My City : Joburg: Unathi Msengana
Singer, radio host, Idols judge
I am ... in a great space.
Where were you born? Grahamstown, Eastern Cape.
Where do you live? In the northern suburbs of Joburg.
Who do you share your house with? My husband and my son.
How did you get into your career? I studied journalism at Rhodes University, then moved to Joburg and looked for work at production houses because my major was television, not radio. I heard about auditions for the music show Castle Loud, which used to be on SABC1. I got the job and, because of my journalism background, I also became one of the producers on the show.
You made a transition from being a radio personality to being a singer. How did that come about? I actually made a transition from TV to radio, then from radio to singing, so for me it's just another way of being able to express myself. (Kwaito singer) Zola was someone I used to spend time with, and he asked me to go into studio with him one evening just to see how things would go, because he used to hear me singing in the corridors at Urban Brew. By the end of the evening we had recorded the song Usana lwam, which became the beginning of my music career.
How do you feel about people saying that you've taken over from Mara Louw on Idols? I find it too disregarding for Mam' Mara and what she's done. I find that once people ask me this, it's too easy for them to open the gateway to saying, so then what did you think about what she said about the race issue or the alcohol. It opens a can of worms that I'm not willing to be a part of. For me, she contributed incredibly to Idols and that will not be forgotten.
What do you think of the racial politics that have always marred Idols? I struggle to understand it because 54.6% of M-Net subscribers are black, so for me its mind-boggling that it occurs. People need to vote for the person they feel is the best for that specific platform.
You and your husband, Thomas Msengana, are both in the public eye. How do you deal with it? Our relationship is personal so we don't bring it into the public eye. Work is work and home is home.
What would people be surprised to know about you? That I'm double jointed in interesting places. You actually get to see some of it on Idols.
What's your greatest extravagance? Apart from my property, shoes.
What's your most treasured possession? A leather patched skirt given to me by my mom. It's older than I am.
I'm predisposed to ... trying to please when I know it's not necessarily the best thing for me at that given time.
What's your favourite building in Joburg? The city hall downtown. I love the old architecture and it reminds me of Grahamstown.
What's the ugliest thing about Joburg? There's nothing ugly about Joburg. For me, the way that it can turn people into lesser beings is ugly. People compromise their ethics and morals when they understand what this city can offer.
What is the most memorable moment you've had in Joburg? Meeting my husband 10 years ago. We were working at the same company and I was running out of the building and he was walking in ...
I can't go a day without ... being thankful for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.
If you inherited R100-million, what would you do with it? Secure my children's education. Then I'd go on a long-ass holiday in the Caribbean.
What CDs are you playing in your car? Janelle Monáe, ArchAndroid; Thembisile, My Journey; and Khuli Chana's The Motswakoriginator.
If your house caught fire, what would you save? My family, then important documents like agreements of sales so that we can prove that we own the house.
What are your creature comforts? The superb gown given to me by Sun Goddess years ago. And great conversations with a loved one.
What are you reading? Psychologies and Longevity magazine.
When I go out at night ... I go out full and hard. I call a cab and make sure I have my finest heels on.
I always collect ... magazines.
My friends and I like ... acting like Muppets. I met my friends in the Eastern Cape, so we've been friends for 15 to 20 years. All of them are in Joburg now.
Perfect happiness is: Unachievable.
Have you ever taken public transport in Joburg? Yes. I used to live in Alberton and used taxis to get around. It was rough. I would take a taxi from my place to Alberton town, then from there to Bree Street. From Bree to Randburg and from there to Urban Brew in Ferndale. So it would take me two hours to get to work. And then two hours back home, so I would spend four hours a day commuting.
Everything in moderation but ... sweet things. I love Lindt chocolate.
If money could buy happiness? We'd be living in a sick world.
JEANS: More so now because I'm overweight and can't fit into anything because I'm expecting.
HONESTY: It saves so much time and always prevails in the end.
GLEN LEWIS: He makes me laugh every day.
MUSIC: It's the soundtrack to my day.
LIARS: I find them cowardly.
ROAD RAGE: It's very scary.
ENVIOUS PEOPLE: They spend more time on other people as opposed to investing in their own growth.
CHEWING GUM: It's a dislike I've inherited from my dad. People never know where to dispose of their gum and it inevitably becomes someone else's problem.
Little Black Book
2A, Hyde Park Shopping Centre, 0113254545
This is my shoe haven. The day I discovered this shop was the day I knew I was home. Oprah made me fall in love with Christian Louboutins. And then I saw them in their window.
Bliss, 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark, 011482 7691
It's a cocktail and dessert bar.
The Local Grill, 40 7th Avenue, Parktown North, 0118801946
When I crave meat, this is where I go.
Randpark Golf Club, 011215 8600
I go to the driving range to play some golf and let off some steam. I've been playing for five years now.
Northgate Ice Arena, Northgate Shopping Centre, 0117948706
I go there to take my child , but it's for me, really.