MY #IKASIORIGINALS ARE MY CHAMPIONS

 

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At midnight on the 12th of August 2016, I was involved in a tragic car accident that led to me losing a great friend and left me fighting for my life in an intensive high care unit for almost three months.

Since that fateful night, my life has taken a drastic 360-degree change.

Mentally, spiritually and physically, I have a different outlook on life, people and the world.

I have grown to understand that God exists and is alive, and that is a non-negotiable fact because of my personal experience with him.

That I made it through over six major life-changing surgeries and the fact that I am alive, that I can walk, and that I still smile still shocks many people.

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The path forward…

Through all that happened, my passion for being photographed lived on. It became part of my healing process. My story didn’t only have an impact here in South Africa, but my social media presence (@madame_blog) brought me to the attention of a London based media company – Barcroft TV and they documented my journey.

Once this was released on YouTube, my interaction with millions of people reacting to my story sky rocketed.

Here is my feature on Barcroft TV – Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHCsn2QVT-w

To me, #iKasiOriginal means to tell one’s story in an authentic way without sugarcoating any of the details. The documentary focuses on the matter of fact aspects of my experience, but there is more. The truth is that I would not have made it through all of this without the presence of God. Also, I would not have felt good about my body without the never-slacking efforts of my Champion iKasi Original photographer @ian_lewis_onbekend who made sure we pushed the boundaries of originality and in-your-face content. Our regular photo shoots taught me to look past my physical scars and embrace them.

He is an #iKasiOriginal because of his attention to detail and willingness to work with a stubborn survivor. Our weekends were filled with capturing my post-operative body in a variety of natural and urban contexts. At first, selfishly, it was all about me, but as time passed it became a relationship where my photographer and I became one with the environment we were in. This led to true #iKasiOriginal content in locations ranging from Durban to the Drakensberg.

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This content became about more than my situation. It increased my interaction with #iKasiOriginal survivors around the globe.

It also put me in contact with influencers from all walks of life who were inspired or touched by my story, and this led to features and retweets from people such as @itslisawelsh @marieclairesa @beautyrevolution_za and @pieterhowes.

Without family, this journey would have been a very bleak one. Through physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual breakdowns my family were my #iKasiOriginal through their love and support for me.

Sometimes my content is ruled by my emotions and when this happens Jonathan Oliff -@Oros is that person who motivates me to be more positive. He is an #iKasiOriginal because he never lets my darkness change his opinion of me.

But who are my #iKasiOriginals? Every single person who has reacted, commented or shared my story, images or tweets. Without them, I would not been able to make it through this challenging journey or help others in similar situations.

So find the #iKasiOriginal in your life. Dig deep, evaluate and value those who make a difference in your life – be it physical, social or emotional – because the people who help us through life’s most challenging times are the true Champions of our success.

Click on these following links to read more about #iKasiOriginal project.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/originalchampion/

Blog: http://ikasioriginal.co.za/ikasioriginals/fashion

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheOriginalChampion/

 

Durban Fit Night Out was EPIC

Some of you do not know that the weekend on the 7th July 2018, Saturday, was the greatest day for most South Africans who are in fashion, entertainment, and horse racing events. Thousands of South Africans were at the Vodacom Durban July, while some were in Ballito, Sugar Rush Park engaging in workouts.

It happened that I was one of those people who chose to be in Ballito for a Fit Night Out workouts and for some of you that don’t know anything about #FNO. It was launched by Women’s Health in 2016. Powered by Adidas. It started in Johannesburg then Cape Town and finally it came to Durban through Shield partnering with Women’s Health Magazine SA Fit Night Out.

One of Shield’s primary reasons for partnering on this event was to empower women by giving them the confidence they need to take on the day and be #ShieldReady.

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Images: http://bit.ly/2O4Yvz0

Ladies across Durban could not contain their excitements as the work out party of the year finally arrived in their hometown. They came out in numbers and well prepared to take on the day. As someone who was there mostly to capture moments and observe what was happening. It was interesting to watch ladies conversing and setting fitness goals amongst each other “Starting today, I will dedicate time for an exercise” said Tess Mushaka engaging with other ladies and that’s what I call the renewing of mind then the body transformation begins to reflect afterward.

