Young MTV star launches vegan restaurant

Image: Facebook

At just 20 years of age, Innocent "Inno" Matijane has turned his passion for entertainment and business into a reality. The radio personality opened the doors of Healthy U restaurant on July 8 - and is set to join the talented cast on MTV Base.

Matijane's effervescent personality shines through as he reflects on his accomplishments and aspirations. He has always been an extrovert. "I like to make people laugh. I was very vibrant. I would perform at every concert that the school would host."

Motivated by a need to not only see changes in his life but in those of others, his passion for people was the driving force behind opening Healthy U.

While hunting for an alternative place to eat vegan food, Matijane came across a "small nyana shop". Intrigued by its menu, he knew he had to be part of the business and approached the owner, Tathy Ntumba, then and there. "I was, like, ‘Listen, I want to make this restaurant bigger and introduce it to the world.’"

The pair worked on a collective vision for the restaurant but it was Matijane's keen need to see it grow into something bigger that inspired him to take the reins. "And then boom! I'm opening a restaurant."

Matijane is animated as he shares his journey from high school jock to being part of the entertainment industry, which he loves. However, it has been not always been easy, as he struggles with depression.

"I've dealt with depression my whole life. I was always excited and always happy but a lot of people never knew that behind closed doors, when I went home, I just wanted to cry myself to sleep and had some suicide attempts."

He shares that although he deals with it much better now, as an adult, he had issues in his youth. "I would be so rebellious to my mom. I would break her furniture — I would break her TV and, if she didn't fix it, I would yell at her."

Matijane notes the entertainment industry is often guilty of being insensitive about the difficulty of living with depression. "The more people talk about it in an amusing manner, the more they hurt people," he says.

By dealing with his depression - by talking (mostly to his mother) and through religion – he has been able to focus on making an impact on the lives of others. One of his favourite projects saw him working with the US embassy in Lesotho. He was also involved in assisting with events for Kick4Life, a charity that addresses socio-economic issues through sport.

Healthy U has been open for business since July 5 but will have a big official launch party later in the year. You can follow them on @HealthyU_ZA on Twitter, @healthyuwellnessresturaunt on Instagram and Healthy U on Facebook.

Five fun facts about Inno Matijane:

· He was 10 years old when he started his first job Finite Magazine in Lesotho.

· In high school, Matijane was in the rugby team, did long jump, debating and public speaking.

· He is an exercise and sports science graduate, a career choice inspired by his family's approach to healthy living.

· He is also a talented musician. His parents helped pay for him to record some of his music – he raps as well as singing.

· He was the Free State Centre for Human Rights Ambassador at the University of the Free State.  

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