- The queen of Gospel gave fans a rare glimpse into her childhood
- She talked about the challenges she faced, from extreme poverty to an abusive dad
- But, despite everything, she praises God for her success
Rebecca Malope has opened up about her childhood, giving fans a glimpse at what led her to become the woman she is today.
Thus far she has accomplished many things in her life- she has a successful Gospel career, she obtained two honorary doctorates from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and most recently she managed to land a deal in the radio industry.
But, Malope’s life was not always this perfect, in fact, she had quite a challenging childhood.
The Gospel star grew up in KaNyamazane, just outside Nelspruit. Malope explained the odds were against her throughout her childhood, but added God always watched over her.
Malope, who turns 50 this year, had a rough start in life. She was born prematurely after her dad, John Malope, beat her pregnant mom, Paulina Twala.
She explained she was a late bloomer compared to the other kids her age, adding she was sickly and undernourished child, who started walking late.
And, her family’s financial difficulties did not help either. The queen of Gospel explained how their poverty resulted in her leaving school in grade 1.
She added it changed how people saw them, “Even our neighbours avoided us – they didn’t want to mix with us. They treated us like outcasts because we had nothing. We were always struggling to survive,”.
An emotional Malope recalled her mother fleeing after a daily beating from her dad. She added she had to help financially, so she began working at the tender age of 11 on a tobacco farm.
When she was 13, she and her sister Cynthia ran away from home, because Cynthia wanted to join a music group in Ermelo.
However, she said when they arrived, they discovered Dan Nkosi had disbanded The Villagers. They knew they could not go back home, their father would be waiting for them with his heavy hand.
So, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, the two sisters hitched a ride to Joburg. There Malope and Cynthia lived with nine other people in a tiny apartment in Evaton near Vereeniging.
“We went to Gallo Records but we were rejected. Some musicians told me I should go back to school – I was only 14. My sister and I were starving and Jabu Sibumbe, who played bass for Stimela, gave us money for food. He was like a father to us. Even today, he’s like a father to me.”, she recalled.
However, Malope held on to the believe that there was purpose for all her suffering and God had a plan for her life.
“That’s why I always tell people who are experiencing hard knocks to never give up. Keep on pushing because you never know – your luck could be waiting just around the corner.”, she said.
Malope’s big break came in 1987, when she was just 19 years old, after she won the Shell Road to Fame TV music talent search.
She was named the best female vocalist with her cover of the song ‘Shine On’ in the best female vocalist category.
However, winning the competition did not mean an automatic record deal, she had to continue searching but she was later signed by Mike Fuller of Fuller Artists Management Enterprise.
Soon, the now famous singer released her first album, which was titled Sthembele Kuwe. After her success with her first album, she went to look for her mother, who she had not seen in years
She eventually tracked her down to an abandoned caravan near Witbank. “I took her in and bought her a three-bedroom house in Spruitview,’’ she recalled.
She then wanted to track down her father, which her mother was completely against. She recalled her mom asking why she would want to find the man that attempted to kill them both.
But, Malope explained to her mom that despite everything he had done to them, he was still her father.
She finally found her dad in 1990 in Nelspruit, but his health was deteriorating. “He told me he didn’t expect me to ever come back. He was sick so I took him back to Johannesburg and had him admitted to a private hospital.”
She built him a two-storey home in Nelspruit, where he could reside after being discharged. Malope added she also bought him a double-cab bakkie.
Sadly John passed away in 1996, the same year her brother died of a heart attack and her sister Cynthia was fatally shot by her boyfriend.
Losing three family members in one year was devastating, but Malope had to stay strong for those who were left behind.
Channel24 reported she adopted her sister’s three children, Zweli (now 37), Noluthando (now 29) and Thandeka (now 25).
Her life was no walk in the park, but despite everything that happened to her, she still praises the Lord for all the good things she experienced.
“I made peace with my father and I forgave him before he died. I’m a mother to three beautiful and wonderful children. I have a successful career and lovely homes. So I have no regrets.”
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