By Anga-Anganda Bushwana
“Nanga ngobusuku ningalala nombethe ingubo yemvisiswano, uxolo nothando. Ndinithanda nonke emakhaya.” This was Noxolo Grootboom’s trademark sign-off for many years, every Saturday night at exactly 7:30pm on our television screens on SABC 1’s isiXhosa news. These heartfelt words will forever remain a much-needed message of hope and encouragement of peace to South Africans.
Noxolo Grootboom from Lady Frere Eastern Cape was born on 8 October 1960. Her name Noxolo means mother of peace and she lives by this. She is a pioneer and one of a kind, a Xhosa queen who prides herself on the exquisite articulation of the indigenous language and constantly reiterates the words “Ndingu Mamfene”, her clan name. A veteran broadcaster and linguist who began her career as a typist at the SABC, Grootboom was awarded an honorary doctorate by Rhodes University in 2021, and by Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in 2022.
Grootboom told Rhodes Music Radio listeners that she had no prior experience in journalism, but her drive and eagerness to learn saw her promoted to the newsroom and later taking up an opportunity to work as a news anchor on the isiXhosa news desk.
I had the opportunity of meeting her at the Rhodes Radio music studios, and oh my, she is even more beautiful and humble in person. Grootboom is a wife, a Methodist preacher, and a mother, not only to her biological children but to all the youth of South Africa. “Mntanam (my child), South Africans humbled me during my last bulletin, and the President humbled me even more when he moved his speech to accommodate me”, Grootboom tells Grocott’s Mail, referring to a Covid-19 “family meeting” by President Cyril Ramaphosa that Ramaphosa moved after hearing that it would clash with Grootboom’s final news bulletin.
“Now Rhodes University continues by awarding me this mural today. On top of seeing my name and face outside the Journalism department wall, I do not feel better than anyone else; I am just encouraged to remain humble,” she added. Her humility is something that many South Africans who have met her can attest to.
With National Women’s Day on 8 August, Grootboom had a message for South Africans amidst the many issues we are facing as a country, which include the gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) pandemic. Much like her message during her last bulletin, she said: “Mzontsundu, maliphele ichaphaza lempalalo-gazi esandleni somntu omnyama, nokubulala omnye umntu omnyama.” This is a plea to our Black men to stop killing our women and each other and for any sort of violence, not only gender-based violence, to end.