Katlego Maboe is one of South Africa’s most well-known celebrities. The multitalented 30 year old has been a presenter on the SABC3 Expresso Morning Show, for the last six and a half years. He was named best TV presenter for this show consecutively for 2015 and 2016 at the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA). “My first SAFTA award was really special. It came after being in the industry for five years and I did not expect to receive the accolade. It was a huge honour, knowing that the public voted for me.”
He rushed through the doors, a little sweaty and flustered, yet still very energetic. Uber was nowhere to be found, so Katlego decided to put wheels to his feet and ran to be on time for our meeting. I gave him a moment to catch his breath. His head was still in running mode – moving from the one commitment to the other. After lecturing him on the importance of rest and not working too hard, albeit one of his qualities that I admire, I finally gave him the space to tell his story.
The brief hour I spent with Katlego was filled with precious gems. When I asked him to share his story, he painted an honest and truthful canvas of his life. I hope that as I share his story with you, that you would take these precious gems with care and appreciation. Notwithstanding, Katlego Maboe’s story resembles the story of many others. His vulnerability demonstrates his courage to live life to the full and fearlessly follow his dreams.
Born on the 29th of October 1986, he spent the first few years of his life with his parents in Phokeng, Rustenburg. It was not quite the start to life that any person would have wanted. His father was abusive and his parents consequently separated when he was three years old. The trauma caused by the abuse and the divorce, as well as the adjustment of being a single parent coupled with new financial constraints, contributed to his mother making the tough decision of sending her child to a better environment.
Katlego spent the rest of his childhood years with his grandparents in Potchefstroom. Those 18 years were not without challenges of its own, as his grandma “was never shy to administer punishment.” She believed that, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24). “Although at times it was a lot to endure, I will always be grateful because it installed lots of discipline in me.” Thankfully for Katlego, his grandpa held to the notion of, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). Grandpa had a much softer approach to parenting and discipline.
The handsome and stylish Expresso presenter is probably one of the most gifted individuals I have ever met. Throughout his school years he excelled in just about everything; sports, academics and the performance arts, in particular, being part of the North West youth choir. He loved singing and wanted to pursue a degree in music. However, his mother advised him to rather study something with more career stability. She did not want her son to, like herself, live from pay cheque to pay cheque. Adhering to his mother’s advice, Katlego went on to study B.Com Chartered Accounting at the North West University, Potchefstroom campus, and graduated in 2007. His passion for music and entertainment grew during his varsity years. There was a fire in him that could not be quenched, and it was burning more fiercely than ever before. Maboe participated in local talent shows on campus and became part of an A capella group, Flip a Coin. I personally absolutely love this band and I have their cd to prove it. Flip a Coin performed at various music festivals, and Katlego fell in love with the stage.
In May 2009 he auditioned as a field presenter for DEKAT TV. This was his first television gig. ‘That moment’… “Stepping into this unknown field was scary.” The following year, October 2010, at age 24, Katlego Maboe joined the Expresso family. “It has been an enjoyable journey. Expresso afforded me with great opportunities to travel the world and meet people I admire such as Josh Groban, who had a big influence on me when I was discovering my voice.”
The trilingual, fluent in Afrikaans, English and Setswana became a popular entertainer. His career and personal brand skyrocket as several opportunities emerged. He acted as Duma in the Afrikaans movie As Jy Sing, was a field presenter for the television programme 50/50, presented the Strictly Come Dancing reality show and hosted many prestigious events such as the 2016 and 2017 SAFTA’s ceremony. Maboe’s singing career did not trail behind. He was honoured to sing the national anthem at two respective rugby clashes in 2013, one at Newlands (Springboks vs Wallabies), and the other at Ellis Park (Springboks vs the All Blacks). Katlego Maboe’s ultimate dream is to have his own production company with television content that can be a source of inspiration and motivation to people, something like the renowned Oprah Winfrey show.
Beyond all the achievements, glamour and bright lights, Katlego wished that his family were not so far away. There are numerous moments when he misses his mother and two sisters, and he regrets not being present at so many family event. Maboe left Potchefstroom and came to Cape Town with no family in the Western Cape. These are some of the sacrifices that comes with pursuing a dream. “What is special about this journey that I am on, is the amount of pride that it brought to my family. In particularly, my grandma loved it when, after church, people would stop her and tell her how much they enjoyed watching me on Expresso.” Sadly his grandmother passed away two years ago. “I am just happy that in some way she was able to experience the rewards of the effort put into raising me.”
