SABC’s Zolani Bongco seeks to develop new crop of commentators

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The well-known SABC sports commentator, Zolani Bongco wants the next generation of commentators to do research and focus on more than one sporting code.

He believes that in order to succeed in the industry, young commentators must diversify.

Bongco has been on the air for Umhlobo Wenene FM and SABC Sport for decades, and he has 250 One Day International Cricket Games under his belt and five Rugby and Soccer World Cups.

A career that started as a ring announcer in boxing, now Zolani Bongco has a household name after moving behind the microphone in 1987.

Bongco has also interviewed the best players in the world such as West Indies cricket legend, Sir Gary Sobers. He is also an SABC Hall of Famer. The department of sport also honoured Bongco with a special award for language and commentary. Bongco says it all starts with searching out knowledge.

“I will always remain humble, thanks to SABC, with commentary you keep on learning as much as I was behind the mic for so long, I started as ring announcer many years ago and I did so many shows, the listenership was brilliant then because you knew someone who knows better than you so that keeps you on your toes. I travelled all over the world commentating on different sporting codes which I am grateful for,” says Bongco.

His voice is also well-known to boxing lovers commentating on historic matches like the Mxhosana Jongilanga and Zweli Ngcongolo fight and many other world title fights involving South Africans like Dingaan Thobela and Welcome Ncita.

Cricket South Africa also honoured him for his contribution to cricket. Bongco followed in the footsteps of Peter Bacela, Stan Mosia and Given Ntlebi. Former Springbok manager, Zola Yeye says his use of words to create moments is what sets him apart from the rest.

“He has done very well, I witnessed him collecting many awards, he is a true legend and is highly respected, he is one of the best even now, he loves his job with a passion, many years ago, they did different shows that is what made him so good,” says Yeye.

SABC radio presenter, Putco Mafani shares his fond memories.

“I started in radio in 1989. I was behind him few years, and we worked well together on Radio Xhosa under difficult circumstances. I was not surprised when he was awarded the Hall of Fame, not an ordinary person receives a Hall of Fame. Zolani kept the SABC name very high until today,” says Mafani.

Now Bongco wants to bring forth the next generation of commentators.