Feeling the love

By Drum Digital
20 October 2010

WHO COULD forget Joyous Celebration’s lead singer Ntokozo Mbambo’s grand entrance at her wedding two years ago? She arrived in a chopper, dressed in an imported French dress, and made her way to a lavish ceremony followed by a reception fit for a queen.

All she wanted was to arrive on the first day of the rest of her life in a classy Rolls Royce. But her father wanted the very best for her – if she was to be given away, it would have to be in style. And her hubby, fellow Joyous Celebration member Nqubeko Mbatha (30), couldn’t agree more. After all, he’d surprised her with a ring and a matching necklace and earrings when he popped the question.Today Ntokozo’s parents, Jabula and Nonhle Mbambo, can rest assured their little girl is in good hands. Umkhwenyana is taking care of their baby at home and at work.

They’ve come a long way since they started out with Joyous Celebration in 2001 when Ntokozo (now 24) was still in her teens. She’s gone from being a member of the choir to being the lead singer, voice coach and song writer, and she’s also planning her third solo album. All while producing her husband’s first solo offering.

Nqubeko has had a similar route. He started out in Joyous Celebration as a third keyboard player and is now a producer not only of Joyous Celebration but also of Ntokozo’s solo projects and other gospel musicians. And he and his wife also co-own a recording company with Joyous Celebration founding member Lindelani Mkhize.

“Now we’ve been with Joyous longer than anyone besides the founding members,” Nqubeko says. “We were just kids when we started at Joyous – I was only 15,” laughs Ntokozo as she has her make-up done.

The two chat away happily in our studio, like a couple very much at ease with each other. She’s dressed in a knee-length denim skirt, a summer cotton top and flat sandals while he’s in a pair of jeans and All Star sneakers. They share private jokes, give each other high fives every now and then and spend much of the shoot laughing.

ONE OF the things that gets them laughing is remembering how awkward it was when they first moved in together after their wedding.

“When I decided to marry Ntokozo I got a place of my own and lived alone for about a year. Then she moved in and took over! Now it’s not my house any more, it’s her house,” he teases and his wife gasps and slaps his arm playfully.

“Marriage has been great so far, lots of fun and no regrets,” she adds with a giggle. Nqubeko says he adjusted to married life quickly. “It helped that I’d made up my mind – there were no doubts,” he says.

But it wasn’t that easy for Ntokozo. She says she had to go through a mind-shift before she could say she was settled as a married woman.

“As a Zulu girl with a conservative Christian upbringing, it was hard,” she says. “All my life I was taught to stay away from guys and never expose myself to a man but now all of a sudden I must be comfortable with undressing in front of Nqubeko.”

But her five bridal showers were a good start. “Yes, the women there really helped me! They made sure I didn’t just jump into the deep end with no knowledge or advice. The pre-marital counselling also helped.

“So I came into this with my mind prepared and eyes open, and I knew that marriage doesn’t end after the wedding – that’s when it starts.”

Read the full article in DRUM of 28 October 2010

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