This story was published in 2018.
His personality is so vibrant it practically leaps out of the airwaves. And he’s so beloved, flamboyant and full of life he gets to play himself in one of the most popular shows on TV. Selby Mkhize aka Selbeyonce is hitting several career high notes. The 29-yearold had his big break in Generations: The Legacy and plays himself in Uzalo. But it’s his 3-6pm slot on Ukhozi FM that’s made him a firm fan favourite.
It’s also the reason he’s joining the ranks of Mzani’s hottest celebs – he’s been nominated for a DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice award for best radio personality. He’s delighted to be chosen by the public alongside radio vets Anele Mdoda and DJ Fresh for the award, but his happiness is tinged with sadness and longing.
Selbeyonce, who is openly gay, wishes his partner could witness his success. In an exclusive interview with DRUM the radio host and actor reveals a well of sadness behind his larger-than-life personality. He’s opening up about losing the man he’d hoped to marry. “I don’t know if I can love again,” he says. He met his late partner, Sipho Maluleka, after a friend picked him up at Joburg’s OR Tambo Airport in 2015.
“My friend took me to a house session and I spotted him, all quiet and reserved, in the corner.” As the drinks started flowing Sipho mustered the courage to speak to Selbeyonce and asked him on a date. “He said let’s go out for lunch tomorrow. I was playing hard to get.”
But that didn’t stop Sipho, who worked in finance, from pursuing him. A few months later the two were dating and madly in love. “Funny thing is, Sipho didn’t know I was famous.”
After dating for a year, marriage was on the cards, Selbeyonce told DRUM. “I love my partner and I’d like to get married some day and have my own family,” he said at the time (Radio’s perfect pair, 21 January 2016).
But his dream of marrying his “amazing and kind” lover was dashed when Sipho was killed in a car crash in January this year. Selbeyonce had spoken to Sipho (29), who’d been driving his grandmother on an errand, two hours before the tragedy. “All of a sudden I got a call saying he had died on the spot.”
It’s been nine months since he lost the love of his life and Selbeyonce is still picking up the pieces. “I’d never been loved like that. I was his first gay lover. He knew his sexuality. He said he wanted to express it with someone he really loves and that was me.”
Sipho made Selbeyonce feel beyond special. “He sent me a text once asking me where I’d been all his life and that he couldn’t go a day without talking to me.” Moving on is tough, he adds. “Sometimes I wake up and I drive to where he had the accident.
It took me a long time to delete his number from my phone. I go through his Facebook profile often. I cry and I talk to him.” He also knows all the roads that lead to Sipho’s grave in the North Coast. “I drive to his grave and park at the graveyard.”
There he asks God to protect Sipho wherever he is. Sipho’s death, Selbeyonce says, “opened old wounds from my mother’s death”. He lost his mom, Zandile Mkhize (42), in 2013 before his career kicked off.
“I remember her collecting posters from DRUM and sticking them on our walls, telling me I would one day be on them.” Zandile had been in and out of hospital for a few years battling TB. Her son had just started working at Ukhozi FM as a volunteering contributor on Saturdays when she was hospitalised for the last time. “Having to tell my siblings and my grandmother she had died was heartbreaking,” he recalls. Selbeyonce and his siblings, brother Skhumbuso (25) and sister Ayanda (24), were raised by their mother and their gogo, Agnes Mkhize, after his parents split. His father, Sipho Gina, passed away last year from an unknown illness. According to Sipho’s family, he fathered 17 children.
“I’ve met about five or six of my father’s kids, but I’m never shocked when I get a message from someone saying they’re also his child.” He’s not one to judge, he says. “My siblings and I all have different fathers. My mother had us when she was still a teen.”
He wishes his mom could see now. “I was just starting to understand what homosexuality was. Although I never dated any girls I just couldn’t grasp the concept. “When I understood who I was my mom was learning to understand it too, but then she passed away.
Growing up in the farm environment of Amaouti, Verulam, in the north of KwaZulu-Natal, Selbeyonce says it took time to accept his sexuality. “I didn’t want to be called names and bullied. I kept it to myself.
Nobody wants to be gay-bashed, but knowing I was gay felt so good.” He came out to his grandmother first. He’d finished matric, he recalls with a smile, and Agnes wanted to address the elephant in the room.
“The sneaky old lady asked my neighbour to ask me what was going on – am I gay or not?” Tired of hiding, he came clean. “I never felt so good in life. I said, ‘Yes, yes, yes – I love boys’. My grandmother cried and said she’d support me and never allow anyone to discriminate against me.” Coming out gave him the confidence to flourish.
He’d known since primary school which career path he wanted to take. “School contests, speech contests, spelling quizzes and competitions – I was there. But obviously no sport for me!” Selbeyonce, christened Lungisani Selby Mkhize, believes he was born to be a star – hence his stage name.
“My friends and I grew up loving Destiny’s Child,” he says. Naturally, all his friends wanted to be labelled the leader or “the Beyoncé” – but there could only be one. “My friends and I had a competition. We took our names and added Beyoncé’s name at the end or in the middle and asked people to vote for the best-sounding name. I was very talkative so I could sell myself. I was the loudest in the group and I could sing.”
But Selbeyonce “obviously won because my name sounded better”, he laughs. It’s a name we’re sure will ring on radio for years to come.