Noxolo Grootboom is a retired legendary isiXhosa news anchor who became a household name in Mzansi following her inimitable knack for presenting the news in her mother tongue, isiXhosa.
For close to four decades, Mama Grootboom worked with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and won the hearts of millions of viewers with her uncanny sense of humor. To form a close bond with her audience, the 62-year-old created a unique sign-off phrase, “Ndinithanda nonke emakhaya,” which is translated as “I love you all at home.”
This made her popularity grow beyond bounds in the country as she regularly says it every evening at the end of her SABC TV news isiXhosa bulletin. Noxolo, dubbed “Queen of News” and “National Treasure,” made many South Africans fall in love with the isiXhosa language as she sensationally exposed the richness of the language during her time on the screen. Not only did she promote South African culture with her talent and communication skills, but she inspired many into embracing their own culture and language. To the amazement of her fans, the much-loved TV broadcaster retired from her role at SABC after 37 years, and her departure has left a huge vacuum in the broadcast journalism sector.
Noxolo Grootboom Was Born Eastern Cape in 1960
Noxolo Grootboom has often referred to herself as a child of the ’60s. She was born on October 8th, 1960, at the Lady Frere Hospital in Cacadu, rural Eastern Cape, South Africa. Apparently, the 62-year-old famous media figure doesn’t look her age, and her youthful look has made it hard for many to believe that she was born in the 1960s.
Noxolo, who is still in her early sixties, made tremendous achievements through her journalism career. She has set the bar so high for the younger generations to emulate, as the veteran isiXhosa news anchor ranks among the most-celebrated broadcasters in the country despite her retirement.
She is from the Xhosa Tribe in Fort Beaufort
The former SABC isiXhosa news anchor is of African descent and possesses a mixed ethnic background. She is of the Xhosa tribe and is a native of Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape Region. Noxolo is unapologetic about being Xhosa, and having been fluent in her mother tongue, she has made the isiXhosa language popular with her decades-long role at the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
This had a significant influence on her listeners who do not speak isiXhosa. Noxolo developed a passion for her home language and reading through the help of her grandparents, who inculcated in her a reading habit. She was frequently allocated a book page for reading, which eventually became a daily ritual for her.
She Got Her Name From Her Grandparents Who Raised Her
Though her parents’ identities are unknown, Noxolo Grootboom’s father was reportedly an entrepreneur while her mother worked as a homemaker. She grew up under the care of her maternal grandparents, Mzamo and Rose Mbatani. She was brought up at Tyatyora, located in Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape. Her name, “Noxolo,” which translates as “mother of peace,” was given to her by her grandparents. Living up to her name, the former TV news anchor made a mark in the media industry by constantly preaching love and peace. She showed love to people around her and equally strived to maintain peace within her environment.
While growing up, she enjoyed watching sports games of the popular Healdtown High School from the back verandah of their house, which faced the school’s girls’ hostel and their playgrounds. During her childhood, her grandparents fanned into flames her love for reading and the isiXhosa language. She developed a habit of reading a book page daily, and the first book she read was an isiXhosa novel entitled “Buzani Kubawo.” The book was about love and family relationships. It also highlighted the consequences of the traditional expectations clashing with changing values. As such, Noxolo held onto the book all these years, having kept it in her home.
Noxolo Grootboom Won a Sunday School Reading Competition at Age 6
When Noxolo Grootboom was six years old, she participated in a Sunday School reading competition. Though the competition was not meant for those her age, she convinced her Sunday school teacher to allow her to participate. The teacher eventually gave her Bible verses to read along with older students. Being confident of her reading abilities at such a young age, Noxolo had her first public reading session as a kid. Interestingly, she emerged as the Sunday School reading competition winner, beating those older than her in the contest.
What is Her Highest Educational Qualification?
In the past years, Noxolo Grootboom used her role as isiXhosa news presenter to educate the nation, and her inventive turns of phrase made her a national treasure. To the amazement of her fans, the retired proficient telecaster has revealed that she didn’t receive formal training as a journalist and that her isiXhosa language has been her degree. She learned on the job by signing up for every in-house journalism training course. She was also nurtured by some seasoned journalists who helped teach her the ropes in the newsroom and the field.
Noxolo Grootboom is said to have completed her high school education at a private school situated in her hometown. Alongside her grandparents, her secondary school teacher also helped her develop a passion for the rhythms of the isiXhosa language as he served as her mentor. He also helped her become very fluent in the language, instilling a special love for her home language. Noxolo eventually developed herself in the field and became quite a successful journalist with alluring career achievements.
One of the things that helped her climb the ladder in her work as a news presenter and a news editor is her principle of including the cameramen in her planning and, equally, in the editing process.
Grootboom Joined SABC at The Age of 23
The widely-recognized media figure put a start to her professional career as a typist at SABC. After moving to Dube in Soweto, Johannesburg, with her mother and two brothers upon her graduation from high school, Noxolo Grootboom was desperate to change the condition of things in her family as they could only afford to rent a small room in the city. She was very determined to make a change to the extent that she decided to work as a street sweeper if the opportunity came knocking. Her optimistic view of life made her believe that she would someday be promoted to the manager of street sweepers in the city.
