Selbyonce casts UKhozi into the future

Openly gay DJ fires up Zulu station

SELBY “Selbyonce” Mkhize has not only brought life to Ukhozi FM’s 12 to 3 Cafe show, but is also helping redefine the station’s new trademark.

Ukhozi FM continues to grow and is now on the cusp of 8-million listeners. But the station is also known as the battleground between traditionalist and conservative Zulu speakers in hostels and rural areas on one side, and their more cosmopolitan brethren in the cities.

The young and vibrant Selbyonce – the first openly gay DJ on the station – has been thrown into the deep end of this battleground, often getting personal blows and victories in the process.

She credits Khathide Ngobe – a fellow DJ – for introducing her to conservative maskandi followers, who now refer to her as MaMkhize.

And she – Selbyonce warned me never to use he when referring to her – is not apologetic about her sexual orientation and knows how to tell homophobes when to sit down.

“I tell them to get out of our way, because we are here to stay,” she says with a wry smile.

“We can talk until we turn blue in the face, the only way to address them [the homophobe] is to be direct. We can’t beg them to like or accept
us. It’s now up to them.”

She joined Ukhozi FM in 2012 as a gossip snippet contributor and worked her way up. She reckons that the station’s listeners are changing.

“The perception of it being listened to by the old is long gone. It has given birth to a new generation of listeners. It’s a family radio station,
everyone fits in. Times are changing,” she said.

She said these listeners have welcomed her with open arms, with “one or two who will write horrendous things on your DM”.

Growing up in Amaoti, an informal settlement north of Durban, was not easy for this DJ.

“In high school I was always around girls, girls and girls. I didn’t play boys’ games. Here I knew exactly what was going on with my sexuality. I knew I wanted to marry a boy unlike the young me who felt that I was different but didn’t know what was going on.

The funny thing about high school is I never wanted people to call me homosexual. I guess it’s because of how society had painted this whole gay/lesbian life. It was dirty, unholy, evil, disgusting. There was no way I was going to put myself through such torture,” she said.

She has featured in a few cameo roles in local films and TV series but has her sights on bigger things.

“I have this belief in my head that my big TV break will be an international one. I’m speaking it into existence. I know it’s a big dream and I will make it come true.”

By Chris Makhaye

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