Khaya Mthethwa is the first black winner of South African Idol. After seven seasons of the show, there has never been a black winner. Raised by pastors, Mthethwa was always surrounded by strangers and church. His family started their practice in their living room and often took in people who needed a place to stay. Although his parents were encouraging, they did not approve of his entry to South African Idol, but had a change of heart once he made it through the competition.
Nicknamed P.K. for “Pastor’s Kid,” 25-year-old Mthethwa is a self-taught percussionist, keyboards player, guitarist, music composer and church music director. In this week’s competition, over 3 million voters made his dream a reality. Many say that the reason South African Idol had never had a black winner was because the show aired on a subscription channel. That meant viewers must pay-to-vote, only leaving voting options for the white middle-class.
This year, it was believed that many black voters purchased additional phone sim cards to vote for Mthethwa.
Mthethwa beat out finalist Melissa Allison for the win. Fans led her stage entrance with a “boo” during the finals. Speculation arose as to whether or not the contest was rigged to ensure its first black winner, but Mthethwa responded with this statement: “I joined the competition because I love music. Secondly, it saddens me that every time there is an achievement, it comes down to black and white or is political in some way.”