I was taken aback on my first day on the set because Makosi has a very strong personality and what you get is what you see with her and the next day, it grew into admiration. She is very much assertive and I find her to have motherly qualities, which I know is a good thing. We, African women, have to be mothers, daughters, wives and good friends all at the same time.
She has a history of being on Big Brother UK where her represented image was quite different from what you see of her today.
I went to interview her and I got interviewed but that did not surprise me since that is her work! She likes this blog and the things I stand for (positivity; the girl child; and interviewing people obviously). So this is the conversation I had when I tried to interview an interviewer!
Makosi stands for an interesting concept known as Ubuntu – a traditional word used in Southern Africa to mean ‘I am because you are and you are because I am’. She is a strong believer in the African roots and staying grounded in them without the constant comparison to western culture. She begins by talking about the traditional African woman and the white woman.
“There is more to an African woman than booty. The African women represented strength. If you look at vulnerability, the white woman has always been looked at, as fragile but never an African woman! Now, we are slipping into fragile roles. Why should we? We have never been that.
Zimbabwe was liberated because a woman decided to go to war. It wasn’t a man who decided to fight for Zimbabwe’s independence, it was a woman. When I now see how we are forced into the role of a ‘Stepford Wife’, I think it is partially our fault because we see Africans talking about shoe game and dress game only and by doing that, reduce themselves to simply how they look.”
Why I’m happy and I’m always happy is this- I live in the world I’m in. I don’t try and live New York in Nigeria. Anyway, I talk a lot because I talk for a living! (Meanwhile, she has no idea this makes my work so much easier!)
How would you describe yourself?
You know, because I do interviews, I find being interviewed very difficult. I think I’m very deep and I think I’m very happy, very difficult to offend but once offended, I don’t let go of a fight, I’m almost like an Indian cheetah or tiger. I will not let go of my prey until it is dead but I don’t naturally go for fights!
Do you feel like you must have that kind of attitude in the industry, in order to get through it?
You have to be fierce because when you are in the public eye, people are gonna feel like they know you and when they feel like they know you, they think they can judge you. And when they judge, sometimes I let it go. It’s not every fight that I’m invited to, that I jump into but in some cases you have to stand up for yourself and say enough is enough but then you have to have the thickest skin because if you don’t, there are people that are always willing to push you out so to stay in it, you have to have tenacity, you have to have courage, you have to be fearless, and you have to have a strong instinct and perception.
What message do you feel is important for you to send out to your audience?
Makosi today is about changing the perception of Africa one story at a time. Our story has been told for a very long time and when someone else tells the story, there is an animal called propaganda that kicks in and they tell it to suit themselves so I asked myself how we can tell the African story by ourselves without rubbishing what has been told. That’s why I’m always against it when people are happy to gossip and back talk other Africans because where I come from, Ubuntu really means ‘I am because you are’. In Africa, we need to change our language. Where there is no unity, there is no peace. We need to stop fighting each other.
Is there a reason why you feel so strongly about the concept of Ubuntu?
I feel so strongly about Ubuntu because I lived in England for 14 years and I learnt that, if the other race isn’t going to accept us, we have to find a way of accepting ourselves. When we attack ourselves, it is like a cancer.
What’s your personal life like, outside all of this?
This right here, is my personal life. I eat at work, I run 10km every morning just around here at the gym and then I go home, shower and come back on set. I don’t have two personalities. What you see is what you get. I separate nothing from the show. The show is really about showcasing Africa and I’m just using myself as an instrument.
What are some of the challenges you face?
You work with a lot of different people from different walks of life. Humanity has managed to complicate itself by saying, ‘you are black and you are white; you are poor and you are rich’. Because we complicated that, we come with an attitude about wanting someone to see but I look at people as I look at myself so when people come with attitude, I always wonder what it is about.
I am because you are and you are because I am.
After the interview, I spent more time on set with Makosi. During this time, she encouraged me about the things I’m passionate about and gave me good advice. I noticed how her relationship with everyone on her set is very friendly and relaxed. She is unapologetically herself and that speaks to me. We had deeper conversations about celebrity culture and the future of African politics and relations between the countries. Yes, it was something!
Makosi Today airs on VOX Africa for DSTV subscribers. Tune in!