Remember, it’s the starts that stops many dreams from coming to existence and seeing ladies excitement while holding bags packed with different goodies they received on the day. some of them being Adidas yoga mats, skipping ropes, Shield wireless headphones, caps from Adidas & Shield as well as deodorants motivated them to continue on the fitness journey they have started.

Don’t get it all wrong. I was also participating in a few activities.

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Image: Women’s Health Magazine

We had a privilege of being trained by our favorite fitspiration stars, Mapule Ndhlovu, Sbahle Mpisane aka FitnessBunnie and Nkateko “Takkies” Maswanganye and many other brilliant gym instructors including the Virgin Active gym instructors. Bear in mind that each of these fitness queens & kings was showing off their unique workout styles at the Shield stage during the course of the afternoon. Some of these exercises were easy to crack while some were tough, having said that, ladies were still pushing until it was night times. fun and fitness kept going on with all sorts of activities including yoga, dancing, burpees and other cool activities from different instructors.

Video: http://www.instagram.com/madame_blog/?hl=en

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Image: https://www.instagram.com/madame_blog/

What made the day more exciting was that everyone was aware of what to expect on the day, what was in their goodie bags and more surprises kept showing up as the day went by. All thanks to the Women’s Health Magazine SA for collaborating with other big brands such as Shield SA, Adidas, Powerade, Hullets ZA, Virgin Active and Total Sport.

We all aware that, where there’s a group of brands collaborating in one campaign, there’s bound to be fun memories & goodie bags to take home with. In a nutshell, all the attendees left sweating with unforgettable sports goodies and prizes.

Thanks to the http://www.instagram.com/womenshealthmagsa/ and all the other brands that sponsored and made Durban ladies day outstanding.

#WomensHealth #NeverDone #ShieldReady#EquipSweet

The secret behind my boldly colourful hair & hairstyles

I get a lot of questions, I mean really A LOT of people ask me:

Why that colourful hair & hairstyle though?

Mind you, I get asked these questions by every race group in person and often online. However, I get a lot of judging faces from my own kind – black female hatred is real.

I once got beaten in the face with a Checkers plastic by some random black girl in town. Thank Goodness I was fasting during the time. The inhuman in me did not come out. I composed myself and did not react out of anger, but instead, I just stood there. I watched her for some time while I tried to figure out where she knew me to do that to me. But then I realized what she just said whilst throwing the plastic bag in my face. It simply meant “I don’t like your hair girl so I will react badly to you”. She said “What is that thing on your head?” and continued laughing at me with her friend.

I never thought I would experience the day where a Checkers plastic was wrapped around my face just because I am confident enough to rock my hair in public. On that very same day I got home and shared the incident with my twin sister and my friend Tess; but they burst out with laughter as always, and I was left standing there with a straight face, worried about what would possibly happen to me the next time when there are still people who find humour in my Checkers plastic bag beating.

Before I go further with my story I just want to make it clear that my hair is not going anywhere, definitely not anytime soon. So deal with my “weird, intimidating looks.”

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What happened to normal hair colours like brown and black?

  •  Well, maybe it’s not me? I refuse to limit myself when I can explore multiple ranges of colours.

WOW! How do you do your hair like that, it looks so cool?

  • I guess I am overly passionate about my hair to care enough for it the way it makes nobody else tick but me first. FYI, I do my hair all the time with the help of my twin sister. Just so you know it a lot will be impossible without her involvement.

How often you do your hair? 

  • As often as it suits me but usually every two months and it’s bound to be something fresh.

Which hair extension brands you use? 

  • I consider myself a loyal, educated consumer, so I stick to what I know best and that is @Darlinghairsa and @KinkyWorldofhair 
  • Their brands are good for my hair beauty and look
  • They both accommodate my hair flexibility to the extreme
  • They allow me to play with my hair just the way I want it, so why not use what works for my hair and my confidence boost

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Why all these colours? 

This is the most frequently asked question that you have all been waiting to hear the answer to. Well, I will not make it easy for you.

Like I mentioned before, I get different looks from people every day accompanied by a few questions and compliments. I would like to believe that the story behind my hair is very much worth telling and inspiring. However, you will be disappointed to know that I do not make it easy for you to know my story. I don’t tell it for the sake of storytelling but I want you to take something out of it & vice verse. 

