Zodwa Wabantu, the self-proclaimed and “misunderstood” queen of Gqom, spoke to The Citizen last week about her career as a dancer and entertainer.
Despite the many derogatory names some have for her due to her skimpy outfits and dancing without underwear, Zodwa says what she does outside her house is her job – her way of putting food on the table and sending her son to the best schools.
“Before people got to know Zodwa, I was a debt collector. I’ve also worked as a bar lady and, yes, I’ve always loved going out and partying and obviously drinking alcohol because I couldn’t keep a man or even try to keep a man,” Zodwa said, indicating that this was her way.
The entertainer, who recently rose to fame through dancing without underwear, taking her panties off on stage and wearing next to nothing in public appearances, says she is glad to finally be making decent money.
“I love dancing. It’s a form of expression for me. When I dance I forget everything; I forget life.”
Zodwa says growing up poor prevented her from thinking about her dreams or where she would like to be in life. All that she could comprehend was her need to survive.
“There was so much poverty while growing up. I was struggling daily about how to survive. I didn’t have time to look after my dreams, or think about what I wanted to be. It wasn’t a comfortable situation.”
The dancer says losing her mother at the tender age of 11 forced her to develop a thick skin.
“I had to grow a will and need to survive. That is why I’m sitting here today.”
She says people have always been a bit too judgmental towards her, even before the fame.
“I’ve always been different,” she says.
“This is not about fame or me dancing. If I was forcing what I do, I wouldn’t be famous. It’s hard to break into the industry, more especially if you are not a singer or an actor.
“However, now I’m hanging out with legends. I greet the Black Coffees and your Oskidos and your Tiras. So, do you think you are better than me? We know you sleep with grandpa and Johnnie Walker Black. You are miserable. At least I’m an entertainer. I get paid for what I do.
“Imagine if you try to stop me from doing my job. That means I would have no income and would have to come to those suburbs and have your husbands take care of me,” she says, urging naysayers to let her be and do what she needs to do to make a living.
“I’m a socialite; an actor. Let me make my money being an entertainer.”
Zodwa says that, irrespective of the negativity, she loves everything about what she does.
“I make some people angry, and I make others happy, so most don’t know what to do with me, but they continue supporting and following me. They say they want Zodwa Wabantu in all event posters.
“I know I’m delivering my message in a different manner and it comes from someone who doesn’t have matric; a person who always thinks I force my face and say,‘Guys look at me and recognise me; no.”
Zodwa says staying true to herself got her where she is today, and she won’t change that.
“People will always talk.
“At least I don’t bother anyone. I work for my money, unlike the women that hang out in clubs and wear revealing clothes, unlike a message from those so-called educated women, those who feel they are better than me, but the message is the same. It’s just that we are given different platforms,” she says.
Zodwa explains she is trying to tell women that no matter your size or shape, you can wear whatever you wish, when you want, and be comfortable in your own body.
“Whether you say I’m a bad influence and question how people can look up to me, I still stand for those who are really underground, vulnerable, in shacks and squatter camps; those who are deep in the townships and struggling. I’m not lost. I carry so many women behind me. I know I’m different, but let’s not fight one another,” she pleads.
Watch part 1 of The Citizen’s chat with Zodwa below: