In the last episode of Mzansi Magic drama Umkhokha, Nobantu - played by Kwezi Ndlovu - commits suicide by drinking poison after suffering from depression.
This follows the ups and downs of her relationship with her mother Mamzombe, played by Deli Malinga.
Kwezi tells Drum that portraying Nobantu was challenging but therapeutic.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy. There is not a single production in the world that is just easy. But once we started shooting, things went smooth. The team was united, and it was a pleasure coming to work,” she says.
In a post on social media, she thanked the cast, crew, and fans who loved and understood Nobuntu. Kwesi says she gave the role her all.
“And it’s a bow out from me. I cannot even express how I feel right now,” she says.
“To the viewers, the lovers of Umkhokha, angazi kumele ngiqale ngithini kunina (I don’t know where to start). Thank you so much for the love you guys have shown uNobuntu and myself. You guys have been so attentive and followed her journey right through to the end, you guys have engaged and asked questions in my DMS and the live videos that I do, and even when you guys see me in public. You guys have fought for her and wished her well. I’m truly amazed and eternally grateful for the love you have shown,” she says.
She thanks the hard-working cast and crew of Umkhoka.
“You guys trusted me so much with this role, even when I felt I couldn’t do it, even when some things were triggers, so much unity. You guys would hold my hand and tell me I can do it, tell me to reach that place I needed to get to, you guys would help me debrief after hectic scenes where I felt emotionally tired and felt I couldn’t continue,” she says.
Kwezi’s first role on the small screen was that on Vivian, a nightclub manager on Isithembiso before joining The Herd, Rockville, and Housekeepers.
“I started acting on a telenovela and that allowed me to build my character through time. But with drama, you have two months to create an entire life, a journey, and be present. The biggest challenge on Umkhokha was to try and execute a lifetime in two months,” she says.
“I needed to really get into it, and I did. When I look at it on screen, the emotions feel so real and they gel,” she says.
Nobuntu suffered depression because of her stern mother, and Khwezi used her personal experience with depression to help portray Nobuntu.
Kwezi lost her father in December 2020 after he was murdered.
“My father’s death is a long story that I don’t want to get into. But this year has been very blurry for me, and I don’t know how I’ve pulled through. I decided to take it one day at a time,” she says.
“With Nobuntu, I was called to face some personal truths and deal with them in my own life.”
The actress, who comes from Clermont in KwaZulu-Natal, says she had always known she had depression but did not realise to what extent.
“I didn’t know how deep it was and how many layers of it had. But getting into the role helped me realised the depth. It helped me to talk to myself, to be vulnerable, cry my heart out and be true to Nobuntu that I lose myself completely, and it helped me to deal with my own issues. As crazy as it sounds, losing Kwezi to portray Nobuntu helped me find Kwezi.”
After her father’s passing, she put some of her issues aside and dealt with life day to day.
“I had decided to store my issues in the back of my mind and when I joined Umkhokha I was forced to address them and let them out,” she says.
“Nobuntu’s character was a constant reminder of what was going on in my personal life and she helped me to deal with the passing of my father. It was incredibly therapeutic. Nobuntu helped Khwezi and the other way around.”
She is not yet sure about her next move, but she is aiming for a big international role.
“I don’t really know what is next, but I have done quite a several auditions. I am throwing it out to the universe that I want an international project, but I leave that to God,” she says.
This festive season she plans to spend time with the family.
“Family dinners, braais and we have a new member to the family, it will be my niece's first Christmas, so I will be playing aunt. But mostly enjoy time out, we have worked hard the whole year and rest is much needed,” Kwezi says.