uZodwa Wabantu

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14min7030

To Zodwa Wabantu nudity is liberation and most likely an act of taking authority of her body as a black woman. While Adolf Hitler saw it as undignified and an error of taste- the disparity in opinion on the subject of nudity in society, is glaring as the difference between Zodwa and Hitler.

BEING NAKED…

There are those who cringe at any mention of being naked so much that even being bare in their lone self is daunting owing to battles with self-image. You know, the kind who are more comfortable with the lights off during coitus who dread showering with others.  Then there’s a section in society which gets aroused at the sight of breastfeeding nipples, a melancholy shlong, defiant thighs or innocent buttocks. This pack, which a lot of us gents belong to, has been socialised to translate the state of undress as sexuality.

It’s this group of guys which nudist Nombulelo’Lelo’ Asiya has gotten used to fending off in her DMs. “I can’t even just randomly open an image from someone I don’t really know, because I know there’s an 80% chance it’s a dick pick which I honestly find disgusting. In as much as I’m open about sex and everything, I actually find penises to be the most vulgar things out there, like yo put it away hey,” says Lelo.

The 25 year-old describes herself as a free-spirit, who has always had a fondness for showing some skin. “I don’t know what inspired my nudity, I’ve always liked skimpy or barely there clothing, I’ve always hated underwear and loved being barefoot,” she says. But a 2018 relationship breakup presented an opportunity for something she’s always desired, but wasn’t free to indulge in because of the partners in her life.

ALONE AT SEA: One of Lelo's shots at the the beach. Photo by Gifdick
BACK TO THE BEACH: One of Lelo’s shots at the the beach. Photo by Gifdick

“I’ve always been in relationships where my significant other has never really been comfortable with me showing my body to the world. Every guy that I have dated has seen my body as a private thing, something they could only enjoy; they always thought that if I was showing myself I was doing [it] to attract attention from guys. So in 2018 when I became single I just came out (literally, I became nude and bisexual at the same time), and I’ve been single and nude ever since,” declares Lelo.

“In all honesty if I had dated a man who was secure within himself to allow me to be my full self, I probably would’ve been nude long before 2018, probably around 2015/2016 when I first came to Durban.” Lelo is originally from Kimberly but moved to KwaZulu-Natal to study and then eventually work in the province. Having spent five years in KZN, she moved back home in 2021.

Lelo says her DMs gradually became dark and twisted as she posted more nudes. “The more open I became with my sexuality and sex in a general sense, the more brave men became in my DMs.”

The first ‘dirty’ photo she shared on Instagram was after getting a tattoo of a flower, which someone later reported to her family. “My mother knows of the nude content that I take, uhm I went viral on twitter around October last year and my sister snitched on me on that and my called and we had a conversation about it all and she’s cool honestly. She says as long as I am not prostituting myself, it’s my body my life and I can do with it as I please.”

THE INFAMOUS FLOWER TAT: Lelo posing for the camera in her bed.Photo by Panda @iamkingpvnda
STAYING IN: Lelo posing for the camera in bed.Photo by Panda @iamkingpvnda

MONETIZING THEM NUDES…

The audacity of men in DMs, has fast tracked the prominence of the direct exchange between the nudists who wants to monetize her nakedness and the thirst-trapped fan willing to pay for them nudes. A platform such as OnlyFans, which was not created to be an alternative erotic sites when it launched in 2016, has become an industry leader. Followers of the content creator pay a subscription fee to access the most sought-after images and videos.

Some of the biggest names on OnlyFans are people who stumbled into it after being cautioned many times by Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to refrain from posting raunchy content. Actress Rami Chuene was all over the headlines two years ago when she came out in full support of her daughter Nthateng’s OnlyFans account.

FROM ALL ANGLES: A shot of Lelo taken by friends.
NIPPED IN ALL ANGLES: A shot of Lelo taken by friends.

DM action is the norm on such platforms, where content creators take requests from their fans to perform a myriad of sexual or non-sexual acts. The growth of this sub-genre has disrupted the pornographic industry with actors now having direct ownership of their content, it has seen simple nudists turn into porn stars and has also evinced that a lot of men are satisfied with pleasuring themselves after paying a random damsel to act-out their desires.

Lelo has also began making money from her nudes a few months through the website ManyVids. “I do sometimes take request or curate special content but all of this depends on the type of request. I have strict rules on what I will and will not do. Yes I post nude pictures, but it’s not sexual content necessarily. I am more artistic with my nude content, so if there is a request come along those lines, I’d be happy to oblige, all for a fee of cause.” She uses ManyVids due to OnlyFans’ refusal to verify her account because she doesn’t have a smart ID card or a passport.

