Q&A Sessions: ‘Media isn’t dying, it’s changing’

Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa, chief executive of global internet company Naspers, has held senior posts in investment and development banking. She tells Tshegofatso Mathe about her family life in Soweto and her career, including with Cyril Ramaphosa before he went back to politics


Raised in Dobsonville, what kind of child were you? 

I was a child that listened. My mom was a Xhosa woman, and she was strict. My dad did not believe in corporal punishment. But now and then, mom hit us. 

So I picked up this habit that I would keep quiet until I heard my dad’s car come in, then I would start screaming [laughs].

But it had an impact on me. It made me realise that you can have a way of dealing with issues without any physical engagement. 


My parents had routines for us. Routines on what to do after school and cleaning our home, but sometimes we would not follow it. I liked to read. I loved it so much that I would go to little corners in the house so that I could. It was also a way to get away from doing housework. 

I enjoyed ballet as well, but in grade 11, my mom told me to stop and focus on my studies. But in my heart, I still had this thing that I could go and become a ballerina once I was done here.

There’s a lot more to this story.

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Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian.

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