Sipho Kaleni-The Giant Of The Airwaves Tribute

SIDmedia Adventist World Radio (AWR) Station manager, Sipho Kaleni passed away on the 1st of August 2022, after developing body organs complications. It is hard to believe that the person behind the golden voice on AWR Radio station, powered by SIDmedia is no more. Born in 1975, Sipho was poised for greater things, as evidenced by his talent. An electrical engineer by profession, Sipho joined broadcasting a passion that saw him touching many lives during his career.

Born in a family of Two boys and three girls namely: Sizwe, Nomsa, Thembi and Boniswa, Sipho was such a darling to his mother. His big brother Sizwe said, “Sipho was our youngest brother and yet his works portrayed him as our Big Brother. He was passionate about sharing the gospel with others.” Sipho Kaleni  started his primary school at Smobobo primary school and then went to Chapula High school for his matric and then Springs Technical college, to study Electrical Engineering. Sipho started his broadcasting career with SABC, then Radio Pulpit, then Power Gospel and he also did some work with Gold Field mines as a motivational speaker. When it came to radio broadcasting, Sipho Kaleni was an expert in his field with over 30 years’ experience in the electronic media, mainly radio. During his career, the industry recognized his talent and this was evidenced by the amount of times he had been nominated for the MTN Radio Awards as well as the Liberty Radio Awards. Sipho was crowned the winner at the 2015 MTN Radio Awards and these are just some of his accolades and accomplishments.

Sipho Kaleni joined SIDMEDIA, an institute of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, producing Christian radio and television programmes for AWR and Hope Channel, on the 1st of September, 2021 as the station manager, a position he held until his death.

Within the first 6 months of his employment at SIDmedia, Sipho established and managed to setup the Adventist World Radio (AWR) Powered by SIDmedia, with a talented team of engineers and radio producers. His talent was evident by his leadership skills. Working hand in glove with his immediate supervisor, Saneliso Moyo, the Adventist World Radio was launched on the 6th of March at a colourful event at the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division Head Quarters in Pretoria in South Africa. Hundreds of people converged to come to witness this brand new baby and many could not believe what Sipho had achieved in six months. On the day of the launch, leaders from the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, SIDmedia, AWR Director for Africa and invited guests, witnessed the official opening of this brand new on-line radio station that is broadcasting world-wide, sharing the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking during the launch of the AWR SIDmedia Radio, AWR Director for Africa Immanuel Ogwal said, “This is new AWR powered by SIDmedia radio station is going to be a game changer in media evangelism”.

Speaking at the same occasion, Dr Solomon Maphosa the former SID President said, “I have worked with radio myself and I know the power of radio in transforming lives for Christ”.  SIDmedia Board Chairman, Dr Hopeson Bonya also emphasised the importance of media as a tool of reaching out and spreading the gospel. He said, “This AWR Powered by SIDmedia,  is fulfilling the scriptures as tabulated in the book of Matthew 24:14” .

Sipho’s  mission was to broadly go where no other Christian radio station has gone before. On his first live broadcast on AWR with his programme entitled, Maranatha Drive, Sipho made a calling and sister Grace Maoka from Daveyton gave her life to Jesus. More miracles were to follow, as on the 30th of March, hardly a month after the AWR radio launch, AWR SIDmedia working hand in glove with Mooikloof SDA church had their first baptism of 9 souls and for Sipho, this was his mission, thereby living to the motto of AWR, From Broadcast to Baptism. Supported by a pool of dedicated young broadcasters and pastor Michael Maforo, Sipho continued with AWR Radio Activations in promoting AWR works in the country and the following month, 10 more new people gave their lives to Jesus and they were all baptised at a colourful event in Rosebank in Johannesburg. For Sipho, this was his mission, as was always his mission statement. “We need to keep the main thing the main thing. I want to give glory to God for these newly baptised members. This is our mission to point others to Christ.” Echoed Sipho.

Speaking live on one of the live AWR broadcasts, the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division President, Dr Harrington Akombwa said, “Today we are witnessing a lot of radio and television stations in our territory and this is indeed heaven’s appointed divine instrument to take the everlasting gospel across the world.” Sipho Kaleni was not just a visionary, but a good teacher who empowered and equipped all his team members. During his two months in hospital the AWR continued to run smoothly, a sign that Sipho had done a good job. Those who have rubbed shoulders with Sipho, can testify that Sipho was indeed a gift from God and his departure has left a big void in the SIDmedia team. Zanele Zama one of the radio Producer/Presenters said, “ I am what I am in radio broadcast, because of brother Sipho Kaleni”.  SIDmedia CFO, Patience Shumba summarized Sipho’s stay and his life at SIDmedia as follows: Sipho came and delivered and he transformed our radio dream into reality and we will miss him so much.”

One of Sipho’s great achievements, was to put AWR on the Radio Garden App, an App which enables anybody across the globe to tune into AWR Powered by SIDmedia. Sipho Kaleni was laid to rest on Sunday the 7th of August 2022 in Springs, in Gauteng. Hundreds of people converged at the cemetery, to bid farewell to a man who was so loved by many. Family members, friends, workmates and industry colleagues were all heartbroken as they said their goodbyes to the giant of the airwaves.

Sipho Kaleni is survived by his beautiful wife Brenda, and their three children, Nozipho, Sipho Jnr and Sihle. The AWR SIDmedia team is greatful for the services that Sipho Kaleni rendered to the organisation in such a short span. We are all comforted by the following bible text from the book of 1 Thessalonian 4:16 as we await His second coming and I quote: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

We all await for that glorious day, when the Lord will descend from heaven to take His own to heaven.

Article: Noel Sibanda

Photography: Lyndah Natty Mdluli

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