BBMzansi winner Mphowabadimo on breaking stereotypes about sangomas in the Big Brother house

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Michelle Mavundla, popularly known as Mphowabadimo.
Michelle Mavundla, popularly known as Mphowabadimo.
  • Mphowabadimo has made history by being the first woman to win Big Brother Mzansi.
  • She won the grand prize of R2 Million, which she has big plans for.
  • Being a Sangoma, her mission was to use the platform to break stereotypes.

After three seasons, Daveyton-born Mphowabadimo – whose real name is Michelle Mavundla – has made history by becoming the first woman to win the South African version of the Big Brother franchise.

Walking away with the grand prize of R2 Million on Sunday, 3 April 2022, the 27-year-old tells TRUELOVE that she’s very excited and  grateful to her supporters who stood by her every week.

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“I’m happy and I receive the win with grace because being a millionaire at 27 is not something I would’ve imagined. I would have never done this alone but I did it because of the people that believed in me and supported me. To me, getting the money was just a ‘thank you for being stubborn in that house’,” she says.

“Being in that house was hectic I don’t want to lie. Growing up I watched the show and was so obsessed with it but I thought it was something different and that I’d have fun every day but once I was in there, I realised that it wasn’t so easy,” she adds.

Although times got hectic for Mphowabadimo in the house, she reveals that allowing herself to feel every emotion and to cry helped her to cope in the house. Mpho also shares that the person she was closest to in the house, Nthabii, pushed her and kept her sane.

“Nthabii and I’s friendship started while Dinky was still in the house. We weren’t very close because everyone thought she was a wild one and I was also hesitant to trust her but when Dinky left, her and I started to speak more and it was very refreshing to speak to someone who was not reflecting on the game. Our conversations were very fluid and I liked her personality and how beautiful she is. We spoke a lot and I fell in love with her as we were getting closer.

“She’s amazing, a team player and is straightforward, which is something I appreciate about her. She came into the house at a time where I was kind of letting go and she kind of forced me to get back up and really pushed me,” she admits.

Apart from Nthabii, Mpho says she does not wish to pursue a friendship with any of the other housemates because “housemates are an older chapter of who I was and carrying that into a new chapter will create weird dynamics that I do not want in a friendship,” she says.

On what she believes caused such a love/hate relationship between herself and Libo, the winner of season three describes their relationship as a spiritual one and believes that’s why they clashed so much.

“Spiritually we clashed and there was no balance. There was also a little bit of disrespect and undermining from him, which didn’t sit well on my side. And once I heard from Gash 1 about what Libo was planning, things took a turn for the worst. We’d fight everyday and things became toxic.

“When I decided that it was best for us to not be in each other’s spaces, I then saw him become a better version of himself and I also pushed to be better because I didn’t come to the house to be couple goals or create a hashtag about him and I,” she emphasises.

Being a Sangoma by profession, Mphowabadimo could not really perform some of the rituals she’d do on a daily basis while in her own space but says she’d sometimes find a way to incorporate her spiritual life with the lifestyle in the house.

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“I had to understand that this is who I am outside of the house and I can’t fake that because I’m in the house. So, I’d create my own concoctions if I needed to uk’phalaza (clean her system) after binge drinking. I’d also navigate things like snuff (smokeless tobacco) and had to explain myself a couple of times about it not being potent. I was being myself but there are obviously a lot of sacred elements that I could not display because those are part of the inner me when I’m isolated with iDlozi,” she explains.

One of her goals going into the Big Brother house was also to break the stereotypes surrounding traditional healers.

“I broke the stereotype by being a Sangoma that puts on lashes every day, has long nails and changes wigs all the time, has fun at the parties and likes things. At times I’d have to be naked around men and shower in front of the men and I think those are the things that showed that I’m human before I’m a Sangoma.

“I was also a teenager at some stage and nothing has changed apart from the fact that I have a gift that I walk with. I am human at the end of the day and I do everything the youth does and shouldn’t be isolated from that but I am aware that my fun can only come in doses. In the house I got to experience a lot of those doses and I enjoyed myself because it was the first time I really let loose,” she says.

And if you’re wondering what she’ll be doing with the money, Mpho says she’ll go back to her vision board to tick off some of her accomplishments and decide on what’s next. But one thing she does want to pursue is to continue working for her money and says he will do this by studying a course in acting.

“I would love to study acting or something similar because I don’t want to disrespect the people in the industry and to have them feel like I’m only receiving the opportunity because I was on Big Brother. I’m ready to learn and get the practice I need. I’ve always been a presenter at heart but I’ve always felt that being a Sangoma limits you, however, I now believe that my dreams are valid and can now break that stereotype,” she concludes.

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