Born in Ethiopia to exiled South Africans, Bax & Corah, babysat by Uncle Thabo Mbeki (later President Mbeki) Pamela Nomvete had an unusual childhood. In her heart a South African, she had never seen her true home, living most of her life in the UK. Her parents campaigned against apartheid, a stance that led to them being forced to leave their eldest daughter behind in South Africa and a five year fight to get her back.
Apart from 'Uncle Thabo', regular visitors were Chris Hani, Kofi Anan and Miriam Makeba. Pamela always felt an outsider, hoped that would change when she finally made it to South Africa to vote in the first free elections in 1994. This was a significant event, marking the liberation of a continent, and Pamela Nomvete wanted to be part of it.
This was also an opportunity to explore her home and she moved to Johannesburg with a plan to stay for two years. She started work at the Windybrow Theatre before landing a part in Generations – South Africa's most popular soap opera. Her character, Ntsiki Lukhele, stole the show and Pamela's face became one of the most well-known in South Africa. But while her professional life soared, things were not going so well in her personal life. She found her fame difficult to handle and, in her own words, 'stopped opening the door' and ' stopped opening the curtains.'
After an affair with 'Forbidden Lover', she grew increasingly isolated and her life became a vicious spiral of psychological abuse and low self-esteem, culminating in a disastrous marriage and abject poverty. Her husband, Farai Sapiens, milked her dry, emotionally, psychologically and financially until she had nothing left – no money, no strength, no friends and nowhere to live. When she finally made the break from him, she swapped one addiction for another: marriage and Farai for church and God, giving up all control over her own life in the process.
Pamela Nomvete tells her shocking story with great insight, perspective and humour. Her bravery and honesty jump off the page and you cannot help but be profoundly moved by her tale. She not only paints a raw and emotional portrait of her life in South Africa, but an equally honest picture of post-apartheid South Africa, where society struggles to throw off the habit of segregation, and she is still an outsider.
She is shunned and ignored by the people she thought of as friends at the height of her career, yet finds innate humanity and kindness in the people – strangers – who have the least to give, and these touching moments give some balance to what is otherwise a heart-wrenching account of despair and desperation. But where many people would have given up, Pamela Nomvete fought - for survival and for a future, which she now has. I was profoundly moved by her story and wish her every success and happiness in her life to come.
For your SIGNED COPY of Dancing to the Beat of the Drum, CLICK HERE