Saturday, 11 February 2017

Bongani Zikalala: A true story of success.

He left a little village of Mayflower in Mpumalanga without knowing anyone in the city of gold (Johannesburg); packed his bags and moved to live his dream. One thing for sure, he was more determined not to give up on his dream of making it to the peak than giving up settling for less.

One out of a family of six, understood that the struggle of a man begins at birth and that being born into a middle-class family must not but encourage him to put his nose to the grindstone and aim for the best.

His journey to a new life in Johannesburg is not different from many of us who left everything
behind. It was hectic, it was painful, it was full of loneliness and spending many nights without food and a place call home.

What’s amazing is how Bongani, against all odds turned his ups and downs to his favour becoming the current general manager  of Hillbrow Radio Station.

Braamfontein Alive is happy to announce that we spent quality time with Mr. Zikalala out of his tight schedule to share his true success story with us and below is our discussion:

Q. Can you introduce yourself?

A. My names are Bongani Zikalala. I’m a general manager of Hillbrow Radio Station, a radio presenter and an MC of events.

Q. Can you share your family background?

A. I’m from a middle-class family. My dad was the only one working and we are six with two older sisters, one younger brother and myself. My mum is not working.

Q. Can you share your educational background?

A. I attended Tisiteni Primary School in Mpumalanga and I continued to attend Mpuluzi High School and that’s where I found my love and discover my talent for what I do today. I was a leader of a debate committee in my high school days. I was outspoken and my cousin was the president of the school and we used to debate and discuss across different subjects most especially politics and general knowledge.

Q. Can you tell us your journey into city of gold (Johannesburg)?

A. After matriculation from high school, I stayed at home a year after being turned down at various universities because I couldn’t afford both application and school fees.

But after a long time of thinking I decided to move to Johannesburg in 2007 even though I knew nobody. I had no place to stay and I remember vividly; the sun was going down and I was alone with my bags when I arrived at East Gate train
station. I spent two weeks staying around the station and one afternoon I saw a poster saying “ Poetry Section”. The event was at Market Laboratory in Newtown.

I had a small book with me that contains my written work. That very day, I was spotted Mthusi; who later took me to his house in Soweto. I stayed there for six months without coming to Johannesburg because I had no fare. It was a six-month of hard study and starving.

Later as time goes by, I found a job on a RDP house construction projects and I worked for two weeks. When I got my salary I moved to Emmarentia Park.

Q. When was your turning point?

A. There was this night, it was raining and I was under this big tree and in the morning I went back to the park and the sun came down and later again rain started. I was crying and telling God to take my life as I can’t take it no more!

Later that afternoon, sun came out and I stayed under it to dry up and I saw this white man; who came to me saying “ he had a word from the Lord for me!” He share some bible verses with me in the park and ended it with a prayer session. He later took me his place and I stayed there for three months and right there I applied for various job positions and finally I got  a job from Provantage Media. I was doing out-door promotions. Then I picked all my pieces; got myself a place in Hillbrow and from there life has been so good!

Q. Why did you go into media?

A. I always love communication. I have a great passion for life and people. I have love for words and how they translate to life. I saw it as a medium of realizing my passion.

Q. Can you tell us how you from your series of odd jobs to your passionate media industry?

A.  It was not an easy decision to make. Before I make decision, I always prepare myself in terms of research about my so to become new job, attend workshops, I ask people that are already in the industry questions and so on.

Q. How did you come about Hillbrow Radio?

A. I was at this gambling company- sports bets. I started there as a cleaner and I was later promoted to be a teller but inside of me I was not happy even though my salary was increased.

I continue with my prayer about my move into media. So one day I was taking a walk after my routine work and I saw these painters painting a building and drawing with a description on it “HILLBROW RADIO”. I knew right there that that is the opportunity that I have been waiting for.

I went into the building after some few days to ensure about a position and the radio station manager to me about an opportunity and I applied for it and the following day I received a call that I got a day slot from 12-2pm, every Monday to Friday. So I resigned from the gambling job.

Q. How challenging did you find your dream job?

A.  First of all, It was not what I expected it to be. And there was a lot of hard work that needed to be put into it.

Q. How did you move from a  radio presenter to a station manager and now to a general manager?

A. Whenever I’m at work, I’m always outspoken with lots of ideas regarding the job. 

One day, the CEO, came to me and he said: “I love your idea and what about you become the radio station manager for a week and we will take it from there?!”

At first, it was hectic; it was as if I was baptized in a lake of fire. I managed to attend all the meetings and implement most of my ideas and brought many stars in to the station for interviews within a week and this finally increased the listening traffics of our radio station.

Later our original station manager returned from a month leave and I was asked to continue on that new position while he was given a new responsibility within the station. 

Through commitment and persistence I moved from being a radio presenter only but with more responsibility as a radio station manager. So I kept on coming with more fresh ideas, implementing them and today I’m the general manager.

Q. How can our readers follow you ?

A.  My show is called: Exclusive Mzansi and is from 12-2pm from Monday till Friday.

You can listen to it via: or download the podcast at Google Play Store.

You can reach me via the following:

Office: 011 025 1915.

Cell: 071 785 8741.


Facebook: Bongani Zikalala.

Twitter: @bonganizikalala

Before we could conclude on our interview with the final question of where he sees him in the next five years he received a call that his attention is needed at the station. No doubts he’s a great leader in his own rights.

By Olagunju, Success Taiwo.

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