I keep delaying the answer to the question because there is no other way to find out unless of course, you treat me with a cup of cappuccino. In isiZulu we call it “Imvula Mlomo”. Not to tell a thing until what’s needs to be done is done. 

I can literally count the people who know the full story but guess what? In the past year, I realized that I am a coffee addict and am currently sorting out my problem. But before my BIG addiction reveal I had noticed the fascination people have when it comes to my colourful hair and style. So I thought to myself “Why not make it worth the time they spend listening to me?” We are all aware that the stories shared over tea or coffee get more interesting as the time together progresses.

I had to do something – so I made up my mind that I will not tell my story unless there is a coffee in my hand. I want to share my story whilst feeling the warmth, smelling the aroma, and sipping that cappuccino. I know it’s a manipulative trick but I have to do what I have to do to tell my story in a way, state and place that will ONLY allow me to be real, comfortable and feel good while I am sharing it.

I remember when I started working at Gorilla Creative Media and was asked to do an introductory presentation explaining who Nelisiwe Zuma is. I felt it would be an incomplete introduction without mentioning my love for colourful hair and cappuccino. I made it clear to all that if anyone is curious about my hair that I am more than available for a cup of cappuccino downstairs where we work. Trust me, I have gone out with a few and it’s the best mutual benefit ever. 

Guys, I kid you not, I would not tell you the story unless you are taking me out for a Cappuccino. Your homemade coffee will not unlock my story.

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My main point is, I am always available for those Cappuccino talks and believe me it will be worth your while and your investment in our local coffee industry. From these coffee meetings, I always take something home with me and you will do the same, and if you want confirmation of this you can ask Jeannemari Rogers, Ian Lewis, Tess Mushaka, Zamagatsheni to mention just a few.

If you want to know the full story then take me out for a Cappuccino.

Make use of my DM and if you have days where you want to be serious like myself here’s my email: zumanelisiwe0@gmail.com 

Social Media takes fake to the extreme

Ever since the arrival of bloggers and influencers in the digital industry, their main competitor has always been celebrities but with technology always finding new ways of doing things, they came up with a new creation that’s currently turning heads on social media.

Influencers and bloggers, I believe you are very much aware of your soon to be worst nightmare competitor in the digital industry. The Computer Generated Social Media Influencers.

As a concerned representative of influencers and bloggers. My main question to the masterminds of artificial inventors is,

LINKEDIN BODY POST1. Does it ever cross your mind that your creations could affect people?

2. To elaborate more on my first question, human influencers have established a good relationship with the very same big brands that your creation are collaborating with; did you think of HI Influencers risk to unemployment?

3. Do you think you contribute towards job creation or job alleviation?

While I am trying to get into minds of artificial creators and figure out if human beings are a priority or not. Can we shift our minds for a bit to Elon Musk? (The CEO of Tesla and Space X) who mentioned something very profound during his meeting with Mark Zuckerberg. As forever intelligent as he is, he said “ When dealing with technologies lest humans lose control of their creation”, which in other words means that technology is very much a “Fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization”.

So, in my understanding, Elon Musk was asking us to not take away from people or their creativity but instead to better their lives creatively with the aid of technology. After all, this is not a one mans world to benefit from.

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If you are as active as I am on social media, you will know that Lil Miquels (@lilmiquela), Bermuda (@Bermuda) and Shudu (@shudu.gram) are a talk on social media. They have caught the eyes of many social media followers and regardless of the fact that, both these CGI Influencers have revealed that they exist on cyberspace but not physically, however, brands still turn a blind eye and are STILL collaborating with these CGI Influencers on social media to promote brands and products.

These CGI Influencers are flooding our social media feeds with their cool motion designs, photographs and content. They look real and dress real but all of this makes me wonder and pose a question to brands.

Brands, while we are still shocked by the newly found scandal that you buy followers, likes and engagements for your brands’ social media pages, you are now involved in this lunatic, inconsiderate deal with the ghosts Influencers.

      1. Isn’t using CGI Influencers misleading to your clientele and consumers?
      2. How does an artificial influencer resonate with your everyday human?

With all being said, I would like to hear how the most affected group feels about this situation and I would like to know if they agree with Elon Musk’s point about technology and humans? Bloggers and influencers, please share your opinions and enlighten me on how you feel about this new concept and how will it affect your line of work?

