Inmates get words of motivation from Afro pop singer

Afro pop singer Nathi Mankayi at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE

A former prisoner who is now an award-winning Afro pop singer visited Pollsmoor Correctional Centre last Wednesday, October 11, to give a talk to inmates.

Nathi Mankayi hails from the small town of Maclear in the Eastern Cape. He and his five siblings were raised by their single mom.

He told the inmates that he was there to motivate them, as he was also an inmate himself before becoming famous.

“I feel there is a need for me to come here and encourage you before you are released and go back to society. So today I am here to look back where I came from, to me it’s important to go back where I came from, and come here to tell you that there is life outside. I have been in jail too and served years inside. While serving time in jail, I learned how to behave as well as to accept myself, sometimes we find ourselves here because we do not accept the situations that we encounter.”

Mankayi had been sentenced to eight years in prison for robbery.

“I came from a poor home raised by my mother who was raising six children, so I ended up getting involved with wrong people that I thought were right and I ended up committing crime as we had nothing at home.”

Mankayi said growing up in a poor environment where even at school kids picked up on you, lead him to growing up with anger, and he became violent as he was always getting involved in fights.

“I was arrested a number of times, I was in and out of prison. Sometimes I would be out for two weeks and be back inside again. Being in prison was easy for me as I found brothers there. I thought it was not easy to be inside but I ended up ruling and leading. But while inside I made a decision to do things right and change my behaviour. I know how to live and integrate with the community. I started singing while serving time and forgot about the life we have in prison,” said Mankayi.

He said music saved him from the person he was. After being released from prison he entered a music competition.

He warned the inmates about the struggles and hardship one can face after being released, which can lead someone to committing crime again.

“Remember that perseverance is the mother of success, after I was released from prison I struggled a lot to the point where I did not have money to fix my shoes, as a result there was that tempting feeling to go back to my old ways. But I used the talent God gave me which became my weapon to fight. I am not educated but today I am counted among the big celebrities in the country just because of my talent.”

Mankayi also urged young people at home to avoid doing things under peer pressure “There are things and habits that you shouldn’t start like smoking, smoking led me to crime. I started smoking and hanging around with the wrong crowd,“ he said.

Afro pop singer Nathi Mankayi with the inmates during his visit to Pollsmoor Correctional Centre. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE