“Mfundo Mpathani, known as Mfuras Mfondini in radio circles, invited me for an interview on his radio show after reading my work on the FunDza mobi site. It is after that interview that my love and passion for radio was ignited,” explains Mfundo Ntoni, who at 22 has already started surfing the airwaves.
Mfuras Mfondini then took Mfundo under his wing and onto the air they went.
“I stayed after my interview and that is when I expressed my interest to do radio. It turned out the station manager was also impressed. I was then given an opportunity to co-host beside Mfuras. We did the show together for over three years at Radio KC 107.7,” he recalls. Mfuras now works for the second largest radio station in South Africa, Umhlobo Wenene Fm.
Mfundo rewinds to where it all began.
“I grew up listening to radio most of my childhood as we didn’t have a TV set at home. We listened to the news on the radio at around seven in the evening. Almost every household in the township would listen to the radio drama (Ibali) on UMhlobo Wenene, and I l just fell in love!”
The son of a domestic worker and a plumber Mfundo’s life wasn’t without hardship.
“My father passed away after a short illness in 2013 while I was doing grade 11. That was the most difficult time in my life. Things were difficult at home after the passing of my father as my mother was the only breadwinner. She didn’t have time to mourn her husband as she had to continue to work to support us.”
His ordeals were far from over.
“My dad had been permanently working for a particular company in the automotive industry for over four years. Watching my mother going up and down trying to claim my dad’s funds in vain was heartbreaking. In 2014 I had to miss my matric ball that I had planned and envisioned since grade 8. The situation at home was just bad. I had applied to do Journalism at CPUT, but things did not go my way and I had to look for an alternate route. I then registered for a Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies at a private institution, but I dropped out very early due to financial difficulties.”
At a tender age, Mfundo had to put his radio ambitions on pause and go to work.
“I worked for a labour broker at a warehouse in Brackenfell. I worked a twelve-hour shift and earned peanuts. I think I worked there for three weeks and then quit. The manual labour was just too much for me and I did not like the job at all. Afterwards I focused all my energies on what I loved; radio.”
Mfundo has had a few accolades for his career that is taking off.
“In 2014 the station (Radio KC 107) awarded us with community service awards. I have been featured in various newspaper articles nationally and locally. One of the biggest achievements has to be the new role that I am going to assume at Cape Winelands FM as head of news and current affairs host.”
He couldn’t contain his ecstasy for a new community radio station he’s part of.
“I will head the news department and also host the current affairs program at Cape Winelands FM, which will go on air on the 1st of April 2019. It’ll broadcast for the Stellenbosch community and the surrounding areas in the Cape Winelands.”
Mfundo’s a bilingual broadcaster and that makes him stand out.
“There was no school in Wellington that used isiXhosa as a medium of instruction or as an additional language, and my parents were against the idea of not having isiXhosa in my schooling, so I did my grade 1 and 2 at Mbekweni Primary School…” he explains.
As a way of advancing his career, Mfundo joined the Activate Network in 2018.
“My goal when I applied to join the network was to connect with like-minded young people who are passionate about driving change for social good. Being part of the network has connected me with really amazing young people and has exposed me to opportunities. I visited Johannesburg for the first time attending a radio workshop through Activate!”
“Five years from now I see myself on a much bigger platform – on commercial radio or working for the Public Broadcaster. Last year I took a decision to return to school. I am currently pursuing my legal studies with UNISA, and this is my second year. The ultimate goal is to get a degree in law, but I don’t put too much pressure on myself as I have other commitments that take much of my time.”
Mfundo attributes everything to his parents.
“Though they did not get very far with formal education, they always encouraged one to focus on school. I still live by the same values they instilled in me as a young boy. When I get up in the morning I ask myself, ‘Have you achieved everything you set out to achieve? Is this the life you’ve always wanted?’ The answer is always a NO. There is still so much I need to achieve. The commitment to the creation of the life I want for myself and my family is what fuels me.”
He wraps up the interview with a few words of encouragement.
“Every bad situation has an expiry date; no situation lasts forever.”
You can read Mfundo’s published work here
Tell us: What did you learn from Mfundo’s inspiring story?