I’m living my dream, says Zimbabwe-born star

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It’s his eloquence in commanding the queen’s language, the way he articulates and his confidence that has made him capture the hearts of many South Africans and beyond. He is none other than Zimbabwe-born Tapfuma Makina who is arguably one of the finest television and radio presenters in South Africa.

He is a presenter at Heart FM, which is a popular radio station in Cape Town and he also anchors sports news on etv’s 8PM bulletin, one of the most popular TV stations in South Africa.

Growing up in Botswana and in Zimbabwe where he attended Northlea High School in Bulawayo, Makina said he always dreamt of being a TV star since tender age. His journey to stardom, however, began at Rhodes University in South Africa when he got the chance to be on campus radio. Since then, he has never looked back.

“It feels amazing because I am basically living my childhood dream. I’ve always wanted to be on radio and tried hard to get on radio from the time I was 16, with very little success because I was told I was too young. When I got to Rhodes University, I took the chance to get onto our campus radio station RMR, and that’s where it all began.

“From there, I moved to Cape Town and started training at Heart FM, which is a commercial radio station and one of the biggest in the Cape Metro. Being in the industry means I have met a lot of really amazing people in media, one who recommended me to eTV when they were looking for a sports anchor for their 8PM bulletin. Having worked for the station’s parent company before (for Tech Report on eNCA), it was an easy decision to make, and I’ve been loving it,” he said.

Makina says the media industry has afforded him many opportunities of brushing shoulders with famous soccer stars, that he only used to admire on TV while growing up. He says up to this day, he still finds it difficult to believe.

“I’m a big sports fan and I have had the opportunity to meet some of the personalities I admire, Khama Billiat and Thulani Serero in their early days at Ajax Cape Town, to Siya Kolisi making his debut for the DHL Stormers. I’ve also ended up bumping into people I grew up admiring, I was at a friend’s birthday party one evening having drinks with Benni McCarthy. A few days later I remember thinking ohhh, that’s the same guy whose song Shibobo, my friends and I used to listen to in our dorm at Northlea High School,” he said.

Interestingly, Makina graduated with a degree in Biochemistry before diverting to media, his true calling. He says he realised half way through his degree that he was rather passionate about radio and TV but he still made it a point to complete his studies.

“I graduated from Rhodes University with a BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology. My intention was to either go into brewing and I would have loved to work for South African Brewery or Delta, or study further and attempt to do medicine. Halfway through my degree, I realised I was more passionate about radio and TV. With my parents sacrificing huge amounts of money to put me through university, I still decided I had to finish my degree”.

Makina said it was difficult to switch careers but his calling of being a presenter became louder, he couldn’t ignore it anymore.

“It wasn’t easy switching from what I had studied, to a career in the media, because of the way I was brought up. I think for most of us Zimbabweans, actually Africans in general, we were raised to go to school, study and get a job where you work 8am to 5am, wearing a shirt and tie. Our upbringing perhaps prevents us from pursuing non-traditional careers in sport, media or art. I’m glad I took the chance and I hope someone who’s thinking of switching careers or pursuing different passions, reads this and gets courage,” he said.

Asked if he is married or has kids, he said not yet.

“I am not married, but my mother keeps reminding me that it’s time. No kids either, but just like marriage, my mum keeps reminding me that it’s time,” he said while laughing. – Sunday News