Almost two years since Metro FM newsreader Melanie Bala and kwaito maestro Zwai Bala publicly confirmed their separation in a joint statement, the subject is still a no-go area.
But the radio personality has put the past behind her.
The 46-year-old doesn’t want to talk about her divorce, but about the two most important people in her life – her 12-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter.
She is also open to sharing how she suffered from depression.
“I really don’t want to talk about my divorce – it’s a personal matter, my kids are old enough to read and it is my responsibility to protect them,” she says.
Melanie says “as parents, teaching our kids resilience is the only thing in life that will see them through”.
“As parents we carry a lot and we need to show our kids that we are far from being perfect. Sometimes we go through life challenges and we struggle with certain things.”
I am a bit nervous as I don’t know what to expect when we meet for breakfast on Thursday morning because she has always been a private person.
When asked how she has been, she responds with a grin and says: “I am happy and content.”
Last Saturday Melanie was one of the co-hosts at the SA Music Awards (Samas) in Sun City and she shared the stage with her long-time fellow co-host, Bob Mabena.
It was clear the two still have a strong on-screen chemistry.
Melanie was the talk of the town after the event. Folks said how gracefully she was ageing and that she was the best-dressed on the night.
“The first time I met Bob, we literally clicked. Working with him last weekend reminded me of 25 years ago when we worked together at Studio Mix. Before the show [the Samas], we spoke for almost two hours, catching up on so many things. That’s how close we have always been,” she says, adding that she still keeps in touch with her old friends, such as entertainment personality Glen Lewis.
Last year she posted on Instagram a throwback picture of herself on the set of Live Amp – she and Mabena had been invited to host an episode.
Maybe it’s about time she considered more TV jobs? She says she’s not sure if this is the route she would like to take.
“I’ve been with Metro FM for almost 16 years and I just love what I do. It is only recently that I am thinking what other business ventures I can pursue.
“But times have changed. These days you don’t need TV to drive topics that are relevant to society. You can create content from your smartphone. That’s the power of social media.”
Although she doesn’t want to talk about her divorce, she is open to talk about her mental disorder, which she suffered before she became a mother.
“Again, when my daughter was born, I was diagnosed with post-natal depression. At least this time around, I was lucky to recognise it, because I was now aware of the signs.”
Last year she opened up about suffering from depression.
She said on Instagram that she was previously on antidepressants and had been undergoing therapy to help deal with two significant life events – the death of her father and her divorce from Bala, whom she had been with for 17 years.
Her post read: “What you don’t see is the exhaustion and sadness. My marriage was over, my father had died. I was in therapy, on antidepressants, barely sleeping and crying every single day. I hid it all very well except to those very close to me.”
Melanie says her passion is to drive, encourage and normalise mental health conversation. She says suffering from a mental health disorder is not something one should be embarrassed about.
“Even those people you think have got it all, many also suffer from depression,” she says.
Her advice to those who are suffering from a mental disorder is this: “Each journey is different. I went to seek some professional help. Depression used to be taboo and people were scared to open up, but at least now we’ve seen a lot of people coming out.”
Then it’s time to leave. Before she rushes back to work, she says: “Life wasn’t meant to be perfect. Life wasn’t meant to be easy, but we move on and live. Life is guaranteed to be hard, but here we are still standing.”
Yes, indeed, she is still standing and going strong, confident and content.