In the second edition of Conversations with Old Boys we chat to Siya Sangweni-Fynn, one our newest old boys. Siya, who matriculated from Westville Boys’ High School in 2013, is working his way up the ranks of South Africa’s “unscripted, uncensored and unradio” broadcast station, CliffCentral.com. For a young man who just more than a year ago was studying for his matric exams, he is already making a big impact.
“My experience during my five years at Westville Boys’ High School taught me not to strive to be ‘the best’ but to be ‘my best’. Striving for that has changed my life for the better.”
Biography of Siya Sangweni-Fyn in brief
Student Director; Head of Cultural & Publications Task Team
Works at CliffCentral.com, and is a host of weekday radio slot focusing on Untapped Talent.
Enrolled for a BA at UNISA
Conversations: Who was your favourite teacher at school?
I never had one specific favourite teacher. I tended to look up to and like different teachers for different reasons. I looked up to Mr Colin Lewis for being a true example of a gentleman, Mr Daniel Ludik for his blatant honesty and Ms Tanya Bower for being a solid support system. I looked up to Mr Devon Muller for his peculiar, yet always helpful advice, Ms Veronica Labuschagne for resonating with my ‘mental difference’ and Mr Stefano Vermonti for his classic one-liners. And I looked up to Mrs Lyndy Coombe for always practicing patience with me when I stopped by her office to remind her that she would have a prime seat as part of the audience of the ‘Siya Sangweni-Fynn Show’. My high school teachers went far beyond the curriculum. They helped to shape who I am today.
Conversations: Was there an important life lesson that you learnt at Westville Boys’ High School?
Westville Boys’ High School taught me not to strive to be ‘the best’ but to be ‘my best’. Striving for that changed my life for the better. The School taught me not to live my life according to other peoples’ benchmarks and stereotypes, but to rather fulfill what makes me come alive and what I am passionate about.
Conversations: Do you have a memorable moment on the sports field that you would like to share with us?
I am a self-admitted spectator rather than a player. I did however ‘try’ to play soccer in matric. I turned out for the 8th soccer team. I do not remember the opposing team or the final score. The reason this occasion had a huge impact on me was because it was the very definition of brotherhood and support. I was frank with the team that my soccer skills were horrible, but my fellow Student Leaders urged me to play because they wanted to share one of their last few moments on the sports field while at WBHS with me. That alone was enough for me to feel an overwhelming sense of brotherhood. The team was headed for a win, but they changed the game plan to ‘Help Siya Score a Goal’. In the end I did not score a goal, but what made the moment amazing was that my teammates were prepared to sacrifice it all just for me to feel included and share in the total experience of the team.
Conversations: Do you have a memorable moment in the cultural space that you would like to share with us?
The most memorable moment was undoubtedly winning the title of Best Speaker in KZN for 2013. According to Mr Robinson no one from WBHS had won this title in 30 years. It happened on the same day as one of the final performances of the musical production, ‘Shake It Out’, for which I was a cast member. That day ended on an even bigger high when I was given a special line to recite: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” That quote describes my experience at WBHS as a whole.
Conversations: What advice would you give to a primary school boy considering his high school options on why he should attend WBHS?
Westville Boys’ High School will change your life! It’s as simple as that. There is no better way to describe the School.
Conversations: What is it like to look back at WBHS as an institution now that you are an old boy?
I look back at WBHS in awe and pride. It can justifiably be called a ‘damn fine institution’. I am filled with pride when I think of the high calibre of gentlemen it has produced. I am proud to call myself a Westville Old Boy.
“Westville Boys’ High School will change your life! It’s as simple as that. There is no better way to describe the School.”
Conversations: What do you see yourself doing in five years time?
I go with what I feel is meant to be and not put too many goals in place which might only be a drop compared to the ocean of what is intended for me. Having said that I do aspire to have my own show, the ‘Siya Sangweni-Fynn Show’.
Conversations: How did you get onto the CliffCentral.com show?
It is such a typical 21st century story mixed in with divine manifestation. It was late 2012 when I started following the @oneononesa twitter handle. I soon realised it belonged to Rina Broomberg, Gareth Cliff’s manager and business partner. We interacted for almost two years. Once I had matriculated I had intended to intern for a magazine. But finding myself in Johannesburg, I had a meeting with Rina. Three days later I was hired as Rina and Gareth’s intern. I have learnt that if one is to impress a potential employer one has to take initiative. Do more than what is expected of you because it will make you invaluable to your employer.
Conversations: What are the growth prospects for CliffCentral.com?
As it is something we are starting from the ground up, the possibilities are endless.
Conversations: What does you work at CliffCentral.com involve?
At 5:30am the team meets to gather last-minute content for the ‘Gareth Cliff Show’. From 6:00 to 9:00 I do whatever helps to make the show a well-oiled machine of a production as it is broadcast live on www.cliffcentral.com and on a WeChat account. For the rest of the day, among other things, I work on my own programme, Untapped Talent, which airs on Wednesdays at 9:00am.
Conversations with Old Boys is a project of the Westville Boy’s High School Foundation, in partnership with the Westville Boys’ High School Old Boys’ Association