You saw her at the Metro FM Awards #MMA16 a few weeks ago. You may have even judged her but do you know her story? The Education Ambassadors SA recently caught up with Nonhlanhla ‘Skolopad’ Qwabe. Read her story below.
I am a Mother, Nurse and an Artist. I grew up in Qwaqwa in a village called Letsha-Le-Maduke where I attended school and went on to complete my Grade 12 at Beacon Secondary School. I am the second child in my family with one younger brother, Tholinhlanhla. We were raised by a single parent being my mother.
One of my greatest challenges was falling pregnant at a young age of 17 while I was still a learner. I must admit that being a mother and a learner at the same time, was not a simple task. However, my motivation to want to succeed and flourish inspired me to push even harder until I completed my Grade 12. I then went on to study Nursing in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal and received an opportunity to work as a Moonlighter. In December 2008, my employers offered me a permanent contract and the rest is history. To date, I live with my child and I can tell you now that being raised by a single mother helped me a great deal as I learnt a lot from my mother. When my relationship of five years didn’t work out, I immediately wanted to take responsibility of raising my child and it was a breeze to be a responsible parent because I had learnt from my mother.
Being single created an opportunity to want to pursue my dreams and desires and that’s when I created the brand ‘Skolopad’ (for independent and strong women). ‘Skolopad’ means Tortoise. I chose this name because I admire its characteristics. A tortoise is independent, it is slow and doesn’t rush, it is a self-defender and when you step on it, it can be quite dangerous.
We launched the brand in August 2013 with my two friends, Phumla, Phindy and me. My two friends focused on the cooking aspect of the brand on weekends while I sold my caps and T-Shirts. I also danced at a local car wash until my child told me in 2014 to start dancing to my own music. She then wrote a song for me called, Tloboneng. I approached a music producer, Kenny Dlamini who produced and recorded the song. My God! Tloboneng worked for me and people also love and enjoy it.
This is really where the journey started. I looked for dancers and taught them Spantsula and tweaked the dance moves to make them a little bit more feminine. It was only a matter of time until society called us distasteful names and judged us. This also led to losing some of my dancers and it would have been difficult to keep them as I could not afford to pay them salaries. Although it was a difficult time for the ‘Skolopad’ brand, I am grateful for a child that didn’t give up. She continued to write songs. I approached another producer called, Maqabe and asked him to produce a song called, Umzimba and many others. My child absolutely loved it!
Fast forward to life after my struggle days, a number of people are now starting to attend my shows and I recruited dancers from the University of the Freestate (UOFS) but people in the Freestate still use every other chance to call us names and judge us by the way we dance and dress. I was also labelled as a pimp because I was always surrounded by my dancers who were free to dress however way they want in order to perfect our dance moves.
Being labelled and judged by my own community is probably one of the hardest things I have had to overcome. However, the negative statements which were said and made about me only made me an even stronger woman. They didn’t get me down! My child is still a big fan of mine and she’s still writing songs for me. She’s even now more involved than ever because she is a part of my producing team consisting of Gaddo and many others.
In January 2016, I was raped in my house on my way back from work. This was quite a setback for me. I started being sick, I wasn’t happy at all but I kept strong in order to keep it together for the sake of my child. Although I tried to be strong, I was not getting any better. I decided to consult a Medical Practitioner and my biopsy results came back stating that I had Cancer. This was an extremely difficult time for my child and I. However, because we always looked at the positive side of life. We celebrated our love for each other and did what we did most, which was to sing and dance. We even planned my Metro FM Awards attendance and outfits together.
I am inspired by Teboho Mofokeng, my manager. This is my journey alone and I wouldn’t have done it without him and bonding with my child.
- If you want something in life, be like Skolopad, go for it! Slowly but surely you will reach your goal.
- Be a goal getter. For an even easier life, prioritise education because it is indeed the key to success.
- Never let anything discourage you. Pele fela (forward only).
- Education, Money =Success
- In closing, to all independent and single ladies out there, be comfortable in your own skin and go after your dreams.
Facebook: Skolopad SA
Bookings: 073 274 9558
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story with our community, Skolopad. We wish you all the best in everything you do.
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