Chance encounter helps opera-singing Uber driver’s career
All this happened simply because Mngoma – an Uber driver – opened up to a passenger, Kim Davey, that he was an opera singer.
“Nothing in life is coincidence. We were put in one another’s paths for a reason,” says Davey, whose video of the opera singing Uber driver has gone viral, leading to these life-changing opportunities.
“On 23 May, I went to Durban on a work-related trip and hailed an Uber. The driver, Menzi Mngoma, and I got chatting, and I discovered that he was an opera singer who due to a lack of opportunities in South Africa, became an Uber driver to support his family,” Davey says.
“Not letting the unique opportunity pass me by, I asked Menzi if he would mind singing for me. He gladly obliged, and I was blown away. I asked to film him. In our subsequent conversation, I told him, ‘There must be someone who can help you!’
“When Menzi dropped me back at the airport, I told him not to give up on his dreams, and that he needed to put positive energy out into the universe and something would come. I asked his permission to post the videos on Facebook. Little did I know that through my post and simple request, I would be that someone who would help to expose his natural talent.”
What transpired afterwards is the stuff of a Hollywood movie. “I never imagined that my post would go viral. My friend suggested that I make the post public, and that is when the number of shares climbed. The video has since been viewed more than 650 000 times. The response has been overwhelming and as a result, Menzi has been offered some wonderful opportunities,” says Davey.
Jacaranda FM’s breakfast show, Breakfast with Martin Bester, donated R5 000 to Mngoma and his family. East Coast Radio arranged for him to work with musician Hendrik Joerges to have a single produced, recorded, and released on the radio station. He was invited by Stuart Barry from Impi Concert Events to join its line up at Durban’s Music at the Lake, performing with Mi Casa and Hot Water. He was also invited by Anthea Ambursley to perform at the second Annual AfriCAN Authors Awards.
Yet, the Voices of South Africa International Opera Singing Competition and master classes stand out for him above all else.
“The master classes are led by international guests and representatives of opera companies. Furthermore, there is a concert planned at the Baxter Concert Hall in Cape Town that Menzi will perform in, so all the people who have supported him so far can come and hear him in person,” says Davey.
She is now raising funds for him to attend iPOP in Los Angeles in December, an annual event which promotes emerging talent to agents. “He will have the opportunity to showcase his talent in front of more than 200 agents,” Davey says. She has no doubt that the opera singing Uber driver will go far. “He has a dream to perform opera internationally, and he is committed to achieving that dream.”
She and Mngoma have communicated every day since they met. “This past weekend, we were reunited in Johannesburg, when he was invited to perform at a private function. I will continue to support and encourage Menzi on his journey.”
Davey has gained hope from the encounter. “Negative stories about South Africa not only unsettle us as a people, but create a disharmonious environment. In order to bring about balance and to move forward as a nation, we need to strive towards achieving the spirit of ubuntu (humanity). This experience has reaffirmed for me that there is good in the world, and that by working together, anything is possible.”
She says her Jewish identity played an important role. “Judaism teaches us to be socially responsible, which is achieved through acts of loving kindness and the giving of tzedakah (charity). I believe that we all have the potential to make a difference in someone’s life.
“We need to be less self-absorbed, more conscious of one another, and most importantly, take action. As a child, it was instilled in me not to judge a book by its cover, and always treat people the way I would expect to be treated. If you can be anything in this world, be kind.”
- If you want to help Mngoma, or find out more about sending him to iPop, visit https://gotalent.co.za/send-menzi-to-hollywood.html