I wish I could say more but I do not want to bore you so I will leave you with my thought on this new competitor. When inventing something new, we need to be cautious of whether we are building or smashing down bridges with each others as humans.

We can have all these amazing creations that makes the world go crazy, curious and fascinated but without humans, can we really survive this thing called a beautiful life? Let’s not forget about each other’s needs and wants and let’s not end the means to go fulfill them.

 

I would like to hear your perspective of this new creation of CGI Influencers.

Thrillers For Gorillaz Presentation

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Did you know that working at Gorilla Creative Media had made me feel AWESOME about myself? My obsession with Gorilla began when a colleague from my previous job spoke amazing things about the company culture, the people, the brands and the environment.

RULE 101: Do not say exceptional things to me about something and expect me not to be curious.

Every afternoon on my way home, I would see Gorilla signage from the M4 and it would bring the best feeling as I would start to visualize myself and the team content strategizing on the balcony, holding a cup of cappuccino.  Yes, the feeling was fulfilling but my stomach would start rumbling out of fear.

I had heard of the work Gorilla produce for their clients and the Awards they have won and that makes me wonder if I was ever going to be that good enough to work for them. “Such a highly well talked about agency in town, hire a not-so-experienced and if not so capable rural girl” – I would say.

After an accident and having all these injuries, I felt so worthless and incompetence in my work because every few months I had to put up a leave form for another surgery.  while in the hospital and expected to rest and heal, I would over think about how inconveniencing my life has become after the accident.

However, I had forgotten how words and thoughts carry so much life and death and fortunately for me, it carried life – I mean light :).  After months of fantasizing about Gorilla and how cool it will be to work for them, I received a Linkedin inbox message followed by an email about the job interview.

To my disbelief, I called a friend to go over my email just in case I read or interpreted it incorrectly. She approved it is what I thought it was. I had to go for an interview, I had to see what everyone talks about and by the end of the week, I received an email back saying, I quote “Hi Neli, Well done! Please find an attached letter of offer from Gorilla for the Community Manager role :).

Please let me know if you are happy to accept and then send me your signed offer of employment asap. You can send the other documents thereafter. Congratulations!”

From that day, I promised to let God be God and let him do what only him can do.

It sounded so good to be true but I thought, I just shot a documentary by a London based TV Media, what can be cooler than that. That was my best week ever but let me tell you this folk. As soon as you begin to speak life and truth over your life, things begin to fall into place and that is what happened with me. God is taking me on a different journey and whenever he feels to say “Neli, it’s time you prepare yourself to relocate in another country or leave your job and volunteer” I will go where his spirit leads me. If he blows the wind in a different direction, that is where you will find me.

I have noticed this about myself, I turn to put God in a box as soon as I enter my place of work, just as I do when I find myself in a place sadness, hopeless and doubtful moments but the truth lies here. God only wants what is best for me and you.

I know that I am sheltered in his presence and I believe I am at Gorilla to serve my best with no limitations to grow my skills. God wants me to be active, creative, innovative and be productive and I promise to be just that in my place of work.

As always, I have just deviated from the original topic but if you know me well you will not complain but comply and get used to it 🙂

[Back to the Topic] 

Within a week of working at Gorilla. I had to introduce myself to the Team of 40 + creatives and awesome people. At first, I thought to myself, I will set up the powerpoint presentation on a slide show and let it play on its own. It did not cross my mind whether I should take them through it or not until my Manager told me that I will have to speak through it.

You could have seen how anxious I was but she believed I can do it and so I had to put on my smile and believe in myself. Before I knew it, I was done and everyone was happy to know about a newbie :).

I don’t know about you but I have to be honest and say “I find this introductory idea very interesting, thoughtful and important and what makes it even cooler is that it’s not just an introductory platform for newbies but it’s an ever continuous platform where you can post interesting learning and trends just to keep the team updated through presenting it in front of everyone. This idea has given me the greatest hope to perfect my public speaking.

Check my presentation and leave a comment below 🙂

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Thank you for watching.

 

 

Fear you have no place in my life

I have been asking myself this question for some time “Why do I have so much fear that people around me even notice how it has affected me.

I have sleepless nights, my entire face has reacted badly with pimples and my body feels as if someone has been beating it with a Sjambok. I overeat for someone who shouldn’t be but apparently, my twin sister who by the way is very observant thinks that I have lost a few kilos and she has seen that every time she massages me.

