‘I’m trying to change my family’s narrative’ -The Rise of Tino Chinyani’s Legacy

‘I’m trying to change my family’s narrative’ -The Rise of Tino Chinyani’s Legacy

When it comes to the concept of “legacy”, black people often have to grapple with conversations surrounding the legacy of slavery, Apartheid and of colonialism. With our history, these are unavoidable discussions, but for many, they can also be mentally and emotionally taxing. 

If the lives of a group of people are filled with so much pain and suffering that their descendants actually end up inheriting their trauma, how do these descendants begin to cope with their everyday lives? How do they raise their families in a place that’s likely to be haunted by a traumatising past?

For 27-year-old father, creative and media personality, Tino Chinyani, it starts with changing the narrative. The ambitious star has transitioned from being an international model and a host for shows like Channel O Top 5 Drive and eTV’s Morning Show to venturing into music and starting his own clothing line. This journey forms part of his grand design to build a legacy for his family, an empire that could change the narrative of brokenness and pain that is familiar in black communities.

“It comes down to the tattoo on my chest [ which states]: ‘Family over everything for at the end of the day the true measure of a man is the legacy he leaves behind.’ It’s a testament to the fact that beyond my time I’m trying to change my family’s narrative. I’m trying to put health and wealth on my family’s name. I’m trying to break the chains of poverty and mental slavery,” says Tino.

Tiyani Chinyani, his 1½-year-old son with ex-girlfriend and actress Simphiwe Ngema, is at the centre of Tino’s unreserved dream and quest for an empire. He calls this empire, Tiyani Afrika. “Beyond it being about money and wealth, it’s also about the mental wealth that I’m trying to leave behind”, he says.

“I want my children’s children to eat because of my work. Outside of music and clothing, I’m venturing into the financial and investment market and I’m also opening a digital marketing agency that’ll provide services that help people build their businesses. Tiyani Afrika empire is me making sure that whatever Tiyani decides to do, the businesses are there and he can work and make money as he pleases. ‘I’ll teach you, come.’” says Tino, speaking into the future and into that wealth of legacy that he knows his son will inherit. “‘You don’t have to go work for somebody else because I’ve built a legacy for you. I’ve built it so that you can one day take over and build on the legacy for your own son.’”

While this may sound idyllic to some, it’s hard not to admire Tino’s consistency and commitment to his purpose and plans. As he designs and constructs his empire, he is acutely aware and sharpened towards what he calls, “toxicity” in the music industry and how to protect himself from it.

“I find the entertainment industry to be very toxic and energy-consuming. That’s why I’m not really big on industry friends. In the South African entertainment industry, people think that you have to step on each other to get to the top, but if people switched their perspectives and decided to support each other, they’d all be millionaires. Unfortunately, ego and pride get in the way for people in this industry.

“People don’t want you to win, unfortunately. People can be full of pretence and I’ve gotten to a point where I value my time and my energy. I don’t entertain disrespect or negative energy. I’m only trying to focus on what my mission is and if you don’t align with that then you have to go. My peace of mind is very expensive. You can’t afford it.”

Indeed, his peace of mind is Tiyani. As Tino discusses his career and how his goals changed when his son arrived, the “Nothing For Free” musician sheds tears as he breaks his speech.

“Tiyani is magical to me. That boy…that boy saved my life. I got to a point where I had done everything that I could’ve possibly wanted to do in my career but when Tiyani came into my life he showed me that I can still do so much more…There’s no word for ‘love’ that I have for my son, there’s no word for ‘gratitude’ that I have for him because, even though I was scared when I found out he was on the way, he’s been my life ever since he came into the world.”

Tino, like many individuals who are among the millennial generation of parents, seems to be emotionally and spiritually invested in correcting the ‘brokenness’ of the past by strengthening family, empowering children and changing social scripts about absent/emotionally unavailable fathers and by practising conscious, mindful parenting for example. In this project of healing and restoration, there seems to be an understanding by parental figures (whether conscious or subconscious) that family is a microcosm of society and that societal healing can be found in the restoration of the family.

When asked about what message he’d like to leave for his son when he reads this in the future, this is what Tino says: I’m proud of you. I wish nothing but the finest things in life for you. I can’t wait to show you the world my boy. I can’t wait to give you everything that is good and pure that the world has to offer and until I give it to you I will not rest.

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