Q&A with Zesande: Meet the world's first Virtual Influencer to live life in 24 hours

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(Image: Supplied)
(Image: Supplied)

The world has seen an uptick in virtual influencers for quite some time and it’s safe to say that the trend will continue to grow as more brands and consumers are experimenting with virtual realities such as the Metaverse.

Recently Sanlam created a meta-human, named Zesande, as the star of its financial education initiative, LI:FE of Confidence. The campaign highlights the crucial planning moments in life that are often missed by most of us. Using Zesande, who is a first of her kind, as she experiences an entire lifespan in the space of 24-hours, Sanlam aims to get real people to think about their time and money differently. We recently caught up with Zesande to find out more about the new campaign, life in the metaverse, and her experience in the real world.

  • Zesande, it’s great to speak with you. I’ve never met a meta-human before. Where are you from and do you live in the metaverse?

I am a South African woman and yes, I live in the metaverse, but being a virtual being allows me to cross over into your world at any time. You may see me on TV, social media, or in interviews and films. Travelling between the metaverse and the real world is easy when you’re digital :).

  • I’ve looked at your style over the different stages of your 24-hour life and you’re always on point. What’s fashion like in the metaverse?

Awh, thank you! I’m glad you think so! I enjoy expressing myself through my wardrobe and my hair. I’d say fashion in the metaverse is similar to fashion in the real world – you know, always going steady with trends and just like here in the real world, what you wear becomes part of your identity and how you choose to express that. In the metaverse, your fashion options are limitless. You really get to be anyone you want to be, and fashion is a part of that.

  • Speaking of fashion, it seems you’ve recently made some fashionable friends in the real word. You were spotted hanging out in Cape Town with local influencer Gugulethu Nyatsumba. What was that like?

It was great! When you live your life in 24 hours, you really do learn the value of time and how important it is to do things that add value to your life and surround yourself with people who do too. Gugulethu and I had a great time, and we really made the most of it, without breaking the bank! Who said you need to spend a lot of cash to have a good time?! We had a coffee date, browsed at the market and went museum hopping. The metaverse is a wonderful place, but Cape Town is a tough contender, I tell you.

  • So, why were you created?

Science tells us that human beings are incapable of relating to future versions of themselves. In fact, the synaptic activity in the human brain when asked to imagine a future version of oneself is the same as when asked to imagine a stranger. This fact of human physiology is an added barrier to financial planning and saving and that’s where I come in.

Sanlam created me to experience life and time like never before so that real-life people can think about time, and the life choices they make, differently. You see, because of their inability to imagine the future, human beings have a natural tendency to make choices based on short-term gain rather than long-term success. So, I’m here to help you connect with the future version of yourself so that you can start planning for what lies ahead.

  • Metahumans aren’t a brand-new concept but you’re the first of your kind because you live an entire life in just 24-hours – as you said you experience time like never before. Tell us a bit about how that works?

That’s right. My age is fluid, so I move through life and time quite differently from humans. This morning at breakfast I was 20 and by this evening I will be 65 and, with some good financial planning, I’ll be able to put my feet up as I enter my retirement years. Then I get to do it all over again. Can you imagine?

Living all that life in 24 hours sounds exhausting, right? Haha, but the way I move through time asks the question “how does time influence the choices you make?”. I do this to demonstrate what lies ahead for everyday real-life people so they can make better choices with the time they have.

  • So, how old are you right now? And what is this life stage like for you?

As we speak right now, I’m 35 years old and it’s a bit of an in-between age when life’s good, career’s good, family’s good, no serious health worries… yet. What I’ve learned at this age is that you shouldn’t spend yourself poor trying to look rich. At this age it can be tempting to try and keep up with the Khumalos. Luckily, I’ve learned that trends fade but debt stays so I’ve made better choices with the time I have at this stage in my life.

  • So, are you a financial adviser?

No, not at all, so I can’t give personal finance tips, but I can share my experiences. As I said, I’d describe myself as a storyteller.  But the truth is, I learn as I go just like real life people do. So, I’ll leave the advice to the experts but what I can say is that you should partner with a financial adviser. You’ll save yourself a bunch of headaches and you’ll reach your financial goals sooner.

  • If you could share one financial learning with South Africans, what would it be?

Would you go to anyone to style your hair? The same should be said about your money. Knowing what to do can be difficult and that’s why my top learning would be to partner with an expert when it comes to your personal finance. I wish I had done it sooner.

  • Having this incredible ability to age an entire life span in a day, what do you hope to achieve?

I hope to spark some frank and open conversations among South Africans about the importance of good financial behaviour at any life stage or age. I hope my existence will illustrate the value of time and planning and will give South Africans the chance to experience time like never before so they can begin to think about their financial lives differently and plan for the moments that matter so they may live with confidence.

  • Where can real life South Africans find you?

A key-part of the LI:FE of Confidence initiative is the web experience that allows people to check out the lessons I’ve learned through my various life stages. Regardless of age of life stage, I’m able to meet people where they’re at and share my story with them. You can check out the web experience by visiting

Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande
Sanlam's Meta-Human, Zesande

Blitz Q&A

  • What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Witty, curious, storyteller.

  • If you could edit your past, what would you change?

I’d learn the value of compound interest and start saving sooner.

  • What keeps you up at night?

Like many South Africans, money worries.

  • How many languages do you speak?

Two. English and Xhosa.

  • This or That: Your 20s or 30s?

30s. Older and wiser.

  • This or That: The metaverse or the real world?

Both and luckily, I don’t have to choose.

  • Can you see into the future?

Wouldn’t that be a great party trick! But, no, I can’t see the future.

  • What’s your superpower, other than living a whole life in 24 hours?

Knowledge-sharing and hindsight.

For more information visit

This post and content is sponsored, written and produced by Sanlam.

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