For two years Naima Kay was in an abusive relationship. Now she’s using her music to fight GBV

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Naima Kay uses music to reach more people in order to help stop Gender-Based Violence.
Naima Kay uses music to reach more people in order to help stop Gender-Based Violence.

She once felt powerless against gender-based violence (GBV).

For two years, Naima Kay was verbally and emotionally abused by a former lover, she shares, and she felt voiceless and powerful.

Now the singer and songwriter is using her platform to raise awareness about GBV. “We have been saying it’s enough for many years but gender-based cases are still on the rise. So, if we speak through music, people have no choice but to listen. Music is our way of protesting GBV for both men and women will both to attend,” she tells Drum as she gears up for her Sekwanele (Enough) Music Tour aimed at raising awareness about GBV.

The tour will be starting on 2 April at the Durban Playhouse Company, and Naima will take it to Johannesburg, East London and other cities.

“In the tour, I have included all the people I ever featured in my songs, such as Ntando Bangani, Kelly Khumalo, Mondli Ngcobo and other may other surprise acts. I also composed a theme song named after the tour that will be used in the campaign against GBV and it will be included in my fourth album out in May.”

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Her activism is inspired by her own experiences after being verbally and emotionally abused by a former lover, she says.

It was the perfect relationship when they first met, Naima recalls.

She was in love. He was Mr Perfect, romantic, and supported her career. But as time went by, things started changing. He would eavesdrop on her phone conversations and go through her private messages. It seemed cute at first, but she started becoming afraid when visiting friends was an issue for him. Her time with family and friends was restricted. 

It is only now she has found the courage to speak about her experience and uses music to help other men and women in abusive relationships.

“When you’re a public figure, it's not easy to speak up and let people know about your problems,” she says.

“You are constantly in the spotlight and being judged. I stayed in the relationship for almost two years. It was difficult to walk away. I couldn’t speak up because of my public figure status. Even now it’s difficult to speak about it because of fear of being judged, but I want to help others while healing myself,” she says.

“I was lucky to walk away before the abuse became physical. My ex was controlling. He would attend shows with me. I couldn’t spend time with friends, fans would not be allowed to greet, hug or take pictures, especially male fans. He controlled my time, and he was verbally abusive. I couldn’t speak to people on the phone. If he found out that I was speaking to a guy on the phone, he would break the phone, or I would need to change the sim card. I was young. My friends could see I was being abused because they were not allowed to spend time with me," says Naima.

"Once a lady walked up to me Eyadini to tell me that she used to date the guy and he was physically abusive. I would get calls from women warning me about him, but I ignored the messages."

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But she managed to escape the relationship before things became physical. “Luckily, I left before he could lay a hand on me. He was also afraid of my dad which is why he fought the urge to hit me.”

When she decided it was enough, she confided in close friends. “They could see the signs and had asked me, but I was too blinded by love in the beginning. My friends were supportive and really protected me.

“I also used music to help me to cope with the abuse at the time. If you listen to my albums, you will hear songs like Khuluma Ngayo which is me crying for help,” she adds.

Happy to have left the verbal and emotional abuse, Naima now wants to help other men and women. “I am now in a happy relationship of four years. We still have so much to achieve before we get married. But there is no rush. I learned that you need time to get to know someone before committing to marriage; know their strength and weaknesses,” she says.

“My focus right now is working on my new album that will most likely be out in May or June and focusing on the Sekwanele tour starting on 2 April,” she says.

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Her upcoming 12-track album is titled Queen of the South and will be released at the end of May.

“I am From the South Coast in KZN, hence the title. I will include the single Sekwanele in the album. My music has always been about expressing myself, writing from the heart and sharing myself with my fans. I write about my experiences and those close to me.”

In her new album, she worked with producers Mondli Ngcobo, Mojalefa “Mjakes” Thebe, Siphiwe Jula and Mondli Ngcobo. 

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