“PEOPLE still call me Echo to this day, and I have no problem with it.”
These were the words of Syanda Manzi (40), from Sobantu, who became popular while growing up because he shares his birthday with the Echonewspaper.
Manzi would appear on Echo’s front page every year when the paper celebrated its birthday.
Echo is celebrating 40 years this year, having been established in June 1979, and Manzi also celebrated his 40th birthday this year.
Speaking to Echo, Manzi said the former and late editor of Echo, Khaba Mkhize, was responsible for putting him under the spotlight.
He said Mkhize approached his aunt and asked her to allow Manzi to appear in the paper for his birthday.
“Every time Echo celebrated its birthday, the Echo team would come and fetch me from home.
“I would spend a few hours at the Echo office with them and they bought cake, snacks and drinks. They also took pictures of me and I would appear in the next publication. When I started school, they would wait for me to finish and then fetch me to celebrate my birthday.
“I always knew that on my birthday I would have a cake and snacks,” said Manzi, laughing. He said it made him feel very special.
Manzi was even named “Echo” by elderly people in the area because he was like the face of Echo every year.
“Even now people still call me Echo, and the young generation ask me: ‘Why are you called Echo?’
“When Echo stopped celebrating its birthday every year, I thought my nickname would vanish but that was not the case. There are people who will always call me Echo, and I do not have a problem with it.”
Manzi said he does not remember a lot of things from his childhood but he does still have one picture of his birthday celebrations with Echo which he will always cherish as it holds a lot of memories from his personal life.
“When I was young I lived with my grandparents, who have passed on now, and my aunts. I remember how excited they would get when I was about to leave home for the Echo offices.
“Every time I look at the picture it reminds me of them and my aunt because she put me in touch with Khaba Mkhize when the birthdays were getting close,” he said.
Now, almost 40 years later, Manzi is a regular Echo reader. “I will always love Echo,” he said.
Editor’s note: Thank you for sharing this special story with us and our readers — from the team at Maritzburg Echo.