Although Katlego did not live with his mother for most of his childhood, she has played an active part in his life. “My mother has been my source of motivation. When things are tough she always says, ‘God did not bring you thus far just to let you down,’ I hold on to those words.” Katlego’s younger sister followed in his footsteps and also joined the North West youth choir. Two years ago in 2015, Katlego was able to pay for both his mother and sister to go on a choir tour to Europe. This was the first time his mother left the country. The local television sensation delights in being able to treat his family, as he acknowledges their hard work and sacrifices in allowing him to follow his passions. Being able to build his mother the house she always wanted might be one of his greatest achievements, and this not so much in the gift itself but more so in the response of his mother. His mother referred to the house as Ngwanake, ontirile motho mo bathong , loosely translated “my child you have made me a person among people”, in the context of his Setswana culture, this phrase carries deep significance coming from a mother to her child.
Notwithstanding, his father, although absent, impacted his life tremendously. Katlego vividly remembers… They were at school grafting an afternoon study session at the library. Katlego and his friend were feeling some study fatigue and decided to take a break. There was a shop with a pool table close by, and the boys went to play a round of pool. Katlego had his backpack with him and a man came and harassed him, wanting to steal the backpack. “It was a scary moment, as a rather punier sixteen year old, wrestling with this grown man.” Fortunately the security guard came and the man ran away. After the incidence, Katlego and his friend walked back to the library. Katlego went and sat down next to a tree. “I completely broke down crying…it was the first time that I felt the need for a father in my life. I would have loved to be able to call someone and say, ‘Hey dad, somebody just tried to rob me’.” It was in that moment, that Katlego experienced the lack of a father and desperately needed his dad. His grandfather played the role of a father figure and did a great job at it, but he was still his grandpa and not his dad. “I am not sure how I got over that moment and how it shaped me to want to be a good father one day, but I do recall it as a moment of loneliness and feeling kind of lost.” ‘That moment’ led to many personal reflections which cultivated a deep desire within himself to want to be a good father, one that is present and who provides for his family.
I would never forget that moment. Katlego shared an intimate moment that shaped his life internally, a moment he has never shared with anyone before. I hold that precious gem close to my heart. I was even reluctant to share it with you, the reader. My dad is also absent and you learn to fight your own battles. The pain and shame at times that accompanies growing up with an absent father is real and it’s something that never really goes away. My healing came when I allowed God to fill the gap, and be my Father. To some it might sound corny, but when there is a gap we all try and fill it with something. With the high divorce rates and single parent households across the world, sadly at times this specific gap is filled with all sorts of stuff such as drug and promiscuity. I gave my heart to the Lord in Standard seven, that is Grade nine, I think. Over the years I have learnt that God protects, is ever present and he provides. I have countless stories of His unfailing love in my life. I perceive it as an honour to have God as my first phone call and often my only phone call. “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:15).
Katlego believes that where there is love, anything is possible. This has especially been real for him in his career. He loves his work and is passionate about being an entertainer. Moreover, this saying reached full meaning in his life when he attended his father’s funeral in July 2016. “Attending my father’s funeral was something that I thought I would never do. There was a stage in my life when I swore that I would never forgive him for not being there, but love was stronger and I was able to forgive him. I chose to honour him and his memory by attending his funeral.”
We all have our ‘That moments’, when we decide between forgiving someone or to hold onto the pain. When we decide to ask for help or close down and pretend that everything is fine. When we decide to take a leap of faith and apply for that dream job, go for that audition or sit back, blame our circumstances for where we are in life and disqualify ourselves. Those moments when we are at our most vulnerable, we either choose to lean into the discomfort of life, or take up a shield of protection that inhibits us to face the moment with courage and ultimately live a wholehearted life. I have recently read a book called Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I highly recommend this book if you would like to know how to best deal with your ‘That moments’.
It was evident to me why Katlego is loved the way he is loved by the public. He is not scared of being vulnerable and he makes himself relatable – no pedestals, just and ordinary man, working hard, pursuing his dreams. His courage is contagious and I hope all who reads his story will be inspired and would find new courage to face what is in front of them. Sometimes our most precious gems and moments of growth in our journey is locked away in the unpleasantness of life, those moments when you do not really know what to do but you bravely move forward. May your next ‘That moment’ be a moment of personal growth and inner victory.