Zola, Wherefore Art Thou?


Assert your right to make a few mistakes. If people can't accept your imperfections, that’s their fault.

I do not prescribe to any notion that we all have to follow some “rules’ imposed to us by those who deem themselves worthy of shunning others if they do not conform to their idea of how one should conduct himself in our society. However I do believe that as no man is an island and by virtue of being part of the human race you inevitably have to live your life with the consideration that sometimes your actions can have a negative effect on those who look up to you or live among you. This is more poignant when you are living your life under the glare of the public eye. When one enters the world of entertainment they are invariably also surrendering their life to public scrutiny. With that in mind, how then does one draw the line between his/her right to privacy and hypocrisy when he/she wants to keep certain information out of the public platform?

I have always been of the view that every individual who gets into the entertainment industry gets into it knowing very well that once they do so people will pry into their lives. I have always found it a bit off-putting when this very same people who would do anything to get their names on the papers will suddenly say they want to be “left alone” once they have made it to stardom. I have always thought that if you don’t want people to talk about your private life then don’t become a public figure, go be a teacher or something. However my view was recently shaken when I heard a Zola’s song and remembered how vilified he was for things that if any other person were found to be engaging in, it would not be a huge deal.

One of the greatest talents we have had in this country, Zola, was dealt a huge blow to his career when he found himself embroiled in a sex scandal (or was it just baby mama drama). Judging by his disappearance from the industry one can only assume that he hasn’t been able to shake off the scandal yet. Assuming, and hopefully this is not the case, that he doesn’t recover from this blow would what has happened to him really be fair? The brother has talent and logic would dictate that that alone should be able to redeem him from his fall from grace but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Zola was (or is) the embodiment of what “turning a new leaf” in Mzansi is. With the world cup fever on a high someone like him would have been the ideal person to fly our flag high as he was able to tap into the consciousness of our nation in way that only politicians of yesteryear could. I am not a kwaito fan nor have ever bought his cd but I admired his drive. There are many inspiring rags-to-riches stories but his was a South African story rooted in the tenacity of this great nation’s people to prevail against adversities and still emerge with a drive and a pride fit for warriors.


I pondered on this issue (and I have to admit that this “waka waka” nonsense song drove me to missing Zola) and felt this is not fair. Then again I thought, Zola knew that people were always looking to see what he’s up to so he should not have put himself in a position that would give his “enemies” ammunition against him. Still, this would have been a different story if he had been on our television screens singing “halleluyahs” and “praise the Lord”, then went out and engaged in acts that are contradictory to that. That wasn't the case.These days an artist’s work is secondary, in terms of recognition, to the image the media project of them. We as a society buy into that and start expecting our artist to be those images we see. There was a time when interest in artists was for their artistic abilities rather than who they sleep with or what drugs they take, now the latter is what propels an artist to recognition (good or bad) before the public can appreciate his or her artistic prowess.

This unfair and disturbing trend within our society is wrong. People do not choose to be our role models, we do. Just because you live up to someone and have unrealistic expectations of them does that mean you now have a right to demand them to live up to those expectations? I think not. If someone is a public figure does that mean all of the sudden they have to live their lives according to our script? Do not get me wrong here, when you as a public figure put yourself in a position where you pretend to be something you are not then it’s fair game BUT when someone pries into your life and finds out something about you that you have never made part of your “celebrity’ image do they then have the right to vilify you for it?

Someone like Zola never claimed to be a saint. We just chose to see him as such. He never stood on a podium and said “I am a one woman man”. Yet many of us felt disturbed and some even disgusted when it emerged he had been bedding women like there is no tomorrow. Sadly this may have caused him his career. Not to belittle the pain of women who get lied to by bedhopping men ... BUT ... here a few vindictive opportunistic women cry foul after they chose to get into relationships with him knowing very well that he can’t keep his zip closed and a man’s life is practically ruined. Zola's womanising ways have been the murmur of the media for years. Yes, he got what was coming to him but everybody deserves a second chance and I can’t think of no mortal soul in SA more deserving of that than him.

Remember this; no one is perfect especially when it comes to relationships. Even the couple that we all aspire to be, the very same couple that we marvel upon on wedding days, that man and a woman who sit atop of that perfect cake; they too are not perfect. One way of realizing that is to look at that cake one more time and you will see that they are not even looking at each other… shouldn’t “the perfect couple” be locked into each other’s eyes on a day they show the world that they are madly in love?


Authour Henry David Thoreau wrote; “One cannot too soon forget his errors and misdemeanors. However, to dwell long upon them is to add to the offense.” Mzansi misses your talent brother, it’s time to bounce back lest we forget, in your prolonged absence, your admirable contribution to this industry. We all make mistakes.

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