Amazing granny: One-on-one with Donel Mangena’s dancing grandma

Donel Mangena and his grandmother. — The Voice UK

Donel Mangena and his grandmother. — The Voice UK

Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
FROM Luveve to the United Kingdom and leaving the world in awe along the way!

This is the story of The Voice UK contestant Donel Mangena’s 77-year-old dancing grandmother, Nita Mangena.

The world instantly fell in love with her as she showed off some nifty dance moves when her grandson impressed the judges, R&B singer Jennifer Hudson, English singer Olly Murs and Grammy Award winning artiste Sir Tom Jones, during blind auditions aired last week as he sang some of the parts of the song in his native isiNdebele.

Gogo Nita Mangena and baby Donel

Gogo Nita Mangena and baby Donel

Donel had just ignited the stage with his cover of Major Lazer and Justin Bieber’s Cold Water when his boogying granny Nita stole the show as she unashamedly strutted her stuff on stage.

This immediately gained her fame as the world was delighted by her moves on stage.

Even the judges took a breather and watched her dance for her grandson and clap encouraging her.

Donel Mangena and his grandmother. — The Voice UK

Donel Mangena and his grandmother. — The Voice UK

During the week Chronicle Showbiz visited Gogo Mangena as she is affectionately known by neighbours at her home in Old Luveve in Bulawayo to get to know her more.

Her corner extended house, painted bright yellow complemented with a beautiful garden outside that has an array of flowers, she was dressed to the nines when she met the crew at the gate.

Gogo Mangena, who was born koSigola in Esigodini in Matabeleland South province on August 15, 1940, is a bubbly personality and ever smiling.

Widowed in 1982, she is a mother of six children, five girls namely Beverly (late), Nomuhle, Patience, Sithembile, Ntombiyelanga and Nkosana as the last born son.

When the video started circulating on social media, she shared that her friends, relatives and church mates inundated her with calls saying they saw her dancing on The Voice UK.

She said she danced like that because she loves Donel to bits, a child who she brought up from the tender age of three months until he left just before he was old enough to go to high school.

Evidently, every time Gogo Mangena talks about her grandson, who she warmly refers to as Don Don or Doni, her face lights up with a smile that beams with delight.

“Donel was a nice little boy. Very naughty, however he had met his match because I was strict with him. Even now, he’s such a good boy and respectful and works very hard at school,” said Gogo Mangena.

“I love my grandson so much. When he was younger when he called me from UK he used to sometimes cry and that would drive me also to cry because we missed each other. That’s the kind of relationship that we have with Doni.”

Gogo Mangena said Donel grew up in Old Luveve, learnt at a preschool in the neighbourhood while his parents were in the United Kingdom.

She said when he was in Grade One he was enrolled at Masiyephambili Primary School.

Donel grandmother (4)

Speaking of her new-found fame Gogo Mangena said she had gone to the United Kingdom last year to celebrate the wedding anniversary of her son Nkosana and his wife Nobukhosi, Donel’s parents. The Voice UK was recorded in September and aired in January.

“I’d gone to the United Kingdom to attend his parent’s (Nkosana and Nobukhosi) 10 year wedding anniversary in September. At the same time it was my 77th birthday and I also celebrated it there. So everything was a celebration topped off by Donel’s show-stopping performance,” said Gogo Mangena.

Describing herself as an optimist in any situation Gogo Mangena said she had faith that Donel would make it.

“When we were on our way to the show for the auditions, I said to him Doni, don’t be scared, I know you can make it. He said Gogo are you sure? I said yes.

His mother and father were both nervous. I was just encouraging him because, deep inside I knew he would make it,” said Gogo Mangena.

“When his name was called up and he started to sing, before he had finished three lines the whole place stood up in amazement. When Will I.Am pressed his button to turn his chair around to see Donel, I leapt with joy backstage. I didn’t even hear the rest of the song. I knelt down and said praise the Lord. His father was astonished and asked me what had got into me and I said Donel is singing wonderfully,” said Gogo Mangena.

Then her moment came to dazzle the world and leave a lasting imprint in people’s hearts when she got on stage. She said she remembers the moment as if it was yesterday.

“When he introduced himself he said he was Donel Mangena and was born here but was brought up by his grandmother in Zimbabwe. As he said that, backstage they asked me if I was the grandmother and then I said yes. They said get on stage and I ran up and that’s when I danced. The music was playing and I was moving every limb in my body,” said Gogo Mangena.

She said the chief reason that made her boogie was that Donel made her proud as he promoted his culture.

“He made me proud that when he sang he mixed his song with English and isiNdebele to add flavour to his performance. It’s good that wherever you are and on which foreign land you find yourself, promote your culture there.  Even if most in the audience save for us as Donel’s family, couldn’t hear what he was singing they enjoyed his performance,” said Gogo Mangena.

She said all she wants is for her grandson to do well in the competition.

A bit of background Donel’s granny shared was that his father, the last born of her children, came as a specific prayer to God for her to have a son.

“I’d five girls and then fell pregnant. Unfortunately, I suffered a miscarriage and I was sad. I then asked God to give me a boy. Months later I fell pregnant again this time with Nkosana. When he was born at Mpilo Central Hospital I asked the nurses what sex the child was and they said it was a boy. I leapt off the recovery bed to go see the child. I was so happy that God had answered my prayers.”

Gogo Mangena is a devout Seventh Day Adventist, who attends church in her neighbourhood with her favourite hymn being, Emnyango Impela (The Coming King).

She said the words attest to her strong roots in the faith. — @bonganinkunzi

Article Source: The Chronicle