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I'm a kept woman no more, says Khanyi Mbau

14 February 2016 - 02:04 By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER

South Africa's queen of cosmetic surgery and skin lightening has no time for haters. "If you need to be African, stop wearing diamonds and leather shoes, stop relaxing your hair and putting on weaves and let's just be African as Shaka Zulu left us."Khanyi Mbau has lambasted the critics who have labelled her "un-African" for altering her appearance.She has put her days of being a "kept woman" behind her and is now focused on living in the lap of luxury all on her own steam."Who needs a man?" Mbau said this week ahead of making her film debut in the local romance Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, which opens on Friday.The movie, produced by Junaid Ahmed, Bongiwe Selane and Helena Spring and directed by Thabang Moleya, is based on the award-winning novel by Nozizwe Cynthia Jele.It explores the lives of three best friends - Nandi (played by Mmabatho Montsho), Zaza (Mbau) and Princess (Renate Stuurman) - living the good life in Johannesburg.Ahmed said of the movie: "Nandi , who has just been made a partner at her law firm, is engaged to emerging entrepreneur Thomas. "Zaza is a trophy wife to the wealthy and successful property developer Bheki."Princess is the celebrated owner of one of the trendiest art galleries in town, and is living with her sexy and talented boyfriend, Leo. But things aren't what they seem!"For Mbau, her character - the flamboyant "kept" wife - is almost a painful reminder of her own self 10 years ago."I could identify, but it wasn't easy, especially with my life. The whole country knows the things I have gone through."She's no stranger to media attention, particularly with her bitter divorce from former millionaire Mandla Mthembu - who appears to have lost his money in bad business and by overspending - and her affair with married businessman Theunis Crous."If people compare Zaza to me ... she reminds me of the old me. During my Muvhango days, when I came into the industry, that is exactly the person I was."Now I have so many bills to pay. The older you get, you have so many commitments, you've got to be responsible. I've got a child now. I'm in my 30s, I'm no longer married, and I'm quite focused."Back then I had a man who looked after me, my life was a party. A lot has changed," Mbau reflected.She's also three shades lighter and makes no apologies for that. "I've had a lot of hate from people saying 'You're not truly African', 'You've lost your roots', 'You're not in touch with who you are'. For me, that's nonsense."One Instagram user commented on Mbau's picture post: "Why didn't you make yourself darker? Self love right? And what does this tell all girls who 'feel ugly' it tells them to conform and give in to someone else's standards. And that's evil."Mbau tries to take the criticism in her stride."When you're a visionary you need to understand that you are going to take a lot of abuse. You become the sacrificial lamb so that people can evolve and move forward."So many people are now doing the Brazilian hair, getting the boobs done, people talk about it like it's nothing. When I did it back then, people said I had self-esteem problems."Getting a very expensive car from my man shocked people - they went 'Oh my lord'."Now people are posting on social media 'Look what my boyfriend got me' and people are going 'Oh, lucky you'."I understand that I may not be a political visionary and go into the history books. But I have contributed to how women value themselves and look at themselves."Mbau is nervous and excited about the movie, which she believes will resonate with many women."Zaza goes through such a journey that a lot of women married to rich men would identify with. She's actually giving little tips on how to get out of an unhappy marriage. A lot of married women worry about what people are going to say and how they are going to maintain that lifestyle."When you're taken care of, you may be forced to accept certain things you may not like."Mbau is determined to make it on her own."I'm doing so many things to try and maintain the lifestyle I am accustomed to," she says."I always say a woman's power is the level of her independence. The moment you can make R500 on your own, it gives you power."govendersu@sundaytimes.co.za..

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