South African actress Thandeka Zulu is a triple threat. Best known for her role as Nombuso in Uzalo, she has established herself as a solid fixture in South African entertainment. She is an award-winning musician, a celebrated actress, and a very talented songwriter and dancer. If you think too deeply about it, you might think life is a bit unfair- loading one person with all these talents. Thandeka is also one of the most recognizable faces in South Africa, and contrary to what you might have expected from a movie star, Thandeka ditched the regular human hair extensions for a pure “African Queen” look.
With her unique sense of fashion and a regal smile that tells you she pays her haters no mind, the Zulu actress has not looked back since she took the movie industry by storm. Thandeka did not rise through the ranks without her fair share of public thrashing, as she once had a reputation for being difficult to work with, thanks to a rocky patch at her former workplace. Thankfully, this has not impacted her career negatively in any way, as Thandeka stays fully booked and busy.
Thandeka Zulu Was Born in Durban 30 Years Ago
Thandeka Zulu was born on November 25, 1991, and was raised in a small township called Hambanathi, located in the northern city of Durban. In some interviews, Thandeka speaks very fondly of the place where she was raised, stating that the village was found nestling among the sugarcane plantations of KwaZulu-Natal in Tongaat. Thandeka had a very happy childhood, even though she was raised by a single mother named UmaVezi. Apparently, her father had left her mother when she was still a little girl, leaving Uma to cater for the young child alone.
Her mother was a devout Christian, and church-going was a norm for Thandeka. She grew up with an unbridled passion for singing and dancing, and she would go for dance rehearsals almost every day. As a child, Thandeka loved engaging in activities that fostered communal spirit, and she was interested in many things – modeling, singing, dancing, you name it. Upon a final decision to pursue her career seriously, she attended the Art Academies of Ibakawo and Mbongeni Ngema. For her secondary school education, Thandeka attended Nkosibomvu Secondary School in her Tongaat hometown, but information about whether or not she got a university education hasn’t been revealed yet.
She is a Singer, Dancer, and Actress
Thandeka’s career had been nurtured right from her childhood days as she attended some of the best art schools in her area. At the age of 21, she joined a Durban-based musical band called AfroSoul. Like its name suggests, the band was created to foster the appreciation of African Soul music and was created in the year 2000. She joined the group as a backup singer and dancer before becoming the lead singer due to her melodious voice and unique vocal technique.
While still aspiring to become a famous singer, Thandeka Zulu decided to branch out into acting and made her first movie appearance in the 2013 movie, Kwaito Church Service 2. She also played a character named Pearl on the South African e.tv series, The Girl is Mine. Thandeka’s versatility has made her an exemplary all-around entertainer, and this is why she has been able to sing, act and dance effortlessly, all at the same time.
In her career, she has worked as a member of the Spirit and Bones choir; she also performed at the Gala Dinner Crown Gospel Awards as a dancer. Thandeka is also sharpening her directorial skills and has worked with award-winning producers for movies like Jola, Stimela Sase-Zola, including the ever-green classic Sarafina.
Thandeka Was Fired From Uzalo TV Series Just After a Year
In 2015, Thandeka joined the popular SABC1 TV series, Uzalo, where she played the main character of Nombuso Mdletshe. In the series, Nombuso was a confused young woman who was caught in between the attentions of two different men. The character was one of the viewer’s favorites, and this was why it came as a huge surprise to hear that the actor who portrayed her had been fired from the show barely a year later. Inside sources revealed that the cause of the sack was Thandeka’s unbearable work attitude. It was also revealed that the Durban-born actress was tough to work with and was very insubordinate to the directors.
Other sources claim she was outrightly rude, overbearing, and spoke to fellow cast members and crew with disrespect. These sources were never actually confirmed, and Thandeka never commented on her abrupt removal from what was South Africa’s highest watched show at the time. The character she played was a key character, pivotal to the plot. However, after she was fired, the ‘Nombuso’character was killed off dramatically. This was a very sorrowful time for lovers of the character but all things they say happen for a reason.
She Has Since Moved On To Pastures Anew
No matter what rumors are spread about her, Thandeka Zulu is never absent from our TV screens. In subsequent interviews, she has, without any hint of bitterness, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to play such a strong female character in Uzalo; she also acknowledged that the series gave her much-needed exposure and helped polish her acting skills.
After her sterling performance on Uzalo, Thandeka went on to play several other characters, each time bringing her unique skill-sets. She currently plays Nelly, a bad girl on the popular Mzansi Magic TV series, eHostela. She also played Nomagugu, a talented singer who abandoned her love for Maskandi music when she became a city girl but is forced to return to her roots when her father dies. The movie was a Showmax production called Maskandi Queen.
These days, when she is not in the studio writing or recording songs for her band, Thandeka runs a school alongside her husband and fellow group member called Ikabawo Performing Arts Academy located at Durban central. The academy has been accredited by SITA and has produced top-tier performers, including the amazing Phumzile’ Ndoni’ Mseleku, who competed at the 2021 Idols SA and made it to the top 5.
Apart from being a teacher, Thandeka makes a decent living from ambassadorial gigs. In 2016, she was made an ambassador for KZN Sports and Recreation. When we said that Thandeka remains booked and busy, we weren’t mincing words.
The Former Uzalo Actress Is Married To Sabelo Ngema
Thandeka Zulu found love in her fellow band-mate, Sabelo Muji Ngema. They met in the band AfroSoul, in 2012 as Sabelo was one of the founders of the music band and is also a brilliant musician like his heartthrob. Together, they have been referred to as AfroSoul’s power couple, and truth be told, they look like it. They began making preparations for their traditional marriage (lobola) in 2016, and by the following year, they were fully engaged. They got married in 2018 in a simple wedding ceremony.
In late 2018, an excited Thandeka announced on Instagram that she and her lover were expecting a baby. The baby boy arrived on June 23 in 2018, shortly after his parents had thrown him a massive baby shower. Thandeka also took to Instagram to announce the birth of her new bundle of joy, expressing how grateful she was for safe delivery. They named their baby Iwundlu Ngema. Little Iwundlu is now 3 years old and seems to be enjoying his celebrity baby status.