January 01, 2024

Unathi Nkayi on the year that was and plans for 2024

Unathi Nkayi reflects on the year 2023

She is in her 'confident feminine era'. The past two years have been tough for media personality Unathi Nkayi but the year 2023 has been blissful and still. "This year, strangely enough for me has been peaceful and still. I spent 2023 harvesting. What I have been going through is building, ploughing, and investing in myself and that comes with stability peace, and knowledge of self. It's been a stable year," Unathi tells ZiMoja. "The year has been comforting. I had to take two years to hibernate, listening to myself, and finding myself. Unlike other people who have been going through ups and downs, mine has been stable." 


She is in a good space and still is in and out of court with Kaya 959 after they fired her following an altercation with former colleague Sizwe Dhlomo. "The case is still pending. But I am so good with myself that I don't even care anymore. I have a therapist and a legal team, I am good," she says. "These things take time. We are getting a pre-trial date soon and might end up in the high court in the coming year or two. But I am at a place where it doesn't affect me anymore. I am going ahead with it on principle, to give women hope and not make them feel unsafe," she says. She added that her attorneys and advocate are in it. "I don't have to think about it every morning. I am calm now. I have moved on for myself but I will not move on from the story that needs to be narrated for South African women in corporate dealing with boys clubs that think they will abuse power when they like what you're telling them," Unathi said. She is doing this to set an example. "I want women to trust their truth and know that it's valid. Think about it, two years later when we eventually get to the high court, Kaya 959 will have to stand in front of the judge and tell them that they fired me because I was telling a male colleague to stop being late weekly. Iyahlekisa and iyahlebisa! If your contract starts at 15:00, you can't walk in at 15:04, especially for radio, three times a week and get upset that I am telling you that you're late. I have been complaining for over a year to my male friends but nothing gets done," she says. "And then because I accidentally said that you swore when I was the one who swore, I get fired. I wrote two apology letters after swearing, it was my mistake. But he was aggressive, they still fired me. So, I am doing this for every black, white coloured, and Indian woman to say your experience is valid and don't allow the boys club to do as they please with your name, reputation, and legacy,' she says.


In 2023, unlike the past two years filled with uncertainty, she achieved a lot. "Personally, ndixolile," she chuckles. 'Professionally, I have released my first song in four years." Unathi partnered up with the Nana Cayote Foundation and used one of the late great's songs as a sample. She released, Ndiyazithanda Mna on Friday 24 November. She last released, music with Lady Smith Black Mambazo in 2019, then COVID-19 happened in 2020 and her Music Manager Pheko Kgengoe passed away and she spent time looking for a new team to work with. "I did not dare to do it alone, so I prayed that God give me a new team. I asked God to send me a team and he did. Then I asked him to send me the song, which I wrote one morning. "It's a feelgood, upbeat song, inspired by self-love," she says. "Remember, I was publicly humiliated and went through a hard time and had to find myself, love myself, and trust myself again. It was something I wanted to share with someone who is waking up,

going to work, or going for an interview and chasing their dreams. We can be hard on ourselves, I just wanted to be infectious validation and share self-love. We always seek validation from other people."


Last festive season, she travelled to Cape Town with 27 of her girlfriends on a three-day trip including Minnie Dlamini and Melanie Bala. This year, she finishes work on 18 December. "We are doing Cape Town and Durban. My kid's dad is from Cape Town, so we are doing pre-Christmas on that side, renting a holiday house as usual for the family and we have a lot of fun. Then Christmas in Joburg, my parent live in Pretoria, then from the 27th until the new year, we are in Ballito, Durban. Just before the kids go back to school, we will do a young Sun City trip," she says. "Last year I was working, so this year is quality time. I want to just balance." Unathi says this is her favourite time of the year. "I get to be free, no make-up, no bra, no shoes, no fancy hairstyles, wearing sweatpants and I get to sleep in and wake up when the sun is out. Spending time with loved ones and family is what matters. Waking up at 2 am and having Mimosas and not having to worry about being woken up by an alarm clock," she says. "I wake up and make mimosa. I don't need to think about working out for a week or two because throughout the year I invest in my body

and my health. I believe in fun, I'm a lover of life because I maintain during the Year."


In the new year, Unathi has set goals that she wants to mark off her list. "This year, I paid off my car. Next year, I plan to pay off my house, as a birthday present to myself. I am also building on my two properties in Gqeberha that I bought for my kids. That is definite,' she says. "I am also currently shooting a documentary, 30 Years of the Madiba Shirt with Tat'Ndamase who designed the shirt. It's a milestone because 1994 and next year 2024. From political icon to fashion icon 2024 is the voting year. We are also doing a reality show with Tat' Ndamase as well and he is going to mentor young designers with that he will collaborate and design a 30th-anniversary shirt. They will be mentored by Asanda Madyibi, my designer, Mzukisi Mbane from Imprint and Andiswa Manxiwa will be the creative director. So those are my big plans. But my done

town will be in Zanzibar next year.


In 2024, Unathi also wants to remain deeply in love. The media personality tells ZiMoja that she has fallen in love again after a few years of being in the market following her divorce from Thomas Msengana. "I am dating again. Yes! I finally trust myself to fall in love again and this man is wonderful," she says. "He is in business; we have known each other for a very long time. We started dating for about a year and it's been bliss." Unathi says, dating while in the limelight is tricky and one needs to be vigilant. "You need to take time to suss the person out and see If you're not dating a fan. It's tough. But luckily for me, we have known each other for a long time. I am comfortable. "Unathi says she never thought about it before, but she would get married again. "I love, love. I never considered getting married again. I was very hard after my divorce; it was survival mode. But I am feminine again. I have always believed in love. He gets me and appreciates what and appreciates what I do and we both have kids and it just works,"

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