Tuesday, September 28, 2021

INTERVIEW. Anela 'Smash' Majozi on Survivor SA: 'I'm not R1 million richer but I feel very richer for having experienced this show.'

by Thinus Ferreira

Anela "Smash" Majozi smashed his way to second place in M-Net's Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island, making it to 39 days and just losing out to Nicole Wilmans.

You're a math educator and a rugby player. How would you say did you math skills help you in Survivor?
Smash: That's a good question, I think obviously when you are a math teacher you have a very a naturally, strategic, analytical way of viewing things and looking at a situation.
I think when it came to problem-solving on my feet, it really did come to the fore in that regard. 

In instances where I was faced with situations and looking at it from different points of views, I was naturally able to navigate it from different angles and what a better move forward might be.

I wish it came out a little bit more in the puzzles and stuff but from the homework I did do to prepare for the show I thought: Let me not put my hand up for puzzles. I never, ever wanted to put up my hand for puzzles while we were still in our tribes.

You're also a rugby coach, and a rugby player. As a team sport it's constantly drilled home that you need to be a team player, and we're all a team. How did you adjust between playing coach and playing an individual strategy?
Smash: Both are of big importance just at different stages of the game, particularly at the beginning when we were still in tribes that was the name of the game: be a team player, encourage the players. So the coaching was more there.
Obviously once we got to merge it became more an individual game – that’s when the player Smash came out. 

That's when it was, "okay, gloves are off, you're fighting for your life now". For me both of them played a big importance – it was just bringing them out at the correct times.

You're a big guy. Chappies. Some of the others. Some of the girls and others are physically smaller. When it's time to divide up the food it's the same quantity for everyone. You don't get more. 
Correct me if I'm wrong but you actually get weaker therefore quicker. If you're bigger like you, how do you navigate the situation of getting even less food than others?
Smash: You ask a brilliant question there, I mean, I've also wondered why. Chappies lost 12kg, I lost 13kg so it definitely takes a bigger toll on us sort of having to downsize all of the food. 

I probably got onto the show in arguably some of the worst condition I've been in in more recent years. 
My normal weight is about 83kg, 84kg and I've been 93kg, so in all honestly to adjust to eating less was challenging but as I got lighter than when the athleticism improved. I felt that as my weight got lighter I got quicker so I actually welcomed the "lack" if I can say.

You took a cowboy hat which I think was the best piece of clothing besides maybe a waterproof, thick jacket. Was that a deliberate decision?
Smash: It's obviously hot out there and I wanted something to protect myself from that but the significance with the cowboy hat in particular is – some of the contestants would know – I had written on the inside of that, in the lining of that hat – I've written messages to myself to just keep me going.
For instance, all glory goes to God; and small little phrases like "I will be the winner". So for me, I was always very intentional where I saw myself landing up, and when times were tough that really did bring myself back, and helped to calm be down.
During quarantine before the game started I had time to watch SuperSport's Chasing the Sun documentary and Makazole Mapimpi and the achievements in his life and where he's come from. 

I wrote in my hat just his name. 

And when times were tough I would think: There's nothing that says you can't be what you want to be in life. If you have the intention and you have that goal and vision, the only person stopping you, is you.

That small little hat literally gave me all of that, so I was very grateful for taking that. 

When you stepped off as the first of the three in the final immunity challenge, did you think now you're definitely out, or did you think that you still might have a chance going on as one of the final two?
Smash: Sjo, it's a very good question, I think at the time I was sort of there I think I felt that either way  these people – both of them view their chances in the final as being better with me being there.
So that's how I perceived things then. I could clearly see how Nicole could argue her game against mine and that she carried me there, plus we had that really solid relationship. 

So I thought if she wins, I'm going. On Chappies' end, again, we spent a lot of time together from Zamba 2.0 and I felt that if you just draw strength to strength comparisons, I thought he also fancies his chances winning against me. 
For me it was a personal victory to last that one hour 58 minutes. 

