I am a direct product of three people in the professional acting space: David Ndjavera, Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong and Mervin Claasen. These people opened the door for me. These gentlemen accorded me a seat at the theatre and film table. These gentlemen embraced me at a time when the theatre and film space was limited to a few elites.
This is why David Ndjavera’s passing particularly hit me hard. Uncle D – as I would call him – was this giant of a man in the theatre and film space. This man saw it fit to spend hours grilling me, training me, moulding me into the acting product that I am today. Anyone who knew Uncle D, would know he rarely had time for anything. Uncle D was a busy man. The man managed the Theatre School, lectured, was busy with his tertiary qualifications, family and somehow still managed to be on sets around the country, either directing or acting.
So to think that a busy man – a man of his calibre – would spend so much as an hour with me was astonishing. It was a confidence booster...surely, I have something. I would always think to myself, “Uncle D would never spare time for something that was not worth his effort or stature”.
Uncle D was a man of action. Whenever I’d hit him with a proposal, he’d hit me back with “When do we get started?” Uncle D had no hesitation. He would take on a challenge and flawlessly deliver. His sheer professionalism with the craft rubbed off on me. As much as Uncle D was fun to be around...when it was time to work, he would turn into a beast! He had a no-nonsense and no-compromise attitude when it came to theatre and film. He demanded punctuality for rehearsals. He demanded of you to know your lines. He demanded of you to make notes, because he did not like repeating himself. He hated phones onset or during rehearsals. Uncle D, as a director, was a freaking hulk! Uncle D. as an actor...a monster!
I would get goose bumps watching Uncle D on set or in theatre.
“BRAIN POWER NISK...BRAIN POWER MAN” …That’s what he would say every time I’d forget a line during rehearsals. He hated scripts during rehearsals. He would give you one week (or less...lol) to master a script for a three-week production period before show night.
I would always get hotheaded when he would raise his voice at me. Little did I know he was preparing me for the world. Uncle D was preparing me for working environments that would demand way much more of me than good old theatre school. At one point, I could not understand why Uncle D would be so hard on me and uber professional. I mean, it’s just a theatre school play I would say. He would lose his mind whenever I’d say that “You are not performing for these people...you are auditioning for the world, NISK,” he would say.
His death hit me hard. My dream was always for Uncle D to witness the product he created. My dream was always for Uncle D, along with my other acting mentors, Uncle Jo (Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong) and Merv-man (Mervin Classen) to one day watch a Hollywood blockbuster movie that I star in. At least he got to see me win an award. He was so happy about that award (Best Actor-Simply You Magazine and Lifestyle Awards). That same night – on the phone – he said: “There’s more where that came from”.
My heart bleeds for the Ndjavera family as they also lost their mother, Ousi Helena. Thank you Uncle D. Go well. I will miss you. Just know that I will emulate your spirit every time I jump on a stage or on set.
Until the next Loop, we say #GMTM
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