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The Big Debate with Siki Mgabadeli

6 January 2014
The Big Debate with Siki Mgabadeli

The Big Debate is a current-affairs talk show hosted by radio and television journalist, Siki Mgabadeli.  

We caught up with Siki who shared her views on success, TV, and current affairs.

What is The Big Debate about?
The Big Debate is about providing a platform for citizens to question and hold those in power to account. It is the old-fashioned town-hall debate where all views are expressed and heard. I believe that it’s revolutionized the way we do current affairs in South Africa.

What can viewers expect to see on The Big Debate?
Viewers can expect robust debate, South Africans from all walks of life voicing their opinions and personal experiences of South Africa today. We also have an episode filmed in New York, where we examine the global problem of maternal mortality and here, we see a global perspective on a problem facing South Africa.

Are there interviews/topics on The Big Debate that stood out for you?
The episode on worker’s rights was quite powerful – hearing from the widows and those injured in Marikana touched me greatly. I also had to hold back tears when we filmed an episode on children’s rights, a young girl in the audience spoke of losing both her parents and being raised by her 16-year-old sister. A grandmother spoke of the pain of losing her four year old granddaughter. These experiences, shared on a public platform, make it very difficult for our leaders to ignore the pain in our society.

What is it about current affairs shows that you love?
I love the mini-history making aspect of it. We are a part of that process every day, documenting what powerful and ordinary people feel and think about the changes in our country and the world as they happen. The adrenaline that comes with bearing witness to that is something I could never replace.

You’re not a newcomer to TV – what is it about the industry that you love?
I love telling stories and being part of the history-making process in South Africa. TV is in a unique position to tell and show our stories to a large audience.

Have you always wanted to be in television?
I didn’t always want to be on TV – I simply wanted to be a journalist, and tell people’s stories. Initially the plan was to be a documentary producer, but I was offered a job on the business television channel Summit TV as a business news reporter and the rest is history. When I was a child, I wanted someone to pay me to read books… I’m still waiting.

To what do you owe your success?
I work very hard. I think if you really want to make a success of anything that you do, you must be willing to put in the work required. There are too many instances where people want success but are not willing to put in the hard work. I also work with really great people who push me to work harder. I have a great support network of family and good friends who keep me on the straight and narrow.

What other TV shows do you love watching?
I watch the news channels (for my sins). I also love watching the documentary channels – I find the documentaries fascinating. But, when I simply want to escape, I watch the channels with TV series and entertainment.

Watch The Big Debate every Sunday at 10AM.