A recent health scare has prompted kwaito singer L’vovo to rethink his lifestyle and decide to get fitter and leaner in 2019.
The music is pounding and the dance floor is heaving to the infectious beat of Iyavaya, L’vovo Derrango’s sensational hit. The kwaito star is drenched in sweat as he moves to his own music, trying to ignore the growing pain in his chest and neck.
He shrugs it off – after all, this isn’t a carefree Saturday night out. This is his job and club 033 Lifestyle in Pietermaritzburg is the 39-year-old musician’s workplace for the night. So he carries on dancing but the pain is becoming unbearable – and now he’s struggling to breathe. This is it, he thinks – I’m going to die here tonight, in this nightclub.
“I was very scared,” he says. “I was in so much trouble I had to stop performing.” The heavyset star says thoughts of his children, Sibanisethu Ndlovu (10) and Khwezi Ndlovu (6), and his mom Thokozile swirled through his head. “I decided then and there I wasn’t going to give up.” His entourage wanted to take him to hospital but L’vovo refused – hospitals terrify him and he was afraid if he went in he’d never come out.
Instead he promised his friends he’d see his doctor first thing the next day. Which he did after spending the night tossing and turning in distress. The doctor had good and bad news for him. The good news was he wasn’t dying. The bad news was he could be in serious trouble if he didn’t start taking care of himself. And that included making serious lifestyle changes.
The thought that death’s cold grip was settling on his chest was enough to make L’vovo (real name Thokozani Ndlovu) determined to listen to his doctor. Before that November night he had always been comfortable with his weight but he knows now he needs to do something about the way he lives his life. Not only does he want to make sure he’s around to see his children grow up, he also has so much more to do professionally, including acting and radio presenting.
“I’ve been overweight since childhood and it never bothered me much growing up,” he tells us. “But in the past few years I started having health problems. I consulted various doctors and they said my body cannot support my weight anymore. “That night at the club was the first time I ran out of breath though. It means I mustn’t dance too hard because my body can’t take it.”
The kwaito star intends to see a dietician, following a healthy eating plan and joining the gym.
“I will start eating healthily and getting more rest.” He’s tried to lose weight before, he says, but his hectic schedule often got in the way.
Taking a bit of a back seat from work is going to be difficult, L’vovo says. “I’m a workaholic and the nature of my job demands I overwork myself.” Because of his crammed calendar it’s easy to just fill up on junk food but he knows he has to rein himself in. “This is a matter of life and death so I have to commit, I have to be disciplined. “It feels like I’ve been given a second chance and I can’t blow it.
L’vovo knows he’s not getting any younger. This year the self-proclaimed kwaito legend turns 40. “And this means I need to invest time in myself and my kids. I need to work even harder to secure their future. This is why I’m leaving all my bad habits behind.” He’s hoping things will go from strength to strength for him professionally too.
“I deserve a lifetime achievement award,” he says. “When I say this I’m not being cocky or comparing myself to anyone but I declare myself a kwaito legend because I’ve made great contributions to the KwaZulu-Natal music scene. “I’m the game-changer, I’m the one who introduced Durban kwaito music, which is a genre on its own. I’ve won all the important awards, including best artist [from Metro FM in 2007]. I have no one left to impress but my fans.
Then there are the other skills he wants to develop. “Those include acting and presenting. I’m a man of many talents and I intend to use all of them,” he says confidently. “Musically I’m doing well, and as a matter of fact I will be releasing a 10-track album next year. I have no doubt it’s going to be a hit simply because I’ve worked with other artists, including Zakes Bantwini, Kwesta and Mpumi.” He’s no newcomer to acting either, having appeared in Uzalo a few years ago as Uncle Mandla.
His character is still in prison, and L’vovo hopes he’ll make a comeback one day. In the meantime though, he’s in a drama series set to air next year. He won’t share too much about it apart from saying it “revolves around hostel life, culture and its people”. “My role isn’t big but I’m giving it my all because I want to pursue acting as a career. My dream is to become one of the leading actors in the country. I believe I have what it takes and I’m prepared to go the extra mile for it.”
He’s also planning on breaking into radio as a presenter. “If I wasn’t making music I’d be a radio presenter. I know I have a voice for it. Next year I’ll be sending demos to radio stations asking for a job. I believe I’d be good for an afternoon drive show.” L’Vovo isn’t just making plans on the professional front – he also hopes to get married in 2020.
He won’t say who the lucky lady is but does reveal his lobola account “is ready”. “But I don’t want to rush things. We’ve been dating for a year and I think she’s the one.” And by the time he gets married, he vows, he’ll be a lean, mean machine.