Are there any superlatives left that we can use to describe Bonang Matheba? Because she clearly is beyond description right now. We also want to pray the way she does at the beginning of the year and also want to know what she says when she prays because every single one of her dreams just keeps coming true. At the back of what has probably been the best year of her career as yet, she is closing out the decade as the first winner of E! Entertainment’s People’s Choice Awards African Influencer of the Year.
Nominated alongside the continent’s biggest musicians, including Tiwa Savage, Wiz Kid, Yemi Alade, Davido, Cassper Nyovest and Diamond Platnumz and TV personality, Minnie Dlamini, she was able to snatch the award from their grasp. It’s surprising mainly because she was up against a couple of Nigerian musicians and if you know anything about our West African brothers and sisters, is that they vote hard for their compatriots.
But then again, Bonang has made inroads into the continent, is known and well-loved by many and is probably the most famous African media personality. She will be going to receive the award on the red carpet at the People’s Choice Awards.
Ahead of her trip to Santa Monica to accept the award, we spoke to her about winning, moving to the US and what the highlight of her year is. Kudos on the E! Entertainment win. Does it get old winning these awards for you?
Not at all. It inspires me to go even higher, to the next level. It keeps me going and my brain keeps ticking. After I have conquered one level, I go to another one to try and conquer that too. What these awards actually do, besides keep me on my toes, is give me a sign that I’m on the right direction.
You’ve always wanted to be on E! Entertainment- is the dream still there or has it become bigger? That dream is still big. Ryan Seacrest is still the template. I’ve mimicked the way he has done things as a TV presenter and also his business acumen. It’s great that I have worked for E! Africa, which was a dream come true. E! Entertainment is the next step.
So there’s a plan in motion for that?
I’m moving to the US after the Sun Met next year and the plan is to get to put the plans in motion. It’s overwhelming, but while we are praying and hoping, we are also making sure that we are prepared to hit the ground running in New York.
Do you think the term influencer is taking over from celebrity, or will celebrity remain? Because I think you are more than an influencer…
Yeah, I am not an influencer. I am influential though, by virtue of my career as a TV presenter, producer and now as an owner of a wine brand. This is an opportunity for me to educate E! And the US about African stars. The people I was nominated with are major stars, the biggest celebrities in the continent. They are more than just influencers. Do you think that influencers have forced the traditional celebrities to rethink how they do things, and approach being a celebrity and their brands?
Oh absolutely. Influencers have shaken the table and most make more money than our celebrities, which has woken them up to quickly evolve and make sure their brands work for them. Even traditional media has seen the effect of influencers and the digital world and have been forced to change the way they do things.
2019 was a great year for you- so I want to know: what was in your prayer in the beginning of the year?
(Laughs) It’s always simple. I pray for peace, happiness and also challenges. Mainly challenges that will put me in different situations and places that will enable me to grow. I prayed for the success of House of BNG- which has been the biggest highlight of my year. The way that people have embraced my bubbly blows my mind. Bonang will receive the award during the red carpet ceremony from E! Africa’s Kat Sinivasan, at the event in Santa Monica on Monday, November 11, 2019. This interview has been edited and condensed for context*