A part of me feels as if I have underestimated how the thought of going for a Post Ventral Hernia Repair had an effect on both mental and physical spirit. Having to deal with it now was the hardest thing most especially because it has always been on my mind ever since and also, there has been a lot of changes in my life and I needed to adjust in so many areas of it.  so much happened in a few months, getting baptised at Olive Tree Church on Florida, getting a new job at Gorilla Creative Media, shooting of my documentary by a well-known TV Media based in London called Barcroft.TV and preparing for my operation just to mention a few.

I believe none of you was aware of this but I have postponed the surgery dates twice and both times was due to fear. Not so much fear of physical pain but of body transformation and learning to accept my body again. Not only had I find comfort and satisfaction in my current body transformation but I had promised myself that I will do anything to avoid hospital stay even if it means I drag my surgery date. Everything about that place takes me back into the world I would rather forget. I can’t bear the memories I have of both ICU and High Care Unit not to mention the horrendous experience at 4Fward unit. Believe me, I can write series of stories about what nurses do to patients at 4F Ward Unit and how vital it is for the Minister of Health to interfere and look into it with in-depth lenses.

It is clear that the unconsciousness from the nurses goes a long way and that, there is more to it than just the statement “They mean and abusive to patients”. Had the Minister looked to ways to better their days at the workplace through counselling sessions? searching for a purpose and calling, and maybe they will find it again. Reminding them that there is more to their job than just an every month paycheck. They nurse and save lives.

We had a serious emotional chat with my brother in law – Zolani Masemola and his lovely wife Sinethemba Masemola about the staff nurses and what had gone wrong with their conscious, Zolani suggested that counselling could help, he continued to state that “nurses bear too much daily” how he had stated it awakened me to see beyond what I have concluded about their behaviour towards patients.

I have a tendency not to stick to the original story, enough about the nurses for now and back to the OS…

When I told my Doctor’s that I am going back to work, they did not seem to approve of it, I could see it in their faces and their response as I engage with some of them on WhatsApp but they never said I should not go back. I believe they did not want to make decisions for me but they kept telling me to take a good care of myself. They would say, “Be gentle Neli, you need to rest, rest”.  little did I know that all along, they feared for my health, both physical and emotional.

A few weeks after I went back to work, I would disappear now and then and go to the ladies room where I used to cry my lungs out, then come out after I have outdone my facial. and that wasn’t because of Nkonzo’s passing and had nothing to do with my struggle to adjust to my new life with a colostomy bag at work or that my back was in pain due to using the public transport but it was something small as the sound of a printing machine. Every time it would beep Ti…Ti…Ti, something awakens memories of deep pain.

At first, I thought it would stop and that I will get over it. I would say ” I will take it like a strong black lady and not show that it has an effect in me”  but until this day I am still in fear that the machine will make a sound and I would react with a bucket of tears out of nowhere.  “What if people think I was hallucinating or that I had PTSD”.  It is never my intention to frighten or drag anyone into my world of fear with me but the sound of a printing machine takes me straight to the first time I woke up in ICU after three weeks. The sound of ICU equipment was the first thing I could hear and apparently “I started panicking, I began to pull out all the plugs and pipes that were in my mouth and my nose”. I remember waking up and both my arms were attached to the hospital bed that I was lying on. It was the first time I felt like a prison 🙂

Maybe I am losing it but that sound, that noise, no matter how far it is. It leaves me fearing for my life, freezing and drowning in my own thoughts, thoughts that I wish no one can ever experience. hopeless and dead thoughts.

With all that fear, at first, I thought to myself “What damage would it make if I do not go for the post ventral hernia surgery and just keep my stomach the way it is – I mean, “I have already found comfort in it, people are aware of it and seem to be comfortable with it”.

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Sometimes, I honestly feel like I was born this way, with a skin graft stomach.  I have grown to fall in love with how my intestines dance inside of me and make a funny noise when they are hungry, grumpy or happily full after feasting. There is no part of me that wish any better than what I am right now besides my spinal back operation. I look good, feel good and I do good for myself. Why should I go for this surgery” – I would asking myself.

