Television host Katlego Maboe made his highly-anticipated return to The Expresso Morning Show this week after two years off air. He took time off to focus on personal matters that stemmed from allegations of abuse that were made against him and, after a protracted legal process, the courts absolved Katlego against these allegations in January 2022.
In a sit-down interview with co-host Graeme Richards on this morning’s episode, Katlego opens up about the challenges he faced over the past two years and his excitement about getting back in front of the camera and waking Mzansi up in the feel-good way Expresso has become synonymous with.
Welcome back to Expresso! What did it feel like walking back into the studio?
A lot has changed. I didn’t know what this would feel like – but the kitchen still smells good! I don’t even recognize the place anymore. It felt strange. It felt good. It felt welcoming, like home – just a home that you haven’t seen in a long time.
How have the past two years changed who you are today?
The ‘new’ me is certainly not the ‘old’ me. But, there are certainly elements of the ‘old’ me that remain that I think have stood me in good stead. No matter what has happened to me over the past couple of years, I never want to let go of this desire that I have to be a force of positivity in people’s lives. There have been many touch-and-go moments where my self-identity was questioned, but I worked my way through it with support from friends and family and people who I met in person or on social media who have constantly told me to ‘Get up and start again’”.
Did you have any inkling, when the dominoes started to fall, of what was coming?
Not at all. All I could do at the time was step back and look at the pieces around me and mourn them. Because I did. I had to mourn it. It was a death of sorts. But, at some point, you can either sit and mourn until you don’t know how to get up anymore or you decide that, no matter what, I have to get up today. I will find a reason to get up and put one foot forward until the reason you started it all has cemented itself somewhere in your being so that you generate momentum again. So you can start picking up the good pieces of what was broken and remould them into something new.
When everything is stripped away, what do you know about your character when you are forced to take that kind of audit and look into yourself?
I think the acceptance of imperfection certainly stands out – not that I, in any way, shape or form, ever regarded myself as being perfect. But that pursuit of imperfection that was illusive and unattainable and the acceptance of that imperfection and realising that I am an imperfect human being, in its own way, was quite beautiful. That realisation came to me, even more so, once I had my son. I would look at him and the way he looks at me and how he tries to imitate me in certain things that he does, made me find certain stability within myself of acceptance where, perhaps, he would learn, in the years to come, to accept himself for who he is. It made me realise that I am made of strong stuff. I have to believe that I am made of stronger stuff than this.
What was the darkest moment for you?
Certainly the beginning. It didn’t matter if it was 10/15 years that you put into something, everything in one moment, became impermanent. There was a moment when I thought the darkest thoughts. I thought wouldn’t it be better if it was just done? Just quickly. Now. Done. My family wouldn’t have to worry about having to call me every day and deal with me. But, the reason for it all needs to come from somewhere and, for me, that was Phoenix.
Where are your hopes and dreams right now?
The hopes and dreams I have always had are still there, but I have a new perspective as well - especially in the relationship between me and my son. A lot of people look at the last couple of years and the downside of it. They look at the loss and everything that came with that, but I look at the fact that I have had a solid two and a half years of quality time with my son and nothing can replace that. Not any amount of money or dream or ambition or achievement could ever replace that. But yes, I want to show him what the world is about, the importance of connection with human beings, to have empathy and understanding. Of course, I would still love to make a mark on the local broadcasting scene, knowing and understanding how important this platform is in shaping the country every day. There is my passion for music as well which excites me.
What did you miss the most about not being on Expresso every morning?
I feel genuine love and warmth when I walk into the studio and it feels reciprocated. The smiles are real. It’s family, and I missed that. No matter what was happening in my life around me, I was always able to walk through that door and know that there would be a surge of this welcoming feeling. I missed that. I would always walk out of here feeling like I could conquer the world every single time. That was a natural part of the bubbly energy that I had and, for a long time, that flame was extinguished. It’s amazing to officially be back. I love that Expesso always has been, remains, and always will be about the South African viewer who chooses to tune in every single day. On some level, they depend on this show to give them that starting momentum to the day. It’s the kind of ethos in which I approach this job.
Is there a message you have for your fans who are thrilled to see you back on air?
I missed you. To every single person who has prayed for this moment and wielded it to come to fruition, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cannot tell you how much this means to me. Here’s to many more feel-good moments.
Tune into the Expresso Morning Show every weekday between 06:00 and 09:00 on S3.