Bonang Matheba was in the middle of a shoot when she got a phone call from her mother. “Did you see what’s happening on Twitter?” It was the day #iamBonang started taking over social media. It’s the kind of hashtag that could only materialise from the collective admiration for a woman who’s conquered the broadcasting world as a presenter and star of her own reality show, has a book, an app with personalised emojis, a campaign with Revlon, and the ability to turn anything she touches to a Champagne-hue gold.
“I was literally so overwhelmed with emotion,” she says of the moment she started scrolling through the hashtag feed. “I remember crying for what felt like about 10 minutes and it was tears of joy.”
Of course, #iamBonang had to be one of the chosen slogans for her Bonang by Bonang Matheba collection. Any fan of the show could easily recite a lengthy list of “Bonangisms” – so how to choose just three for the collection? It had to be the ones that felt most personal and that stand for the relationship she has with her B Force. It was when Being Bonang evolved from a reality show to an influential force in pop culture that Queen B realised it was time to create this collection. She sees it as a way to commemorate this moment in her life and, of course, to “give the people what they want – that’s my favourite one”.
The idea of a T-shirt range, regardless of the slogan, matches perfectly to the tune of Bonang’s everyday style. If you look past the designer handbags and the statement gowns she so effortlessly slays in, Queen B’s style is, in fact, refreshingly simple.
“I’m a jeans kinda girl,” she says. “I always start with a beautiful pair of jeans and then build the look from there. I like to style my jeans according to how I feel.”
She’s designed these tees to be equally versatile. She’s thinking a skirt and figure belt for lunch, or jeans and heels for dinner. “A blazer on top – it’s cold now. A trench. Berets are the thing right now so I can’t wait,” she says, pausing. “I know how I would do it. The most exciting thing is how the B Force is going to style it. I can’t wait for the Instagram pictures – that’s gonna be fun.” Make sure you @ her.
Bonang is only 31 and, as she’s mentioned on her show, has worked all her dreams into reality. She’s thriving, so where to from here? What’s the next goal? “To pay it forward. The more blessed you are the more you have to bless other people, you know?”
She’s been doing just that since 2016 with her bursary fund. She’s paid her fame forward to her cousin Pinky, giving her instant influencer status with her starring role on the reality show.
Though it may not have been initially intended, Being Bonang is one of the key ways she’s giving back to her fans. If fans want to be closer to Queen B, the way the reality show makes you feel like you’re part of the group really is a treat. The positive effect it’s having on fans is what Bonang is most proud of. “People tell me how happy it makes them feel, how funny it is, how light-hearted it is, so my intention was always to make people feel good.”
Bonang has got plenty of pride to go around. “People appreciating my mother tongue,” she says, smiling. “I love that I’m influencing a little bit of pop culture and how people speak. Girls all over the country – black, white, Indian – are calling each other Mo’ghel, which I think is so South African. I love Being Bonang ’cause it follows the lives of young South African women who are just trying to have fun, work hard, make money and create their own legacy.”
With this debut ready-to-wear collection, Bonang’s legacy can now hang in B Force closets across the country, styled for countless #spreegallery moments and used as a visible symbol of solidarity. It’s yet another defining moment in Bonang’s career – one that drove her to tears when she arrived on her Spree set and saw the tees in person for the first time. She immediately got on the phone to her mother. “That I make my mom proud”, is what gives her the most joy. As much as she loves taking a moment to appreciate her success, or to think about paying it forward, Bonang’s mind continues to work at light speed, planning her next move. In the diary segment that corresponds with the Spree shoot on Being Bonang, she articulates her intentions of growing Bonang by Bonang Matheba to a place where it will “take over the world”. What’s the next step in that direction? “Hopefully, it will expand to tracksuits and hoodies and swimwear,” she says. “I mean the list goes on and on. We’re building an empire, darling.”