How to Spread It: Winnie Modise

2013-10-14 08:00

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In the popular soapie Generations, she is everyone’s favourite villain who would do anything to save her own skin, including committing murder.

For the community of Engodini village in Eshowe, northern KwaZulu-Natal, where Bawinile Ntshaba (now better known as Winnie Modise), who plays the role of Khethiwe Ngcobo in the soapie, grew up, she has been a catalyst of excitement and something of a show impresario.

She may be in the headlines for the drama around her Royalty Soapie Awards, but one event everyone is thrilled with happens in the village every Christmas.

The village, which is sleepy for most of the year, suddenly springs to life.

Old women take on their makotis (daughters-in-law) in a football match, sons square up with their fathers, and old grannies take to the catwalk and strut their stuff.

What started out as her idea, which she funded from her own pocket, has become an annual fixture in the village every festive season.

For many in the village, the plate of food, drinks and sweets are all the festive cheer they will have, as poverty runs rampant in the community.

The idea, Modise says, is to bring the community together.

It is the only time when everybody is back from the cities to be with families.

It is her way of giving back to her community.

It was not the only time Modise had involved herself in making life for communities in her province a little more bearable.

In 2009, then KwaZulu-Natal premier Sibusiso Ndebele presented her with an award for patriotic contribution to a relief campaign for helping build houses for flood victims in Pietermaritzburg.

But she’s not just about cleaning up once the damage is done.

Modise, who accidentally collided with the idea that one could study speech and drama in her matric year, has also lent her considerable stature to a project to travel around her home province’s schools teaching young pupils about the wide range of career possibilities.

What are you currently involved with?

Together with my friends (and fellow TV stars) Dudu Khoza and Sophie Ndaba, we are collecting some of our outfits that we cannot wear again because, as you know, the media loves lashing out at us for wearing the same outfit twice.

We will be donating these to girls for their matric dances.

It (matric dance season) can be demotivating for girls who do not have something pretty to wear but who cannot afford a nice outfit for what is possibly one of the most important nights of their young lives.

What do you say to the comment that you are doing this just to enhance your own profile?

A lot has been written and said about me that is hurtful and not true. I have learnt to remain strong and ignore it.

I guess it comes with the territory of being in show business.

What matters to me is that people who know the real Winnie know whether I truly care. For me that is all that matters.

What is definite, though, is that I have been involved in community work long before I was on Generations.

How has being ‘Kethiwe’ helped or hindered you in your work?

It has given me the confidence to knock on doors knowing that even if I do not get what I am asking for, at the very least the door will be opened and at least what I have to say will be listened to.

Why do you do what you do?

As a Christian, I know that blessed is the hand that gives more than it takes.

It gives me great satisfaction to see a smile on the face of someone whose life has been made better by our efforts. It is what ubuntu is about.

I believe God blessed me so that I could be a blessing to others.

I believe that South Africa could be a better place if we all remembered those less fortunate than ourselves and did whatever little we could with what we have, even if it is one person at a time.

»?This series is developed in partnership with the Southern Africa Trust

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