AIDS Joins Club 27

Slain United States of America rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur sang in Good Die Young from the Outlawz' Still I Rise LP, "we all ignorant to AIDS 'til it happens to you". For sure, some of us who were born with hip-hop in our blood were ignorant until it happened to Niggaz With Attitude founder Eric 'Eazy-E' Wright.
We remained ignorant until it happened to soccer star Sizwe Motaung, then talented Snothi Mthalane, then Yfm's happening deejay Fana 'Khabzela Khaba, then Makgatho Mandela, then Orlando Pirates Brand Manager Zodwa Khoza, before that Inkatha Freedom Party's Themba Khoza and Mangosuthu Buthelezi's two children.

However we were over ignorance the moment it happened to that first cousin we grew up playing diketo, chinchiledi, morabaraba, motsoba and mnguni with. We ceased ignorance when the teachers, neighbours, police, sisters and brothers started perishing like a battalion of ants under the boot of a mineworker.

Makaveli (Tupac's alter-ego) ad-libed, 'we aint' run out of suits, we have run out of tears'. And thus, as heartless as it sounds I have also run out of tears for so-called celebrities who fuck their lives up and expect us not only to give them tears but bury them as well as if in their moment of wealth they've never heard of something called Medical Aid and its cousin called Funeral Cover.

999 Recording artist Zombo (name unknown), the latest plastic celebrity to become a basket case deserves neither my tears, my sympathy or cents. Zombo is a classical example of how we 'learn' from history, how we 'learn' nothing from history. Zombo was never short of role-models.
The first HIV strand was discovered in 1981 and so we can safely say that HIV/AIDS is officially 27-years-old this year - Happy Birthday. The most public HIV infected person was 'Magic' Johnson at the time when the stigma was as huge as an asteroid.

In South Africa, under Zombo's watch came activist Nkosi Johnson, columnist Lucky Mazibuko, socialite Chriselda Kananda, survivor David Patient, activist Khensani Mavasa, activist Zackie Achmat, Judge Edwin Cameron and thousands others whose names will continue to dodge my feeble memory. But did Zombo the model celebrity listen? Hell no!

Let me contexualise my beef with, especially Zombo who is best remembered for blonde hair than any single track he ever did. Zombo was signed to Arthur Mafokate's 999 Records. He sang with some of the groups on the stable, notably Abashante and made some tidy income. He never started a charity organisation to benefit those less fortunate than him. He lived a celebrity life which included flashy cars, cushy cribs, nice clothes, liquor by the gallons, a few illicit drugs, free condoms, groupies, public recognition and most of all a chance to invest in unit trust or that lame 32-day notice investment account.

Zombo had every opportunity in the world to be at least half of what he wanted to be when he was 12-years-old. Zombo lived, sang, lived, drank, lived, admittedly did drugs, sang, sang and sang and disappeared from our radar and we didn't care because some other singers occupied the plate he used to occupy.

Then in January Zombo appears on television frail and skinny. Some of us have been picking the vibes for at least a year now that there was something wrong with his health and prayed for him when we had the time. So, when Zombo finally showed up on SABC1's Live we wanted good news. We wanted to be told that what we've been hearing in the shadows was all lies. But Zombo, typical of angels that have lost their glory started pointing fingers at Arthur for not taking care of him when he was ill and his CD4 count dropping to 10. He started yepping about how he used to sleep without having eaten anything because he didn't have money to buy basic food. I saw that on television and said to myself; '500 million people live below the poverty line and on less than a dollar a day, so Bra Zombo don't worry, welcome to the club comrade'. I felt like telling him that he was now an indigent which meant that he qualified for free basic electricity, six kilolitres of water and a social grant not an Arthur Grant.

Then the people on television, Andile and the bunch who were there to pity him announce that a Trust Fund has been set up for Zombo. My question was why? We have so many poor people in South Africa today, why can't a Trust Fund be set up for them? We have so many people living with HIV today why can't anybody who claims to care set up a trust fund for them? Why are we being hypocrites all of a sudden?

Who'll set up a trust fund for the victims of Zombo's testestorone-driven-recklessness? The former college girls who'll burden their own families with bills at the time when they needed the money they spent on their studies. The varsity grads who'll never be able to pay NAFSAS because they'll be dead before they land their first job? I might sound callous but half my friends are celebrities and I know how these muthafuckas act when they see college and high school students at Campus Square and it sucks. I can be this cold because those young girls from poor backgrounds stand no chance against these morons who'll use anything from ridicule to material to see those panties drop.

It's time we focused on the victims of these plastic celebrities' moment of heated balls. After Khabzela disclosed that he was dying of AIDS there were loads of broads who called radio stations to testify about how he always insisted on rubberless sex like a man who knew for some time that he was infected. But did anybody invite them to the studio for their side of the story? Hell no! Did anybody arrange for them to be tested so that a trust fund can be set up for them for the time when they can't walk or when they die? Hell no!
Someone can argue that they were greedy stupid skanks who'll do it with the next celebrity for nothing. True. But are the now-broke-horny celebrities any smarter when they do it with anything on legs without a condom? The jury's out. There are two taxi owners from my neighbourhood who deliberately jointly infected more than 400 young women before they died three and four years ago. Their victims continue to drop to this day. Should we then pity the two muthafuckas at the expense of the young women whose poverty they exploited?

For the life of me I can't screw the eight chicks I grew up with without a rubber and it beats me why anyone with a single cell in their brain will plunge strangers without some level of protection. Also, even if I tried I can't get 200 chicks to sleep with this year but for someone who has the ability to get 600 chooses not to use a condom beats me. It's just plain stupid.

Zombo must understand that we used to buy his CDs, pay to go to his shows and pay for every service he rendered, there's no reason we should also pay for his welfare and funeral. It just doesn't fucking make sense.

Journalist Marianne Thamm once wrote, to paraphrase her, 'it's not promiscuity that causes AIDS, it's sex without a condom'. I hope you stupid boys with kwaito CDs are listening, otherwise the only CD you will tell us about will be the CD4, which like your CD won't be selling platinum but at an all time low of 10 units.

This is what others said about the issue
An interview with Zombo

Tebogy 'Zombo' Ndlovu died a few days after this post was made, on February 10, 2008. May his Soul rest in Peace


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