By Bongani Ndlovu
Many a time music stars around the globe are talked about the most, but the people behind their success such as their parents seldom hit the headlines.
This is true for Nkosana and Nobukhosi Mangena, who are the parents of Donel, the fast rising teenage global star who blew away the world with his captivating performances on The Voice UK.
Being a parent of a young man who is on the cusp of stardom can be daunting for the Mangena’s but they take it in their stride.
The two met at John Tallach High School and have been together for 19 years, 11 of them married as they celebrated their anniversary last week.
The family is in Zimbabwe for some down-time as they have been through a rollercoaster year that was centred on Donel competing in The Voice UK.
For Donel’s mother, Nobukhosi, she still finds it hard to share her first born son with the world.
“For me it’s mind blowing for people to be speaking so highly about Donel, but he is just my child at the end of the day. I’m trying to reconcile both worlds, him being my child and him being loved by people out there. I think it stems from the protective nature as a mother, I always want to have him close and know if he is fine wherever he is,” said Nobukhosi.
That protective nature of hers nearly caused Donel to miss auditioning last year on The Voice UK as she and her hubby Nkosana felt Donel was not yet ready.
“It was a bit hard to let go and I remember the first time he was supposed to audition we changed our minds to say he can’t go anymore. But the show called us and said they were interested in him. We had said if it’s God plan another opportunity will come along. That evening the show called us as they wanted him to be there. So that for us was a confirmation,” said Nobukhosi.
As she talks about Donel, in-between there is a beaming smile as she selects words to describe how proud she is of her son.
But for Nobukhosi she says her job is to keep Donel grounded in order for the world to get the best of him when he is on stage.
“At home it’s maintaining normalcy for Donel as a child. He’s got his chores; he still has to clean his room so he has to cook, wash dishes. We’ve tried to live our lives as normal as we can and I think him knowing that when he’s at home it’s a safe place for him. A place where he can be himself,” said Nobukhosi.
Devout Christians, Nobukhosi and Nkosana attribute Donel’s success to their faith in God.
For many who do not know, Nkosana once dabbled in the music industry with not that much success as compared to his son. He was once a kwaito musician and then changed to be a house producer. Nkosana has a studio in their house in Southampton, where the couple settled.
During this time Donel was watching his dad’s every move and from an early age, according to Nkosana, he wanted to be famous.
Seeing Donel on stage dazzling the world and warming people’s hearts for Nkosana is witnessing his son living out the dream he had when he was into music.
“I’ve always been musical myself. I would produce and write music. I have a studio and Donel would come and sing. I did produce some kwaito albums and then moved to some house music for myself and other people.
Donel is actually living my dream and for me it’s good he’s doing that. I can watch him doing all that on stage. I can’t dance or sing like him anyways,” chuckled Nkosana.
Supporting a child’s dream is the encouragement that he would give any parent because you will never know what opportunities one can miss.
“I think it’s important that as parents we support our children’s dreams. I’ve met people who are mature who say their dreams were crushed because their parents said they can’t do something. As parents if we realise our children’s dreams and really help them achieve them by supporting them you’ll see your child being happy and if they achieve their dreams you get the credit as the parent,” said Nkosana.
He encouraged parents not only to look at academics as he has learnt with Donel to nurture a child’s talent from a young age.
“It’s in the nature of our upbringing so mentally I’m programmed to think like that. But one thing for sure is that sometimes we’ll miss out on great opportunities that come once in a lifetime,” he said.
The two left for the United Kingdom when they were fairly young, just straight after their high school to make a life there together and married in 2007.
Ever since Zimbabweans started settling in the United Kingdom in large numbers in the early 2000s, stories have emerged of couples divorcing and relationships deteriorating the moment they set foot there.
Not for Nobukhosi and Nkosana.
“God and Jesus is the foundation of our marriage. There’s no marriage without problems, but like any other house if the foundation is strong then it’ll stand. I encourage that every relationship should be founded on Christ because when you build it on that it’ll be a genuine relationship,” said Nkosana.
In Nobukhosi’s eyes she is constantly falling in love with Nkosana and that keeps their love strong.
“The other thing in maintaining a relationship is going back to what made you fall in love with the person if that thing is still there and worth fighting for.
It’s about fighting for the good and if the bad comes but the good is always there. The biggest thing about Nkosana he’s passionate about whatever he does.
Be it relationships, be it work or his business or whatever he does it’s the passion that he has. I think it’s quite unique to find someone who is passionate about something. So if he’s made up his mind to love you he gives you his all. So for me it’s a quality that I keep going back to even in old age,” said Nobukhosi.
The couple have another child Malachi aged four who looks up to his brother. The Chronicle