Ncumisa Ndelu didn't feel like she deserved the award. Image via Instagram @ncum77 / @kinishandu

Ncumisa Ndelu didn’t feel like she deserved the award. Image via Instagram @ncum77 / @kinishandu

‘It weighed on my conscience’: Ncumisa Ndelu on why she returned her gong

Ncumisa Ndelu speaks on why she returned her Sebenza Women Awards gong after Kini Shandu’s remarks about unmarried women.

Ncumisa Ndelu didn't feel like she deserved the award. Image via Instagram @ncum77 / @kinishandu

Ncumisa Ndelu didn’t feel like she deserved the award. Image via Instagram @ncum77 / @kinishandu

Gagasi FM’s former news editor, Ncumisa Ndelu, has made a bold statement by returning her Sebenza Women Awards gong, deeming the entire accolade as a sham. In a statement she shared on her Instagram account, Ndelu revealed her inner conflict and clearly stated that she never believed she deserved the honor, especially when she felt another worthy recipient, Thembisa V Luthuli, was sitting next to her.

In her words to Sunday World, “It has weighed heavily on my conscience because the woman who deserved it as per criteria, Thembisa V Luthuli, was sitting right next to me.”

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According to Ndelu, the night of the awards was marred by incidents that degraded rather than celebrated women, and further intensified her crisis of conscience. 

So, despite reluctantly accepting the award and keeping it, she decided to return it instead, driven by a desire to recognize deserving women. The controversy surrounding Sebenza Women Awards founder Kininonke “Kini” Shandu’s recent disparaging comments against women who get pregnant before marriage further fueled Ndelu’s decision. 

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“I grudgingly accepted the award because I did not nominate myself, however, I felt strongly even on the night that too many things happened that night that degraded rather than honoured women,” she said.

Shandu’s 7-day cancellation for his remarks prompted Ndelu to reflect on her own experiences as a single mother, revealing that she raised her firstborn alone and took pride in the accomplishment.

“I raised my first born alone. Her father fled before she was born,” she said to Sunday World. “My daughter is one of my proudest achievements in this life and I have done a good job raising her with the assistance of my mother who raised me by herself, because my dad fled before I was born, naye engahlawulanga [my dad too failed to pay damages].

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Ndelu also shared her disappointment in facing criticism from other women when she expressed a preference for the award to be presented by a fellow woman. The backlash, both in the room and on social media, left her disheartened.

“When I expressed my wish for the award to be handed over by a woman, it was women who admonished me.

“I heard the murmurs in the room and saw the comments on social media. I was gutted. It hurt me to see some women expecting me to take such foolishness with a smile and grace.”

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