“I wasn’t in a good space” – Bonko Khoza on why he quit playing Mqhele on The Wife
South African actor Bonko Khoza has said he had to relinquish his popular role as Mqhele Zulu on the hit TV series, The Wife, as a combination of fatigue and fame started to have a negative effect on his mental health.
Khoza, a fan favourite on the show, quit in August 2022, with his role taken over by Wiseman Mncube.
In an interview with TshisaLIVE, Khoza said preparing for the role had taken a great toll on him as an actor.
“Committing to a guy like Mqhele from a psychological point of view and from an appearance point of view, there was work we had to do [to get fans to differentiate between the two]. Mqhele was hard-core. We built Mqhele so far from Bonko that I could spare myself,” he said.
Khoza said a combination of factors, including workload and the burdens of fame, had led to him relinquishing the role, as he did not want to shortchange fans by giving shoddy performances due to the poor state of his mental health.
“Mental health comes first for everybody. I wasn’t in a good space … was it the fame, workload or fatigue? I think it was a combination of things. I think the point is I didn’t see myself fit to deliver to the people who look up to me.
“I don’t ever want to feel I’m doing things for money. I never want to shortchange people who support me, and in that same breath, I want to preserve myself for them because I can be Mqhele forever or realise that I’m only 32 and there’s so much more.
“Things are going to come, but Bonko is only one n*gg*, so if I compromise my mental health or myself for one job, I am denying the audience a lifelong experience,” he said.
After Mncube was announced as the “new” Mqhele for season 3 of the telenovela, Khoza went on Twitter to highlight the fact that the despite his popularity, the character did not belong to him.
“I pray one day the audience and the creators can be on the same page because there’s a real disconnect between what happens behind the scenes and what the public sees. This character does not belong to me.
“It belongs to Sis Dudu and Showmax. Meaning it can be played by whoever they see fit. As for me I did my fair share. And now it’s time to give other actors a chance on the same big platform that I got given a chance,” he wrote.