But I guess my questions were all not thoughts well off. firstly, I have no muscles in my stomach, meaning that I cannot control my intestines. The more I eat, the more they expand. I have been battling to go on dates with guys because I would fear that if I eat a lot, I would look totally unsexy and totally different in my outfit. I know you might be thinking, then you should try to eat less when you go on dates. I am sorry hun, but when they smell food, there is no compromising for “THEM”. It is all about “THEM”. and worse of it all, they can smell good food from the distance and begin to jive on my stomach like a baby kicking on its mummies stomach. I could feel and see every move they make and I can tell when they react out of hunger and not gladly full.

Also, they dislike when I less feed them, they will humiliate me with a loud noise and that means “We are still hungry, feed us more”. They behave the same as when I had a colostomy bag.

Secondly, having a stomach like mine means that you are always at risk. It would not be wise decision to get pregnant while still have a patch because HELLO, I have no control over it, remember it keeps expanding. I can imagine what would happen, KABOOM :).

And thirdly, I am easily open to danger. Let’s say that by any bad luck I engage in any misfortune fight and some ratchet person stab my stomach – deep in the bottom,  it would go straight to my intestines and they might burst and that would cost going back to having a colostomy bag and that is the last thing I would want to happen. not having a colostomy bag was a highlight of my LIFE.

This Wednesday, the 9th of May 2018, is the day I have been avoiding for months but it has finally arrived and yes, I still have fear and I am so damn tired of having to get used to my body transformation that comes with so much package;  discomfort, pains, bandage dressings every two days, visit at the nearest clinics, dealing with the staff nurse bull shark,  blood, infections, unhealthiness and feeling sick and not being able to do things for my self-sucks big time..

But, let me be real for a second and share wise words that I have received from a friend. “You have survived a lot of surgeries Neli, so this is nothing but a last stamp from God” – “Lungi Mthethwa”

How has fear been a liar in your life?

Recovering From Tragedy

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A month ago I was approached by a lovely lady named Lisa Welsh if I would be interested in being featured on her website page.  I was asked to either do a selfie style video sharing my story or something important to me or any message and format that might be comfortable for me, so I chose a write up story.

Every Friday, Lisa use her website as a space for female expression. Through photography, sculpture, video, writing, dance, song… you name it.

This is what Lisa came up with from one of the stories I have published on my LinkedIn account.  “Neli was the victim of a horrific car accident, which claimed a close friend and left her fighting for her life. While she has recovered and is enjoying life once again, Neli has been left with scars, both physical and mental.

Miraculously, she has overcome her injuries and is recovering from the tragedy of that day. She found strength in faith and the people around her.

Today, you could almost forget that Neli has experienced such trauma. She is vivacious, colourful and full of light. She inspires many by sharing her story with the world through social media and her blog.

Neli intends to share the full story in a book (The Miracle Patient) and she has recently caught the attention of London based, Barcroft Media, who will be flying to South Africa to interview her soon.

Here is Neli’s Story

“In August 2016, I was involved in a tragic car accident which led to me losing a great friend and left me fighting for my life in an intensive high care unit for a two-month hospital stay.

My life has taken a drastic 360-degree change ever since that fateful night.

Mentally, spiritually, and physically I have a different outlook on life, people, and the world itself.

I have grown to understand that God exists and is alive and that is a non-negotiable because of my personal experience with him.

That I made it through the tragedy still shocks a lot of people. That I am alive, that I can walk and that I still smile through it all. Doctors rejoice every time they see me and some break into tears of joy.

Is my life ever going to be the same again? NOPE.

Should I pity myself for it? HELL NO!

We live most of our lives unaware that it’s the little things that are more important. How much of a big deal it is to have both your little toes working just perfect. It isn’t until a tragedy occurs that our eyes are opened to real big things. I would hear my granny complaining about her back pains and think to myself, “she’s just lazing” or “spoiling herself” but in all honesty, you do not mess around with your back.

Losing A Friend

Losing a friend was not easy. I still struggle to believe that he is gone. Not to mention the anger I have for negligence from the authorities. Sometimes, I wonder how things would have turned out for him if maybe, just maybe they paid a little bit more attention.

It was when I was told about his loss, that I began to take the incident very seriously. I felt really angry and I blamed so many people. I asked myself:

“Why me, I have been very acceptive of so many things in life and now this, I hate my body, it disgusts me.” 

