People love me because I’m very South African, very Tswana and very hilarious – Bonang Matheba

For those familiar with the phrase the common Setswana/Sesotho phrase “Hae du!, it has come to invoke very specific imagery; imagery of media personality Bonang Matheba hopping on yet another plane and travelling to yet another destination for the heck of it.

Hae du” is a phrase both commonly used by Setswana and Sesotho speakers. It is a shortened version of a phrase from a popular hymn which states “ha e duma e a tsamaya.” When loosely translated means “if the car is ready, we leave,” and in Bonang’s case “if the plane is ready, we’re out of here”.

The star’s travels became so frequent fans just began to assume she was globe-trotting for the heck of it. However, as we will come to find out this coming weekend, all that continent hopping was for work as part of the star’s global expansion plans. 

For years, Bonang has spoken about her dream of introducing the world to her work and in 2019, she went for it, filming every second of her journey to show people exactly what goes into the business of being B*. 

“I just thought I’ve given three years of a reality show, it was mostly laughs and giggles and family and intimate moments and personal moments but what I found that was missing was people’s understanding of the business behind brand Bonang and what it really takes to put everything that people see together,” said Bonang in an interview with the Citizen.  

“I just wanted to show the business side of it and a more grown-up Bonang.”

According to the star, as time goes by, her interests and personality are changing and she feels it is necessary for fans to see this as they grow with her. 

Each episode is just under an hour “so we crammed as much as we can into each episode and we’ve done pretty well, I don’t think we left anything out”.

When asked if her fans might not be disappointed by only getting two episodes after getting used to spending an entire season with her, the star, who has also become known for the phrase “give the people what they want,” says she’s open to suggestions. 

“I think after two [weekends] people will feel happy. And if not, I always listen to my fans. They always direct me in the way that they want me to go. If it’s something they want to see more of, my thing is always to just make my brand a little more accessible to people. It might continue on SABC 1, we might move it to YouTube, who knows?” 

She is very cognizant of the changing nature of how people consume their media now and as an executive producer, she tries to make sure her productions cater to that.  

“I have noticed that people want bites of entertainment and their attention spans have shortened so you need to get to the point as quickly as possible because people have a lot to watch.” 

“We try to keep it short, entertaining, very impactful because we understand how people watch TV shows and how they take in information has really changed as well.” 

Bonang the businesswoman

Although she says A Very Bonang Year is about bringing her life as a businesswoman to the fore, B* has always been about her business. 

From Baby Star handbags to House of BNG, the star has always had her sights set on business. After all these years as an entrepreneur, we asked just what defines Bonang the businesswoman:

“I’m very tenacious and I am a big risk-taker. I’m also very very ambitious. I think that’s the one character trait of mine that I love. I believe in myself, I believe in taking risks, I don’t really mind trying something out and letting it fail. I think that’s the core personality of any entrepreneur,” said Bonang.  

“Ambition moves you from dreaming about something to actually getting it done,” she added.  

And boy did she get it done! Not only did she traverse the world, introducing international audiences to Bonang but, she also set up a home base of sorts in New York. 

Bonang Matheba | Image: Twitter

“For me, that’s the most frightening aspect of the entire thing. Moving to another country, moving into a different culture, meeting new people… but that’s also the exciting part of it.”

“I’m a girl that also challenges herself every day. I try to be bigger and better than yesterday. I try to do things that are going to challenge me mentally and spiritually… that are going to force me to grow.” 

Part of her motivation for doing this is showing her own team that she too is capable of pushing herself to improve on a regular basis. 

Considering what a machine ‘Brand Bonang’ has become, it shouldn’t be surprising to find out that she has branched out and found herself management teams and glam squads in almost every city she goes to. 

“I’m a big planner, luckily I have an American team. I work with Harrison who I’ve flown here to South Africa for a number of things… so I have a team. I have a make-up artist there, I have a management team,” said Bonang. 

