PICS: Bubbly 'Babes' flat after visa fiasco

By SIPHELELE BUTHELEZI Time of article published Jun 25, 2017

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Bongekile Simelane or Babes Wodumo to the masses, has always portrayed her bubbly personality in public and on stage.

It is a widely accepted fact that she is not the most fluent public speaker known in the entertainment industry, having had many perceived blunders during interviews or just not show up for scheduled media interviews. 

However, despite this, her strong personality and sense of humor and bubbliness have made her win the hearts and minds of many South Africans, who love her music, her natural good looks and perhaps her brightly coloured hair wigs too. 

When news broke that Babes Wodumo will no longer be attending the BET awards in Los Angeles due to the visa bungle, people took to social media to air their views on the matter and soon Babes was trending as many people turned the matter into mockery.

On Friday during a press briefing in Durban, when it was confirmed there would be no trip to the Los Angeles for her BET Awards nomination, she cut a forlorn figure as West Ink Records management, led by Mampintsha (Mandla Maphumulo) and Khulekani Ntshangase took centre stage, doing much of the talking and explaining the key question - ‘how could this happen under your watch?’

With all the public scrutiny on the 23-year-old performer Lamontville-born star, who was relatively unknown until she dropped her smash hit Wololo last year, she appeared deeply hurt and kept her words to a minimum. 

She did however reject suggestions that she should leave the West Ink Records stable and stated boldy, “ngiyofela la”, which loosely translates to ‘I will die here’. 

Babes said those record labels should have snapped her up when she was still dancing, singing and performing locally, as her boss Mampintsha did, revealing that he encouraged her to sing when she was reluctant to.  

Mampintsha had stated just moments earlier that he would not allow her to leave and defended himself on the suggestion posed by a journalist after calls on social media for her to leave, saying their only mistake was on administrative issues. 

They also repeatedly refuted having romantic relations.


A post shared by Bongekile Simelane (@babes_wodumo) on

Is this what Babes would have worn in LA? Read more here

At the briefing, her face was filled with heartache and disappointment, she displayed a personality of a rather shy Bongekile and not the bubbly Babes Wodumo known to the public.

“I know that people are watching everything I do, I always get shocked whenever I log on social media and find people discussing me even the little things that happens in my life, people talk about me, it does get to me but I have to ignore it,” she said. 

According to the West Ink Records management, they will be announcing a PR firm to handle their public affairs soon, but the whole visa drama - according to them - was due to a communication breakdown between themselves and BET organisers. 

Asked about this, Babes said she was more disappointed than angry, and had been looking forward to her first international trip, for her first global awards nomination.

“I am just lost for words,it does hurt. We tried everything to sort out the visa but it didn't work. When this was happening to me, I remembered words from my grandfather who always said don’t force things when you can see they don’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be, you can’t go against God’s will,” said Babes.

Babes burst into the music Industry as a video vixen before she released her first album last year, which catapulted her into the public’s imagination. 

A well known music manager and consultant, Vusi Leeuw, said it was important for artists to invest in their craft.

"You must spend money in order to make a lot of money and become a successful brand. Babes comes from a small company that managed to make her into a big star which is good, however this doesn't mean they know it all, they need to seek knowledge and work with other professional people. 

“Being independent does not mean you must not ask for help, invest in professional skills. Managing an artist can't be a one man job, there should be a team most importantly, good administration," said Leeuw. 

It emerged that West Ink had four people involved permanently in the company and that they were stretched often performing multiple functions each between handling administrative, public relations, bookings and general day-to-day runnings.

They however said they worked with a broader team they referred to as the “”West Ink Family”, who were people they worked with on a freelance basis.

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