Luckily for young Noxolo, she got hired by SABC as a typist when she was 23 years of age. While working at SABC’s dubbing department, she always believed that her typist work would be a stepping stone to reach the climax of her career, though she never planned to venture into journalism. Later in 1984, Noxolo Grootboom ran into a colleague working at SABC News’ current affairs division who told her that they desperately needed a secretary. Having shown interest in the job, she was then moved to SABC’s current affairs department. There, she began working as the production secretary and production assistant.
From Working as a Save The Day Anchor To Becoming The Face of SABC isiXhosa TV News
Soon after becoming a production secretary and production assistant, one of the anchors of the isiXhosa programme was sick and didn’t show up, and the programme had to go on air. The then-manager of the current affairs department, Hennie van Wyk, then recommended Noxolo Grootboom, stating that since she is a Xhosa working in the office, she had to present the programme. That was how Noxolo became a TV presenter without formal training or a journalism degree. Having been passionate about storytelling, she read the news at ease.
When she stepped in for the role, she never thought about being watched by millions of people as all she wanted to do was to make a good impression. Noxolo Grootboom made a statement on-air that day. She subsequently cemented her anchoring role when one of the main isiXhosa news presenters, Thandi Mesatywa, wasn’t feeling well. She was asked to work in her place as an isiXhosa news anchor till Thandi became available. Eventually, Noxolo outshined other isiXhosa news presenters and emerged as the face of the isiXhosa TV news.
Her impeccable presenting technique, which has garnered her immense praise over the years, has enabled her to raise the standard of the isiXhosa language and South African culture. Amazingly, Noxolo Grootboom’s career swiftly grew beyond limits as she moved on from becoming a “save the day broadcaster” to “The Undertaker.” Mama Grootboom was given the humorous nickname of “The Undertaker” for her reliable presence and excellent presentation at the broadcasts of funerals for struggle stalwarts, including the first democratic President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
Noxolo Grootboom Solidified Her Status as an A-List Journalist While in Her 50s
Through stellar news reading skills, the celebrated media figure inspired a nation every evening in the 1990s and early 2000s. Later in the 2010s, she was hardly seen on screen as she mostly carried out behind the scene roles as a news editor. For more than 20 years, she was an anchor on the Xhosa news desk. She skillfully made use of metaphors in her news presentation and commentary to convey information to her audience. She further became well known among viewers for proudly wearing traditional Xhosa and other African attire while reading the news bulletin.
For over 37 years, Noxolo Grootboom illuminated the living rooms of her massive audience with well-presented isiXhosa news bulletins in a unique and humorous manner. When Chris Hani was assassinated in 1993, she declined to cover his funeral as she was close to him but later decided to use the opportunity to tell the story of the former leader of the South African Communist Party and equally comfort the nation. Then in the 2010s, when she was in her fifties, Mama Grootboom further contributed hugely to the historical events in Mzansi by presenting during the funeral proceedings of other iconic struggle stalwarts in the country.
She made a significant impact in SA’s media industry as she anchored the funeral proceedings of the former President, Nelson Mandela, in 2013. At the age of 58, in 2018, when she was mostly working behind the scenes as a news editor, Noxolo Grootboom’s unmatched journalistic skills paved the way for her to be recommended as the TV presenter to cover the state funeral broadcast of South Africa’s former first lady, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on SABC. She was proposed as a perfect fit to take up the role by 947’s Thembekile Mrototo. Also, in that same year, she gave a powerful address at the funeral of late actor and TV star Akhumzi Jezile.
The Media Personality Took a Bow From Her Journalism Work When She Was 60 Years Old
For close to four decades, Noxolo was the face of isiXhosa news on SABC television. Having decided to end her journalism career at the age of 60, the queen of news announced her retirement earlier in March 2021. Then on Tuesday, March 30th, she read her last isiXhosa news bulletin at SABC, wearing Xhosa regalia. It was quite an emotional broadcast as Noxolo Grootboom couldn’t hold back her tears when making her final iconic signature sign-off; “ndinithanda nonke emakhaya,” for the last time as a TV presenter. She decided to be saying the closing line at the end of her news reading to show appreciation to her audience for welcoming her into their homes every evening.
Recognizing Noxolo Grootboom’s positive impact on the nation, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who announced earlier on March 30th, 2021, that he would be giving a national address, decided to delay his speech by 30 minutes to allow South Africans to watch the legendary news anchor deliver her final isiXhosa news broadcast. History was made that day as Mama Noxolo’s last news bulletin attracted over 3.8 million viewers. As a result, it emerged as the 7th most-watched programme in all of South African television for March 2021. The news bulletin also became the most-watched programme for the month on all of SABC1.
It was later disclosed that out of three TV sets that were on at 7 PM on that Tuesday evening in Mzansi, one tuned to watch Grootboom’s news reading on SABC1. Though the media personality requested a quiet exit, she was celebrated for days in the country and trended on social media platforms. She was overwhelmed by the massive love shown to her by South Africans, including the President, who had to shift his national address for her.