The Lessons In Pain

The physical pain was overwhelming. But the mental pain was terrifying.

  • I had a colostomy bag for 10 months
  • There is constant severe pain in my back
  • I was afraid to be alone because I hated myself and was scared I might even end my life

God reminded me something.  “To be able to get your attention, some things in your life had to go wrong and some things had to change forever, but for the better.”

God has fixed my life in a way that no one else could.

I’ve started valuing life more. I taught myself to be gentle with myself and to accept my body transformation.

God has been tremendous in my life. He keeps exceeding my expectations and most importantly, he keeps exciting me.

You know why? Because he knows that he created a happy, bubbly and influential person and he will do anything to keep my face happy. 🙂

My Purpose

As a woman of prayer, I decided to fast for 5 full days. I told God my story and asked him to lead me where his spirit wanted me to be.

I have come to realize that everything I do revolves around me making a difference. Now I know that I want to touch other people’s lives through my story.

Without my faith, and the support of people across the Globe and especially my South African people, I wouldn’t have been able to put my life back together.  I have no words to thank you all for being there when I needed you the most.”

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Influencer Marketing Vs Celebrity Endorsement

It has been proven by many influencer marketing experts Influencer Marketing and Celebrity Endorsement are two very different options for brands to include in their marketing campaign and that the two do not operate or function the same and both options result in very different results.

“I’ve actually learned first-hand that brand advocates and micro – influencers have the potential to recruit long-term brand advocates into your brand, which (surprise-surprise) is much more powerful than generating a one-off sale” – Philip Brown (hyperlink to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/theres-something-you-need-know-influencer-marketing-philip-brown-1), Head of Influencer Marketing & Brand Advocacy

But what’s the difference and how will your brand benefit the most from one or both?

 

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Source: http://bit.ly/2ubYoru

 

Celebrity Influencers and endorsements

It is no surprise that celebrities have more followers than influencers but just because your favourite celebrity posted about the newest perfume you must be wearing or music festival that you just HAVE to attend, that it is credible or a genuine post from them.

Brands continue to throw money at them, most recently the failed Fyre Festival, where models and celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski, were paid $250 000 to endorse the event, while other high-profile Instagram users were paid $10 000 per post shared on the platform, failing to disclose to the public that these were paid posts, all against the Federal Trade Commission. These influencers had legal action taken against them citing “Social Media ‘influencers’ made no attempt to disclose to consumers that they were being compensated for promoting the Fyre Festival. Instead these influencers gave the impression that the guest list was full of the Social Elite and other celebrities.”

In other instances, these endorsements have been found out by the celebrities themselves, sharing more than what they should – remember when Scott Disick shared the notes from the brand on his Instagram and Twitter?

It might be an exciting way to get people interested in your product or event, but the repercussions to your brand could far outweigh the benefits.  Often the content of this paid endorsement or post come across as forced and unauthentic but there is light at the end of the tunnel if your brand wants to go down this route. Work with the celebrities to ensure that it sounds like the celebrity, let them tell it in their own brand voice and when their audience is naturally engaging with the celebrity.

 

Influencers and bloggers

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An exciting new area for brands to explore in communicating their messaging is with smaller and at times, slightly more unknown influencers and bloggers. There is an emerging market in using micro influencers over macro influencers. By using these influencers and bloggers, brands can communicate through real people, in an authentic voice.

There are two types of influencers – macro and micro. Macro influencers are not that different to your celebrities, besides the celebrity title. These influencers have large audiences that they can push your message and brand out to, often at a hefty price tag. Unfortunately, the engagement of macro influencers posts are on the lower end, but if you are looking for reach on your post then you’ll be in good hands.

Micro influencers, however, have a smaller following than that of a macro influencer or celebrity, between 1000 and 90 000 followers. Their audience is more engaged in the content that they post which makes these up and coming influencers and bloggers more attractive to brands. These types of content creators are in it for the long haul and want to leverage off your brand as much as you want to leverage off their following.

There is something to be said for bringing in influencers and bloggers for a long-term brand affiliation, rather than just paying them one off. You can together, create bespoke messaging and content, as well as ensuring a complete buy-in from the blogger or influencer which in turn translates into engaging content on their platforms for their followers and your future followers and customers.