“I have a team in London and Dubai as well. So I don’t take my whole team with me, I just take what is needed. I have people all over the world who take care of me,” she added.  

In the trailer for her show, we see Bonang having to set someone straight about what exactly it is that she does. Much to our surprise, she was enthusiastic about introducing a new group of people to brand Bonang. 

“I found it quite refreshing, funny enough. What I did find is that people know very little about South Africa and the African continent in general.” 

“What surprised me is that they were very interested. You know, in America, they might not know you but because you’re doing something different that no one else is doing, the interest is there and that’s the part that really excited me.” 

She believes this is also because she is primarily a TV presenter and has built her fame on the basis of that, which is something that is very rarely seen in the US entertainment industry. 

In her pursuit of introducing more people to her work, Bonang went on a whirlwind international press tour of sorts that saw her landing interviews on acclaimed platforms such as The Breakfast Club

That resulted in her gaining a lot of new African American fans as well as a fanbase of people who are of African descent but now live in the diaspora. 

It also introduced celebrities such as Charlamagne, Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Marlo Hampton and Porsha Williams, Eudoxie (Ludacris’ wife) and YouTube sensation Jackie Aina into her network. 

According to B, this new network has encouraged her to level up. 

“This has had a huge impact on my work and how I present and produce my work. It’s because of being able to work with all these people and be around all these people, it elevates you, it inspires you. I also want to produce work that is world-class and A Very Bonang Year is a great reflection of that.” 

She’s so proud of her product that she is convinced that when people watch her docu-series, they’ll see that the production and storytelling are different to her previous projects. 

“It really is a world-class production and it’s something that I’m so proud of. And I think that’s why I also wanted to take it to SABC 1. I wanted everybody to have access to it, I wanted the people who started celebrating me and supporting me from SABC 1 to have access to it. To see what Bonang is doing, what she’s up to and when you see her on Instagram and social media snd her prancing around the world that there’s actually something that is happening behind the scenes.”

To Bonang, A Very Bonang Year is a true reflection of the inspiration she says she has gained from her international network as well as through connecting with her fanbase via social media. 

Her fanbase is fiercely loyal and believes that she is among some of the world’s funniest people. Echoing her fans sentiments, we asked Bonang if she’d ever consider venturing into comedy, even if it was just once.

“I think my personality is the reason why I think Bonang is Bonang and I will never change. People love me because I’m just so very South Africa, I’m so very Tswana, I’m so very hilarious and I think it’s my personality that I’m going to use to just drive this brand.

“So, no, I won’t be doing any comedy. I’m a woman who knows what she’s good at, I try not to do too many things and the reason why I don’t just do anything is because I want to have a core. I want to be honest with myself and I only want to do things I’m really good at.

“You know, I always say to people ‘I don’t like people who think that TV presenting is easy, no, it is a profession. It’s like people who think being an influencer is easy. It is not. I don’t like disrespecting people’s professions because I don’t like people disrespecting mine so no, I won’t get into comedy…”

What she is looking forward to doing, however, is expanding into the wine industry by growing her House of BNG range, trying her hand at some musical projects and doing more CSI work – such as partnering with MTN and Global Citizen for the launch of an app aimed at providing some sort of solution to the country’s gender-based violence crisis. 

“My thing going forward is just about collaborating and shining the light on younger traders. Moving forward, people are going to see a change in my brand and who I work with as well as how I work. Because the world is changing and who people work with is also changing…”

Catch the much-anticipated premiere of A Very Bonang Year on Friday, 1 August at 6pm on SABC 1 with part two to be broadcast the following Friday, 8 August at 6pm.

There will also be a rebroadcast of A Very Bonang Year on SABC 1 on 3 and 10 August at 2pm.



Kaunda Selisho.

Kaunda is analogue girl navigating a digital world using the perspective provided by news. She has always had a desire to amass a wealth of knowledge on a range of varied topics and this is reflected in the content she produces. As a digitally adept social media user, you can always trust Kaunda to bring you up to speed on what’s going on in the world at any given moment.

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