Mama Grootboom’s Retirement Announcement Was Greeted With a Saddening News
Although Grootboom was celebrated all over the country on the day of her retirement, she revealed that it was the saddest day of her life due to SABC’s announcement in that same week that they had finalized the section 189 process that ended in the shedding of 621 jobs. While 275 colleagues of Nixolo Grootboom were retrenched, 346 opted for a voluntary severance package. She cited that after her final news bulletin, she entered the third floor of the broadcasting house, and it seemed to her like a ghost house.
She also went to the second floor, the radio section looking for some particular faces, which she couldn’t find, and the moment was bittersweet. Nonetheless, she has moved on to state that she will mostly miss dearly her numerous children in the newsroom, whom she often refers to as “bantwana bam.” The job cut by SABC wasn’t well-received by the citizens. Still, the public broadcaster has insisted that it was critical for their financial stabilization as the company was drowning in debt.
A Look at The Controversy Surrounding Her Retirement
With the famed media personality saying an emotional goodbye during her last news bulletin, many people, including politician Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, have assumed that she might be forced to resign by the media network. Ndlozi stated in a tweet on March 31st that SABC should explain to the public why Noxolo Grootboom stopped reading the news for some years before her sudden retirement. He insinuated that it was a pushed retirement as the tears shedding at the end of her final news broadcast weren’t tears of joy. Despite the claims, Mama Grootboom has maintained her stance that she has since made a conscious decision to retire at the age of 60.
Did Noxolo Grootboom Join eNCA After Leaving SABC?
On April 1st, 2021, news about Mama Grootboom joining eNCA began circulating in the media. This came as a result of the announcement made by the broadcasting station in a fake tweet that the iconic TV presenter would be joining their team. They also stated in the tweet that she would be part of the station’s new anchor line-up. With Noxolo being interviewed on the channel after her retirement, many believed the announcement. However, eNCA later revealed that the announcement was an April Fool’s Day prank, and Noxolo Grootboom won’t be joining the TV channel.
Noxolo Grootboom’s Biggest Career Accomplishments
Throughout her decades-long career, Noxolo Grootboom mothered the nation by preaching love and peace with her news broadcasts. Even though it’s still uncertain whether she claimed an award for her solid service of excellence during her active career, Mzansi paid tribute to her as a national treasure on her retirement. During his national address on March 30th, 2021, the President paid tribute to Grootboom, describing her as an outstanding journalist and equally thanking her for many years of service. EFF leader Julius Malema further described Mama Noxolo as a symbol of unity. He hopes that she will inspire the younger generations.
After Noxolo Grootboom’s retirement, a motion was raised for her to be recognized with some accolades and honors. Media personality Chriselda Lewis called for her to be honored with a studio at SABC being renamed after Grootboom. She equally begged president Ramaphosa to honor her with a presidential order. Some other people also called on the Nelson Mandela University and the University of Fort Hare to award Mama Noxolo an honorary doctorate for her work in elevating the isiXhosa language.
Following decades of promoting her culture and language, Grootboom is widely considered the torchbearer of the isiXhosa language in the newsroom. During her active career, she used SABC as a platform to teach, celebrate, and share her love for isiXhosa. Noxolo left a legacy in the broadcast journalism arena as she used her position in SABC to elevate indigenous language that was ignored and stigmatized during the apartheid era.
Her passion for the isiXhosa language and culture set her apart. By showing that there is no feeling, no action, and no technology that cannot be expressed in the African language, the veteran broadcaster made many of her viewers fall in love with the isiXhosa language, even those who could not understand some of the words and phrases of the language.
How Long Has The Former News Anchor Been Married?
Despite being in the spotlight constantly for having a rich and fulfilling career, Noxolo Grootboom has never for once revealed the identity of her husband. She has successfully kept details of her marital life away from the public eye. To keep her personal life low-key, the retired journalist doesn’t have a social media presence. However, it is a known fact that she has been married for many decades, and she is presently a grandmother. She shares four children with her husband and has once revealed that her job prevented her, to some extent, from being available for her children when they were growing up.
Also, her love for storytelling made her not attend one of her children’s matric dances. She was further absent from some family weddings, dinners, and funerals. As a result, she has been thankful to her husband, who has hugely supported her throughout her career. She also praised him for giving her a shoulder to cry on whenever she gets weighed down by her tedious work of reporting the news. The proud mother plans on spending more time with her husband and children now that she has retired from her journalism work.
What Noxolo Grootboom Has Been Up To Since Her Retirement
For more than three decades, Noxolo was devoted to her role of developing language and culture. Thus, she became a mentor to many young people. She believes in training and educating young journalists on how to properly behave in a working environment. After announcing her retirement, she instructed her children to make a reservation for a private family dinner to welcome her back. She hopes to enjoy her retirement by traveling and visiting family and spending quality time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.
As a Methodist preacher, Noxolo plans to focus on preaching the good news full time. She thinks her new career path is not different from what she has been doing on TV for over thirty-seven years.