There is no right or wrong way forward for your brand, just make sure that the celebrity, blogger or influencer is right for YOUR brand, that they can communicate your vision and objective without sounding forced or fake and your campaign will always win.

Author: Nelisiwe Zuma

Editor: Erin Crous

My Life Design Story

Thank You Mama

I grew up in a small rural village outside of Pietermaritzburg called Impendle. My dad was in a taxi industry and when he got shot three months after my mum gave birth to myself and my twin sister. We were left without a father’s love; my mum was left behind with five (5) Kids and without a husband.

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Mum and Dad

When my dad died, my mum and dad were both in their twenties and twenty-four years later my mum still able to blush when you mention my Father’s name. she is still a widow and never been with another man. When we ask her why she did not date or get married again, this is her response “It has always been your dad, he was my first and my last”.

Powerful hey! and she will say it with a smile on her face.

 

Uneasy Childhood

You now have a clear understanding of how my life must have been, being raised by a single parent who is by herself taking care of five children with no education, no proper job but through it all, she had Hope, Faith, and Love for God. basically, that is all she had with her.

All she could do to fend for her family was to work multiple jobs – by day she was a street cleaner and by night a dressmaker. she managed to raise us with the little that she had and of course with our grandparent’s support.

A Noble Man

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My Dad: Mondli Zuma

It was hard to hear all the stories about how much of a nobleman my dad was, how he was full of life, full of jokes and fun being around. He was full of energy, beautiful smile, kind and loving to all people but most especially to older people. my mum would say ” While everyone is drinking alcohol and smoking weed or cigarette, your dad would be drinking his Coca-Cola and telling his funny stories to everyone” He was that man, that respectful man that every older people would rather be in his taxi than to any other taxi driver. and I guess he was brutally killed out of jealous. basically, he was eliminated from this world for being whom God created to be, being a noble, loving and kind man.

I KNEW WHO GOD WAS BUT…

My mum made us believe that God exists and that he loves us. But I had my if’s and but’s. I had my days with him where I would blame him for taking my father from my mum and his children’s. I would hate the mentioning of his name for making things hard for us.

Most of my life I knew that he is a God who “claims to love, protect and provide for his people”. I knew the verse that says “God loved the world so much that he gave his only son to die for us so that our sins will be cleansed and be free from sin”. But I thought to myself, did he loved us when he took my dad from his three (3) months old twins – from when he took a young man from his young lady wife.

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My Twin sister and I

I would ask him “How come you say you love us yet you took one person who could have changed our standard of living, taken us to better schools, live a better life and have a relationship with both our parents. in tears, I will say “You took it all away from us and for that, I will not believe in you”

I thought to myself, WOW this must be such a fool God we put our trust in. but little did I know that my mom still had so much FAITH in the very same God who stole her husband from her and the very same God who made her dreams disappears.

I refused to completely accept him – I questioned everything he does and I refused to place my ALL to some God I did not figure out and that is where I began to fool myself thinking I can do it all by myself. on the other side, my mom was there to remind me of where we have come from through God’s strength.

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Mummy Dearest

My Everyday Woman

Now I would look back and think to myself how did my mum managed to get us to where we are now. taking us to universities, teaching us not to let go easily in life, to be hopeful , to be respectful, to love and to be humble and all the answers point out to one person, God and his grace to enables mum’s faith to lead us and empowers us to be better children’s regardless of where we are coming from.

This has nothing to do with Woman’s Day or anything related to that but it has something to do with one special person I would hate to die not giving her all that she deserves and all that she did not get from her husband and that’s my Queen Mother.

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Mummy Dearest

My Light and My hope

Mum, you are a perfect example of God loving woman, a woman who stands for what she believes in and a woman who stands by her grounds. if it wasn’t for your faith in God so many things would not have been a success in my life and my sibling’s lives.

You are my Dad, my Friend and my pillar of strength. Thank you for listening to my never ending stories, thank you for not giving up on me when I feel hopeless and thank you for never complaining but always giving us the little that you have.

I am proud to call myself your daughter. A daughter of a widow who lost her love of her life 24 years ago and still hasn’t been with another man. A daughter of the strongest woman I’ve EVER come across. A daughter of a beautiful, selfless and woman of prayer 🙂

I tell you, Mama, God will shine the light on you one day and it is not far – You just need to be a little patient.

Ngiyakuthanda Mama.