Dukuduku for life

2014-10-06 18:45

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Almost 20 years on, Selimathunzi is still one of the nation’s most loved TV shows. Siyabonga Sithole speaks to its creators and presenters?–?new and old?–?and reflects on an icon in the firmament of SA’s pop culture

Now that I’m older, I’ll go ahead and admit it. Growing up in a small town in KwaZulu-Natal, I secretly dreamt of becoming a famous kwaito producer, moving to Joburg and appearing on Selimathunzi.

Simunye, as SABC1 was known, grooved and Selimathunzi was on the decks. The TV show captured and drove the post-1994 youth culture revolution, making DJs, kwaito stars, bad girls and gay socialites the new celebrities.

A party wasn’t a party if the Selimathunzi cameras weren’t there. And you didn’t go to a party on a Saturday night without first watching Dosto Noge and Zam Nkosi bringing the bling at 6pm.

I relied on Selimathunzi to learn about the latest trends in music, fashion and red carpet events, and watched as the crew paid surprise visits to fans and gave us a peek inside new-school celebrities’ homes.


Selimathunzi appeared on our boxes in 1996, just two years into democracy, the same year as Top Billing. It turns 18 this year and can still be found listed in the top 10 of the TV ratings on most weeks. It boasts more than 3?million viewers.

The only other long-running shows still on air are the music game show Noot vir Noot, born in 1991, and the soapie Generations, born in 1994, although technically no longer on air.

This is no mean feat for a trendy show that focuses on passing fads.

A big part of the winning formula is the way the show has always connected with its viewers. It inspired me to dream big, care about my friends and family, and be a trendsetter. It blew Ezimtoti and other similar shows right out of the water.


The other part of the show’s success is its executive producer “Baby” Joe Correia.

Having worked on movies and music shows like Shell Road to Fame and Ezimtoti, Baby Joe was approached by the public broadcaster to put together a weekly magazine with a lifestyle, fashion and music theme.

Without thinking twice, Baby Joe took on the challenge.

I have met Baby Joe once or twice at social functions, but meeting him in person at his favourite hang-out spot in Melville, a stone’s throw from the studios in the same suburb, is a revelation of sorts.

Firstly, he keeps things simple. No designer outfits, just plain shirts, shorts and flip-flops. No yadda yadda, just straight talk.

He tells me Selimathunzi started out a bit awkwardly because there was no real pool of presenters to draw from. (This was before the Simunye continuity presenters took their hot seats.)

He eventually convinced Dosto Noge to hold the fort while he searched for quality presenters. He later got Zam Nkosi to jump ship from Shell Road to Fame.

Selimathunzi has always been synonymous with the word ‘dukuduku’, which means “keep bumping the fun”?–?a definition Noge had to come up with quickly to avoid being harassed by fans, who demanded an explanation of what it really meant.

“I might have made the word popular, but it was Baby Joe who came up with the payoff line in the studio while we were brainstorming one morning,” chuckles Noge when I ask him.

The mysteriously hip payoff line stuck and remains a big part of the show’s DNA. It even spawned the Duku Duku Awards.

Selimathunzi had luck on its side?–?the kwaito revolution of the early 1990s was happening and became grist to its mill. The show embraced kwaito when no other platform existed for the likes of Oskido, Skeem (Waar Was Jy?), Arthur Mafokate, Boom Shaka, Mdu Masilela and many others.

But that doesn’t explain its staying power after the kwaito bubble burst.

Baby Joe lights a cigarette and ponders my questions about Selimathunzi’s staying power and then says: “Look, the SABC is not stupid. If the show was not financially viable, out of touch with the audience and not bringing in the ad revenue, we would not be sitting here having this conversation.”

There’s a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes.


I get in touch with one of the show’s most famous presenters, Zam Nkosi, who spent three years holding the mic.

“What has made the show stand out is its ability to speak to, and mirror, the interests of its viewers, young and old. Unlike Jam Alley, Selimathunzi is not locked into a format and this is good because it has an array of unpredictable and diversified content to offer its viewers across generations.”

He says as long as the show keeps doing what it has been doing?–?reflecting current trends and appealing to the youth – there is no reason for the show not to continue for another 18 years.

Selimathunzi’s current presenters, Lunga Shabalala and Zizo Beda, reckon it is because people from different walks of life identify with the show and it is the “only show that involves its viewers” through celebrity dates, cookouts, guest presenting and having the presenters visit fans at their homes.

The presenters have been important to the magic of the show and each one has emerged as a star.

Baby Joe says as far as the presenters are concerned, he and his creative director, Joshua Modau, always go for quality and not the “tjatjarag ones” who are on the front pages of Sunday newspapers.

