungry but we also had to eat what we could; we did not have a choice. Also, my parents not only looked after me and my siblings, but also our extended families.

Any embarrassing moments on air?

Oh, plenty. I am a very private person and I hate being vulnerable. You will never see private social media posts from me but I have had people ask me out on dates. They ask to go for walks with them. Men and women. (Giggle) I still don’t know how to handle it when people come on to me on air but we do share some crazy stuff. Generally I just blush.

What was the weirdest thing you shared with your listeners?

The fact that I don’t wear underwear. As in completely commando.

Why would you do that? After a revelation like that, the conversation invariably ends up going down south?

(Laughter) It’s all part of sharing. I am learning to share more of myself. I need to be able to relate to the listeners and their lived experiences.

What are some of the favourite slots on your show?

I love the Open Line, I love The Healing Hour and recently we added a slot called Cooking with Clement. I am learning to cook more dishes and share my attempts with the listeners. Some dishes, like my chicken monare dish, is quite a success but my home-made custard needs some work. (Giggle)

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Vaalbank in Mpumalanga and only left there when I completed matric and went to study at the University of Pretoria.

How do you unwind?

I am a keen golfer. I like hosting my friends at my place and cooking at home. I also like being hosted by them. No clubbing and things like that. More quality time at home.

I also love to travel but I have not been able to travel because of lockdown. I love reading as well, although recently I have not done much of that.

What is the best part of your job?

Our new slogan, “Walk the Talk”, really resonates so well with me. We tell the lived experiences of all South Africans. We share of ourselves and the listeners take us into their confidence. I may have started out as a reluctant talk show host but I feel right at home now.

The Saturday Star

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