Lady D on 27 years of radio and plans for Mother's Day

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In her 27 year on radio, Dudu Khoza still feels young at heart.
In her 27 year on radio, Dudu Khoza still feels young at heart.
Rowyn Lombard/Media 24

She is the host of one of the biggest radio shows in the country.

Her voice is distinctive on Jabul’ujule with content producer Bakheke Mthethwa and technical producer Mandla Magcwaza on Ukhozi FM.

Dudu ‘Lady D’ Khoza is a living radio legend in the own right.

For 27 years, she has been an inspiration to millions of South Africans with her motivational talks and charismatic radio persona.

Lady D has also recently been chosen as one of the brand ambassadors for Telkom South Africa alongside Tumi Morake, Khutso Theledi, Leigh-Anne Williams, and Martelize Brink, Zizo Tshwete, Seipati Twasa Seoke, Selby Mkhize, and Brian Rikhotso.

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She has been on the radio for almost three decades but for her, every day feels like it’s her first day on air.

“I want to be like a Wilson B Nkosi or Mama ka Ma-Asi from Mhlobo Wenene. Radio is probably one of the few jobs where you can work forever. For me, every show and every slot feels brand new because I get to learn and change people’s lives every day,” Lady D says.

She recalls her earlier days on the radio and how nervous and intimidated she was.

“I came on the radio first as Sister Mildred from the department of health to advise people on health matters. My passion has always been about helping to empower the community and to empower women,” she says.

She believes what’s made her a favourite is her direct nature.

“I am very direct, outspoken and what you see is what you get. But what’s gotten me this far and gave me lasting power has been my love for people.” She speaks to everyone, taxi drivers, domestic workers, young students and businessmen, and women.

“I love that everyone can relate to me and never feel judged or looked down upon,” Lady D says. 

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She has interviewed icons from across the country, yet she remains grounded.

“What I do and say on air translates outside of my life. So, through my job, I became close to the wife of late Lady Smith Black Mambazo, David Tshabalala and when she passed on, I was asked to MC her funeral which was an honour for me,” Lady D says.

In 2007, when Lucky Dube passed on Lady D, who had once presented a reggae show and became close to the reggae star opened a trust fund for his family and children.

“Had it not been for my work, I would have never met Lucky Dube and become close friends with him. I would have never been able to start a trust fund for his family and kids for them to be taken care of financially and to live off the great music that he produced while he was still alive. So, my job extends further than just interviewing people on the radio. Helping people is my calling and who I am,” Lady D says. 

“It’s the small things that matter for me, how I speak to my listeners, what we teach each other daily, and knowing the power I have to change lives keeps me motivated,” Lady D says.

She has learned that although millions of people listen to her show, some may not like her, but she still needs to continue to educate.

“I have learned that not everyone will like you and the further up you go and become successful, you will experience resentment from people you do not even know at times," she says.

“I have also learned that I am also sensitive to criticism, I am a sensitive being and I have learned to understand and I pick constructive criticism.”

Many people look up to the broadcasting legend.

“I am truly humbled by people who wish I look up to so many people every day, even young people.”

Many might think she has achieved everything on her bucket list, but she still feels more can be done.

“I don’t know maybe one day I will leave Ukhozi or not. But since last year April, I have been broadcasting from home due to the lockdown. I am watching the future of radio unfold in front of me. I am young at heart and adapting to the changes. The fact that I can MC Sjava’s show as young as he is and still speak to older people, it means I’m doing something right and I can do more,” Lady D says.

This Sunday, unlike many mothers who will be receiving Mother’s Day breakfast in bed and lunches, Lady D will be hosting orphaned children at her home together with White Star and Pioneer foods for lunch.

“My birthday was in March but because of the lockdown, I was unable to celebrate it. This year, I am combining my birthday celebration with Mother’s Day to do what I love and that is to give back,” Lady D says.

In a weekend-long celebration, she will be donating food parcels with White Star and KFC to the homeless and treating the children to lunch at her home where she will read to them and they get to enjoy the day on jumping castles and playing games.

“Giving back and helping people brings me joy,” she says.

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