Yesterday was an emotionally charged day as legendary newsreader Noxolo Grootboom bid farewell to viewers of IsiXhosa news as she read her last bulletin.
For friends of late actor and producer Akhumzi Jezile, although this was a joyous celebration, it was a reminder of how their friend adored the IsiXhosa newsreader.
The lively Akhumzi was very fond of Grootboom and would at times impersonate her. A close friend of the late television personality, Percy Vilakazi, took his followers down memory lane on the role Grootboom played in Akhumzi’s life and even in death.
Akhumzi was probably the biggest #NoxoloGrootboom fan. When he passed away in 2018, we asked his mom for permission to ask Mam’ Noxolo to read his obituary at his funeral. I called her up, having never met or spoken to her before. I was soooo moved by her humility and humanity.
— Bonga Percy Vilakazi (@BongaPercy) March 30, 2021
In the thread he remembers how on the day of Akhumzi’s funeral, who passed away on 28 April 2018, they were running behind schedule and the funeral service was being broadcast live.
They decided they would rush and have Grootboom read his obituary before the broadcast ended. “We knew they’d never cut Mam’ Noxolo reading the obituary,” Percy recalls.
Grootboom took to the podium and read Akhumzi’s obituary in Xhosa, a gesture his friends knew the SAFTA award winner would have appreciated.
Percy, in a tweet, says that “what got to me was seeing Mam’ Noxolo walk up with the typed, printed and translated-to-isiXhosa obituary, safely binded and tucked in a plastic sleeve. The levels! She never does anything in half measures!”
And true, in the 37 years Grootboom was a newsreader she never did anything half-heartedly. She managed to capture viewers’ attention and hearts.
Not only did the influential Grootboom play a significant role at Akhumzi’s funeral, in the past she was entrusted to host the funerals of political heavyweights. She was the lead anchor at the broadcast of the funerals of the late Chris Hani, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, capturing the emotions of the mourners and describing the mood in Xhosa.
After making such a mark, it was only fitting that President Cyril Ramaphosa postponed the delivery of his speech updating the nation on Covid-19 regulations ahead of the Easter weekend to make way for the country to see this powerful woman say, one last time: “Ndinithanda nonke emakhaya,” (I love everyone at home!)