NO SHAME IN IT…

ALONE AT THE BEACH. Photo by SNZstudios
ALONE AT THE BEACH. Photo by SNZstudios

Lelo does not see this as glorified prostitution. “If I am going to be blatantly honest, it’s the same thing as sending your boyfriend a nude picture of yourself when you’re trying to be spicy in your relationship, the only difference is I get paid to do what I do, or you have to pay money to view my content. When I was doing it for free on Instagram, I would get so many DMs from men telling me that they are going to take my pictures and go masturbate to them,” she says.

“So I thought to myself, listen if they are doing this for free best they’ll pay for it so I moved my content to a paying platform. I do not regret doing that, men have even become more respectful towards me now that they have to pay for the images because they understand I have to work hard to maintain the quality of my content.”

“These aren’t random nude selfies, its actual production, professional photographers, lighting, steam; so much goes into my work. And can we stop this negative connotation people have towards sex workers. It’s a job just like everything else, it’s an important job as well. In all honesty, just think about it, if there were no prostitutes or online girlfriends, I genuinely think rape would be at a way more higher rate than it is right now. People like me, cam girls, strippers, prostitutes, online girlfriends etc, make it ok for people to be themselves. Doing what I do, I have seen people be their most authentic selves, no pretence, because they know with me I won’t judge them by their desires, I judge them by who they are as a person.”

An image of Lelo. Photo by Panda @iamkingpvnda
RED HOTT:An image of Lelo by Panda @iamkingpvnda
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8min15647

When the phenomenal Keorapeste Khositsile started poetry, the best way to get to people was probably through live performances. While the class of Lebo Mashile showed that television could be taken advantage of. Nomonde ‘Sky’ Mlotshwa is a culmination of both, dashed with the overt ingredient that is social media.

“Without social media I’m nothing,” Sky admittedly says.  “It would’ve taken longer to get gigs, interviews or the newly found recognition of Sky as quickly as it has if it weren’t for social media.”

The post ’94 era of hardworking poets such as Napo Masheane and Mashile has inspired this millennial generation to speak their words and not feel weird for wanting to make money off their art, from a young age. Not to suggest that the class of the Sipho Sepamla never worked hard, but they weren’t just working for themselves but were doing so with liberation movements against the draconian apartheid government.

This year marks a decade since poetry has been a catharsis to this East Rander. From jotting mere rhyme schemes to now receiving comments such as

“Nomonde I love your poems!!! Where were you all along…keep up the good work girl,” and “Muhle umsebenzi wakho MaMlotshwa,” from some of her viewers on YouTube.

 

Shot from her Samsung Galaxy Prime, placed on a window seal at home, the videos which were first only relegated to Facebook Notes until her manager suggested she share them with the rest of the world have now an average of at least 1 200 views on YouTube.

“Especially because it takes a little while for poets who are on the underground scene to get recognised, the world responded and so I kept supplying,” says the 24 year-old.

She posts the videos on a weekly basis, depending on the blockage to her writing.

 

Sometimes you would hear a train in the background in the videos, but disturbing as it is, it’s equally enjoyable because it’s authentic. She says her inspiration is spread out as her work ranges from how Zodwa Wabantu’s frolics affects us as a society, unprincipled married men or simply her high school crush-you’re captivated by her voice and everything else in and around the verse she’s delivering.  “For me poetry is a feeling, a vibe and a need to be at that time, so that’s why my dialogues are wide spread.”

She let her feelings known to Stogie T when he told a hopeful rapper to ditch the dream and rather focus on getting a decent job where he’ll be guaranteed a decent living.  While others decided to body shame Stogie, Sky was recording a video responding to the acclaimed rapper’s statement. That piece she recorded ended up a verse on Stogie vs Black Twitter.

“It has opened more poetry doors and receiving attention from a wider audience that wouldn’t really listen or vibe to a poet.  It has placed my name in a higher ranking,” she says of the collaboration.

As with other art forms poetry isn’t one dimensional in ways of generating income. A lot of today’s renowned poets are committed to their grind which rewards them with recognition as well as remuneration.  From MC gigs, literary and art festivals or even government gigs are some of the opportunities open for wordsmiths. Trio Magnum Opus has a column in the Saturday Star Newspaper’s poetry column, which they titled #PoeticLicence.

“One thing I am extremely passionate about is being a radio personality which thus far has boiled down to being a voice over artist. I also believe that other callings will emerge after I have grown as much as God wishes me to, to receive the bigger purpose.” Sky says. She recently worked with YFM to create a jingle for the station.

As much as social media has and will continue to connect her with people she never thought would appreciate her work, she still wants to break boundaries like those who came before her.

“I want to make a living off poetry, to wake up in different countries just to deliver my voice. I dream of a day where poetry is placed as a musical genre, where it grows beyond the internet. I plan to make poetry more highlighted in today’s youth so it may stand strong for generations to come.”

bntiwane@thabravado.com


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