Johannesburg - There was nasty backlash on Twitter when pop star Toya Delazy posted a picture of herself wearing ibheshu (traditional Zulu attire commonly worn by men) at a ceremony celebrating her grandfather’s – Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi – 90th birthday.
She was told she is a disgrace to Zulu culture.
This week, back in the UK to release the music video for her song London Town, Delazy told City Press that her Zulu critics should try and be more like their elderly chief, who is more woke than them.
The ibheshu, she said, was not a rebellious act, but a thanks to her famous family for allowing her to embrace her individuality.
“When I was growing up, the likes of [all-woman maskanda group] Izingane Zoma and some abasinayo [girls who sing and perform] used to wear ibheshu and those are the people I used to look up to. I was like: ‘I cannot wait to wear that’... I honestly don’t understand why when I wore it there was a lot of noise,” she said.
But there was more to her ibheshu.
“What made my outfit different is that I used goat for isinene [the front part of the attire]. I was honestly thinking of girls with different gender identities. So I thought because the goat is often the odd one out and it is pure it would work for those who feel like they are peculiar. I just wanted to represent my heritage.”
Delazy says the homophobia she met on social media was not there in her upbringing.
“When I looked at history and spoke to my grandfather about [Zulu people within the LGBQTI community] and if such a thing had happened before he said yes, there was a place called Enyameni where they would put men who were homosexuals together. There has always been a catering for gender, I don’t know what changed and made people so fearful and created such hatred.”
The whole incident has made Delazy more determined than ever to speak her truth.
“I am honestly tired of people who want to control women and tell them what and what not to wear. Gender identity is something personal; it is like religion, it’s your own thing. We shouldn’t be fighting people because of who they want to be. But more than anything I am grateful for the support my family gave me,” she said.
“My grandfather gives me hope that it is possible for tribalism to end. He is a 90-year-old man who is woke, understanding, who is not judgemental and accepted me for who I am. If a Zulu man, the prime minister of the Zulu nation, someone who is tribal to that extent, can grow and understand the world now, it is possible.”
And she’s not about to leave social media. “I am very grateful for platforms like these. We are able to have conversations and have debates. I believe the more we speak about it, the more men will realise the toxicity they have been giving off. We need to understand that these are just features of being human, they are not threatening your existence.”
. City Press apologises for certain misrepresentations which have since been corrected.
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