She’s known as a rule-breaker, a hustler, a woman who doesn’t care about norms and taboos. So it’s no surprise she’s turning tradition on its head once again and doing things her way when it comes to the man she loves.
Zodwa Wabantu (35) has never been shy and when she made up her mind that it would be happily ever after with her much-younger bae, Ntobeko Linda (24), she took matters into her own hands. The big moment happened at Eyadini Lounge in Durban, the place where she first rose to fame.
“That’s where I am free and everyone is in a happy mood,” Zodwa says. “I also like that people at Eyadini are chilled and not fussy.”
Zodwa called Ntobeko on stage at midnight and he had no clue what she was about to do. He thought she wanted to show off as she usually does when they’re at the trendy spot.
“Zodwa talks a lot, so I thought she wanted to tell people to stop calling me funny names,” Ntobeko explains.
He was shocked when Zodwa went down on her knee, holding a ring in her hand.
“I was surprised. Everything was surreal, I thought she wanted to tell me she loves me but she went down on her knee.”
Zodwa admits she almost ditched the proposal plan.
“I was nervous because I didn’t know how he was going to react. And rejection is painful, so that made me a bit nervous but I am a go-getter.”
Luckily, Ntobeko was open to the idea of marriage.
“I was shocked, trying to take in everything,” he tells DRUM. “But I don’t have a problem when Zodwa shows me love because I also show her my love for her.”
ZODWA is no stranger to controversy. She rose to fame for her dances at the Eyadini Lounge in skimpy, no-panties outfits that left little to the imagination.
Zodwa, whose real surname is Libram, started making thousands of rands just from appearances at taverns, clubs and music shows. As she gained popularity, her prices and notoriety went up.
So when she told the world she was dating a younger man, no one batted an eyelash. She did, however, raise a few eyebrows in February for “test-driving” coffins, finally settling on a R150 000 coffin so that one day when she dies everything is paid for.
But her latest move has drawn more criticism than usual. She was desperate, some said, and was going against culture. She doesn’t care, says Zodwa, who bought herself an engagement ring and bought one for her man too.
“I’m doing everything I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t wait for someone to do something for me when I can also do it. I wasn’t going to wait for him to propose to me. I wanted to do it, so I went with my instinct.”
The couple met in 2013 but only started dating the following year.
It’s been five years of bliss, yet ever since Zodwa posted a loved-up picture of them on Instagram last year they’ve been criticised for their 11-year age gap.
But the couple aren’t bothered by what others think.
Ntobeko loves being with a woman who constantly surprises him. “Not even in the movies have I seen a woman propose to a man,” he says laughing. He’s always told Zodwa he’d marry her once he had enough money to pay lobola, Ntobeko says.
And while Zodwa beat him to it, he’s not crushed. “I didn’t have money but she knows that I wanted this to happen.”
The next step is lobola negotiations.
Because Zodwa did the proposing, she’ll be paying the lobola, she tells us proudly.
“That’s what I’m more nervous about. I don’t know how his family will react but I’ll do it anyway.”
Zodwa says she’s prepared to pay up to R80 000 for Ntobeko, who works at a bank in Durban.
“If they want more, I’m afraid I don’t have it,” she says, chuckling.
Ntobeko will have to convince the rest of the family to accept his bride-to-be’s
lobola money later this month. “We’re black people so this isn’t something we do. My family was surprised and shocked because they don’t know
this thing. They don’t know what it means, especially the elders. They told me this was taboo.”
Usually a man will send the bride’s family a letter telling them of his intentions to make her his wife. The two families then come together at a pre-arranged date and the woman’s uncles negotiate the lobola on her family’s behalf.
Once the lobola has been accepted, the bride would welcome the groom’s family into her home in a traditional ul
wamkelo labayeni event. At least his mother, Nokukhanya Linda (44), has given him her blessings, Ntobeko says.
“My mom says if I’m happy, there’s nothing she can do. She won’t dictate how I should live my life.”
But their love is stronger than all the criticism they’ve received, the couple say.
“The people who are judging me, if they were in my position they would have also accepted,” Ntobeko says. “I’m not full of pride – that’s why I didn’t hide that she was the one who proposed.”
She and Ntobeko’s mom have a good relationship and that’s all that matters, Zodwa says. “If I have her on my side, then I’m done.”
Ntobeko says when he has money he’ll still pay lobola for Zodwa. “When I have money I will also pay something for her. I spoke to my mom and we both agreed that I have to pay something for her as well.”
SHE’S a woman cl aiming her power, Zodwa says. Her lobola negotiating team will be all women, for example.
“I don’t want to involve men in this because it has nothing to do with them. I’m doing this for women.” And she’s proud of being the one who proposed.
“Men don’t want to marry us anymore. We stay in relationships for more than eight years and still, no marriage or lobola. I didn’t want to wait.”
Zodwa prefers it this way rather than giving money to her boyfriend to propose just to impress the public.
“I didn’t want to do that. I hate pretending, so I wanted to do things in the open so people know the truth. And besides, I’ve always done things the way I see fit.”
She’s also been open about everything on social media – which brought out plenty of trolls.
“My family is happy for me but I’ve been called all sort of names by ordinary people on the street for taking back our power as women.
“But everything we were told we couldn’t do as women, I’m doing. I’m setting a trend for them to also do what makes them happy.”
Zodwa doesn’t care about the nay-sayers. “I’m tired hey, I just want to be happy. I’ve reached a stage in my life where I know what I want and I do what makes me happy.”
Keeping the proposal a secret from her bae was the most difficult part of the whole process, Zodwa says.
She bought the rings at Gateway Mall in Durban early last month and hid them from him.
Ntobeko’s engagement ring was R4 600 while hers was only R3 200.
“What was important was for me to put a ring on his finger. He only put mine on after, so we could match,” she says laughing
The couple have started planning their wedding and Zodwa has bought herself a custom-made ring worth R55 000. “I had to go all out, I’m not planning on getting married again. It’s only going to happen once and it’s forever.”
She has also started looking for a wedding gown.
Ntobeko hasn’t gone shopping for his wedding band yet but he’ll get to choose it this time around.
Ntobeko says even though Zodwa will be the one paying lobola she’ll take his surname. “I’m not going to change my surname, only a woman takes her husband’s surname.”
They seem to be on the same page with everything. They only have one thing they don’t agree on now – children. Zodwa has a 14-year-old son, Vuyo Libram, and doesn’t want any more kids. But Ntobeko can’t stop thinking about being a father one day.
“We’ve talked about it and she said she doesn’t mind but just not now. But I’d love to have a child because I don’t have any.”
Right now, apart from wedded bliss Zodwa is focused on building her brand.
She’s filming her reality show, Zodwa Wabantu Uncensored, which is being aired on DStv’s Moja Love channel from 25 May. Shooting the show has been tiring for Zodwa. The teaser trailer shows a lot of eyebrow-raising events, including her history with long-time nemesis Khanyi Mbau.
“A lot of people didn’t know Khanyi and I have a history. She agreed to be featured in the show to tell her side of the story.”
Zodwa once had an affair with Khanyi’s ex-husband, Mandla Mthembu, she tells DRUM. But to hear the rest, people will have to watch the show.
No doubt Zodwa will be as uncensored as ever.