- Mkhulu Shipalana will be celebrating his 108th birthday later this year
- In 1937, he made history when he became the first black champion of ballet and ballroom dancing in South Africa
- Shipalana worked as a kitchen 'boy' for the Oppenheimers and is currently the headman of his rural village in Muhlava-Cross
PAY ATTENTION: Click “See First” under the “Following” tab to see Briefly.co.za News on your News Feed!
Many people may not have heard about Mkhulu Shipalana, but the madala has achieved some impressive milestones and definitely has a story to tell.
These days, the 107-year-old man serves as headman of his rural village, Muhlava-Cross, and still boasts incredible rhythm and balance for someone his age.
However, from 1937 to 1957, Shipalana made history when he became the first black champion of ballet and ballroom dancing in South Africa.
READ ALSO: Petition to lift ciggie ban garners more than 500k signatures
As a result of his experience, Shipalana started teaching dance classes for youngsters in his community.
The South African reported that he still has students coming to his home to practice ballet.
Shipalana explained how he got into dancing: “At 29 I got a job as the Oppenheimer’s family kitchen ‘boy’ in 1933. In Johannesburg, I found two of my village homeboys who taught me how to dance, but unlike them, I decided to take it further and enter competitions locally, after realising that I was mastering ballroom better than many.”
READ ALSO: Mosimane smiling about R65m payday at Sundowns: “I have earned it"
Due to apartheid and poverty, Shipalana would not have been able to excel on the global stage, but he revealed that the Oppenheimer family bought him clothes and arranged his international flight tickets.
Briefly.co.za learnt that Shipalana settled down and had two wives, as well as a German partner, Zelda, who lived with him.
He tragically lost his two wives at the age of 93, but vows not to remarry. Shipalana fathered 10 children with his wives.
Previously, Briefly.co.za reported that a woman, Simangele UmaMkhize Mthethwa, recently revealed that her grandfather turned 121 years old.
Her post caught the attention of thousands of South Africans who wished him a happy birthday.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY’s news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!