I was really on the sidelines for only 15 minutes or so. Now that I've seen it from the perspective of home and a fan, it's interesting to see that Chappies as he outlined in the finale that he might not have had a better chance with me in that final.

What did you learn about the experience?
Smash: There are so many amazing things I could take away from this experience. 

I feel that everything happens in the way it's supposed to happen and anything that happens that I miss on in life was obviously not meant for me and I have no regrets with how everything has happened.
This is going to change my life going forward and I've learnt a hell of a lot on the good side and the bad side of things. 

I didn't know how much of an influence I could have on someone else's decision making process. Obviously  as a coach and as an educator I'd be pretty bad at my job if I couldn't motivate someone's thinking. 
I was quite surprised at how effectively I was able to do that. The relationship building I've always knew I had. I'm a nice guy and I'm a flirty person and I get on with people. I knew that part of me was going to come out naturally. 

But then weaknesses that I was able to identify, having played the game of rugby, and being a coach now and always having this temperament of being resilient and that you are going to win – it was humbling to realise that you're not invincible.
If you know where your weaknesses are and you know where your boundaries are, then you can better then or say, I'm going to focus on highlighting the strengths. 

The most important thing is just being grateful for how everything played out in the end. Although I'm not a million rand richer, I feel very richer for having experienced this show. I made amazing friends that I'll probably have for life now and life lessons that are priceless.

It's an insane thing to do or want to take part in, like climbing Everest. What would be your advice for people for someone even remotely considering entering Survivor SA?
Smash: My key pieces of advice would be, if you're going to play, play to win. 
And I say it with the greatest respect to the cast because obviously it was fast and furious from the jump, but you can almost immediately identify the people that are here to play and have a strong chance of going all the way, and the others that are just happy to coast along kind of thing.
Secondly, the deeper you get into the game, you're probably going to be revealed more – the core of yourself. 

With that in mind, yes – there’s obviously a right time to highlight yourself or downplay yourself – but be as true as you can be as an individual because it's bound to come out anyway.
If I reflect on my game personally, I knew that I wanted to be this strategic player or physical but I knew even with that in the back of my mind that the thing that makes Smash, Smash is he is friends with everyone. That was my strength. So I naturally just played my own strength. 

I didn't shirk away from it but I knew that that was the thing that was going to get me there. You can see it when I spent 5 days with Zamba 1.0 and they still saved me over Dino and Qieän who've spent all their time and that was not for nothing besides that I genuinely got to know these people. 

How are you dealing with the fame aspect? You've become an iconic character associated with Survivor SA fandom. People will forever seek you out for advice and to tell stories of your time. How do you handle the fame of it now?
Smash: It's been surreal. For me personally I feel like when you do things well, or when things go well, you want to take the least amount of credit, and when go bad in life, that's when you put your hand up and own it.
For me, I like to stay in the shadows, I don't necessarily want the fame and stuff. 

I was genuinely just playing for the million. Having said that, it's been absolutely incredible and overwhelming just to see how much this show means to and how big Survivor is to so many people. 

If you're going to engage with it and you're going to engage with the fans and you're going to engage with the show, there will be good and bad that you'll see and that's welcome to. Everyone must have their opinion and everyone's opinion deserves to be heard. 
I've really enjoyed engaging with every single aspect of this game. It's crazy and it really hasn't sunken in. When people want to have a photo with me, I think but I'm just me. Ha ha. Why do you want a photo with me? But I'm really appreciative of it.
I try my level best to, if I'm ever speaking to someone – there’s an age old question that you get where someone asks, "How was it?". And you've probably been asked that a thousand times all of us as contestants. 
But I try to answer it to someone like it's my first time answering it because I know for them – either meeting me or engaging with me – even if I've been asked these questions a thousand times, this show means so much to someone, I  want them to experience Smash like it's the first time. 
If someone asks me for a photo I never say no. If someone want to have a quick chat the energy will always be up. I'm so grateful for that stuff – that again is not something you necessarily go looking for, but it's really appreciated.