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Everything happens for a reason, so they say.

There is a reason why Apartheid landed in South Africa and refused to leave; there is a reason why the late Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail; there is a reason why some of South African icons are still alive – and one of them is Duma ka Ndlovu, a storyteller who escaped death nine times during the struggle.

According to the 61-year-old creator of the trend-worthy Muvhango soapie and Uzalo telenovela, the reason he survived countable deadly scenes is because he wants to tell African stories until ‘I breathe the last breath’.

In 607 words, Ndlovu exclusively shared his survival experience on social media – Facebook – with more than 10 000 of his fans.


(1) There must be a reason why I have survived all kinds of catastrophe and am still standing today after all these years. (2) There must be a reason why I survived Soweto in the sixties and seventies when thousands of other young people did not make it. (3) There must be a reason why I survived June 16, 1976, when hundreds of young black people did not make it. (4) There must be a reason why on June 17, 1976, in Orlando East Soweto a white policeman/soldier pointed a gun to my face at point blank range and tried to shoot and the gun did not discharge. I had put up a brave face and dared him to shoot me, and he did, and the gun jammed! There must be a reason! (5) There must be a reason why I survived exile in Lesotho, and left just a few months before the massacre where white soldiers came in and shot to death some of our comrades. (6) There must be a reason why I survived in the United States, where there are always thousands of reasons why black people die. (My closest friend and roommate of ten years did not survive, Reggie Nyovane committed suicide in 1986) (7) There must be a reason why I survived an attack by thousands of spear wielding marchers in August of 1992 when the IFP had gone to the FNB stadium to show support for the recognition of Isilo samabandla in the new dispensation. (I woke up the following day and approached the Inkatha’s Gauteng leadership wanting to do a documentary on the political violence that had enveloped black townships then). (8) There must be a reason why I survived the various wars in my hometown of Bergville, where two brothers were fighting over who should be the right inkosi yamaNgwane. Scores of people were killed in that conflict. (9) There is a reason why I have survived various South African calamities ever since I returned from exile, and am standing here to write this post.

When I ask myself the question why God has protected me all along, the only answer I come up with is that he wanted me to tell stories. I have survived all along so that I can tell my people’s stories, so that I could stand on the mountain top and tell stories. If it’s the only thing I could do, I would tell Black people’s stories with vigour, without fear or favour, with pride. I was born to tell stories, I was born to record and archive our people’s journey, taking off from those who came before us, continuing in the tradition and ready to pass on the baton to the future generations.

I want to tell stories until I breathe the last breath, until a few seconds before my eyes close for the last time. I want to tell stories of who we are and where we come from. I want to tell stories of our heroes and all those who died so that we could be free. I want to tell stories of the Great African kings, O Ndaba, OJama, O Moshoeshoe, vho-Makhado naboSoshangane. OMzilikazi noNgungunyana, OMswati no Queen Modjaji, oMbandzeni noMahlokohla naboMswati. OShaka kaSenzangakhona Ilembe elenqa amanye amalembe ngokukhalima, ONandi noMnkabayi noMmama. ONzinga noMantantisi naloLabotsibeni. OCetshwayo kaMpande noNOzishada kaMaqhoboza. O Lillian Ngoyi no Princess Magogo nawo Sara Manala Mankosi Ndlovu, OKangosini and all these great women whose deeds have gone without notice.

I have survived all these years, so that I can tell these stories. I just want to tell stories of great African and the great Africa…



About The Author


Born in Orlando West, Soweto, South African, Duma ka Ndlovu is a filmmaker, poet, playwright, journalist, and TV producer. He was professor of African history and African-American literature at New York's Stoneybrook University in the eighties and between 1996 and 2004 he was chairman of the SA Music Awards (SAMA).

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