“For me, the presenter has to fit the show; the show must not fit the presenter.”


Whatever it is that has kept the show on air for this long, one thing’s for sure: it has managed to bring us the good and the bad without patronising us or making fools of its subjects.

Oskido’s “tipsy” interview with Noge became the talk of the town in the late 90s. Brenda Fassie’s traditional ceremony, her many performances and guest interviews are some of the show’s most remembered episodes. Her son, Bongani, rose to stardom that way. He appeared alone in studio at the age of 10. Later, there was an insert where Brenda basically bribed him, live on camera, with a bicycle, to do better at school.

MaBrrr trusted Baby Joe to hang out in her home. Those were the days of Romeo Kumalo and his colourful jackets; of Boom Shaka bumping and grinding live in studio, the audience screaming for more, the pom-pom girls strutting their stuff.

I ask Baby Joe about the famous Oskido interview and he says he almost lost his job when the tape went missing from the SABC’s archives.

A few weeks later, as I sit at the show’s SABC office watching archive tapes, Baby Joe mischievously shows me a 2001 calendar of the Simunye continuity presenters.

It started the naked calendar phenomenon with the likes of Zandi Nhlapo, Siphokazi January and Brian Ndevu posing nude, discreetly. Don’t be surprised to see this part of pop culture history being given away on Selimathunzi one of these days.


It has not been smooth sailing for the show with the introduction of rival shows and rival channels, having been relegated to Wednesdays and recently being moved to Tuesdays. All of this has required that it stays on top of current trends such as using social media to get viewers more involved.

Selimathunzi also saw the death of a unique presenting talent, Brown Matsime, who passed away in 2009. And one of its guest presenters, Jub Jub, is serving time in jail.

I guess it comes with the territory.

Over the years, live performances have made way for more social-scene reporting, cooking, fashion and red carpet appearances.

Baby Joe says: “We have had to change things a little and you might have noticed that. We have done away with the studio audience as it became too complicated with the DJ culture taking over. And we have managed to make it [the show] more accessible to our viewers by changing the way we do cooking.”

Kitchen visits have always been a big thing on Selimathunzi. “Now, instead of having a celebrity cook for us, we have decided to take the celebrity to the homes of their fans and cook?...?It is another way we try to include our viewers as much as we can.”


Baby Joe knows which side his bread is buttered.

“One thing we have done successfully is to connect with our viewers. It does not matter whether they’re rich or poor, rural or urban. We try to add value and put a smile on their faces. We might fail, but we try our best.”

It is Selimathunzi’s connection with ordinary people where the show has made its most impact.

The show has combined tradition and pop culture by helping young women snag celebrity matric dance partners and being the first port of call for young people and mothers who want to celebrate their children’s success, from 21st birthdays to weddings.

It may not be the fancy Top Billing stuff, but this is where the show gets it right with its audience?–?the balance between celebrity events and serving the needs of average South Africans.


The Brenda Fassie and Lebo Mathosa factor has been replaced by the Kelly Khumalo and Khanyi Mbau factor, but Fassie is still the queen of Selimathunzi.

“Interviewing Brenda was the easy part, but stopping her was the most challenging thing,” recalls Noge, speaking from Sedibeng College, where he works as campus manager.

Baby Joe says he is proud to have witnessed the transition of South Africa’s young “from being subservient to creating a youth culture where they have slowly taken the lead to become far more independent, self-assured and empowered”.

Every now and then, Selimathunzi pays tribute to fallen stars such as Brenda Fassie, Lebo Mathosa, TK, Jacob of Skeem, Tebza of Mafikizolo, Brown Matsime and others who influenced this country’s pop culture.

It believes this is one of the ways the pop culture machine can honour its own in life and in death.

Zam Nkosi, one of the best-loved presenters in Selimathunzi’s 18 year history. Picture: SABC1/Selimathunzi

2 famous fans


Speaking over the phone, the Kalawa founding member Oskido said: “Selimathunzi was one of the first TV shows that gave us a voice when even radio would not play our music.”

He said it was through consistency and being able to entertain viewers that a TV show could last this long in an industry where TV shows only lasted three years or less.


Khanyi Mbau told #Trending: “You must remember that growing up at the time, there was no Instagram, there was no Twitter. Watching Selimathunzi gave me the best of our celebrity news, fashion trends and red carpet events.

The likes of Lebo Mathosa, Zandi Nhlapo and Romeo Kumalo were celebrated through regular interviews on Selimathunzi, and through Selimathunzi those memories were captured and we were inspired.”

She reckons the reason the show has lasted this long is because the show constantly celebrates and creates its own stars when they are still alive and not when they are dead.

“People like me owe our success to the show, as it contributed to giving us exposure and a platform to grow as entertainers.”

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