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Nonhle Thema

Nonhle and the Veil of Branding

by Brandon Edmonds / 24.02.2011

An entity you may remember from the Crusades keeps appearing in the ever-lengthening media trail of Nonhle Thema (whose lackluster new reality show Nonhle Goes to Hollywood debuted recently on Vuzu): let’s call the entity ‘God’. The ambitious 28-year old ex-Channel O vee-jay and international face of Dark & Lovely body butter (“it’s all about moisture ladies!”) is the daughter of our first ebony Miss Universe contestant, and the chance possessor of the kind of wholesomely fuckable, airbrush-smooth, post-racial perkiness even gender dinosaurs like FHM can get behind. But Nonhle just can’t shut up about Him. To the point where you wonder why she even bothered hiring Brand Ambassadors, a top-tier PR shit-slinging outfit, to handle the media for her. Wouldn’t He be a better point-man? He’s already proven to be the kind of hands-on, results-driven super(natural) agent more faithless stars can only dream of. Here’s Nonhle on the Big Guy’s outstanding impact on her career.

“When I lost a major pageant (she walked in her mother’s beauty queen heels for a spell), I started my new relationship with God. I totally surrendered to Him at the age of 21 and said ‘Lord you are my Master and Creator. Only you know what my Destiny and Purpose on earth are. I allow You to take over me and show me the way in order for me to find peace and fulfillment.’ And after that, boy did He answer me! He started bringing me all sorts of work and my relationship with Him keeps getting deeper and deeper. He has proven that He has chosen me as His child. Jobs like Global Ambassador for the number one hair care brand in the world is Him. He understands me and I understand what He wants me to do.”

Nonhle Thema

What’s fascinating here is the complete absence of any trace of what remains Jesus’ most lingeringly resonant gesture (next to the whole dying for us all thing, of course) in this undemocratic era of privatized profit and public risk. Matthew 21:12 – “And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple and turned the tables of the money changers… He said to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of robbers.” He even fashioned a whip. At no other point on record does He get this het up on earth. “Do not make my father’s house into a house of merchandise.”

But Nonhle happily equates faith with material gain. It’s as if the Cleansing of the Temple never happened. God acts as a kind of brand facilitator. A brand maximiser. Pulling metaphysical strings behind the scenes, landing her big contracts, and getting Nonhle’s name out there. This is late capitalist faith 2.0. Self-serving and deaf to history. A shadow of what it was. No longer moving mountains but leveraging brand exposure. Or as Nietzsche’s straight-talking Jesus-upgrade, Zarathustra, says: “You still want to be paid, you virtuous! Want to have reward for virtue and heaven for earth, and eternity for your today.” Zing!

Now consider 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” The price of Jesus’ supposed crucifixion. But look what we’ve done: if the body is a temple and Jesus banished avarice from the temple, isn’t it distinctly ungodly to become a brand?

Being both a believer and a brand is, in strict Biblical terms, an impasse, a contradiction, a big fucking no no. But the veil of branding appears bullet-proof. Parading herself for FHM “is a real honour. Especially since it’s a predominantly white magazine. It makes me proud to think I have crossed over and I’m appealing to whites and blacks. I want everyone to like me and relate to me. It’s a blessing (being voted 17th Sexiest Woman in the World out of 100) because I’m God’s child.” Faith acts as a kind of deflecting mist of self-affirmation, neutralizing self-doubt, and making whatever advances the exposure of Brand Nonhle permissable.

Her venality, given full reign, is palpable: “I want to have a million in my account by the end of the year – I’m close to that dream. I hope to have my own Cosmetics and Hair range, write a book and have lots of success. I’m working on building an empire. Nonhle Thema is going to be a name that will be around for a very long time. Think Oprah, Tyra Banks, Madonna. All those successful, smart business ladies.”

Thema’s conveniently career-boosting God – a malleable father-figure in her corner no matter what – Thema’s parents divorced when she was young – is really the laughable final embers of a process sociologist Max Weber has described in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: “the intensity of the search for the Kingdom of God commenced gradually to pass over into sober economic virtue; the religious roots died out slowly, giving way to utilitarian worldliness.” This is the pragmatic air Thema lives and breathes. Part of a fluent and traveled new generation laden with opportunities their parents never had.

To her credit, though, Nonhle is not unaware of the spiritual hazards of self-promotion. She compensates for the Godless instinct of acquisition via the rhetoric of a Calling. “It’s my destiny. I’m not taking it for granted. God gave me this for a reason.” Faith is here a way to fast-track achievement, supplying all the internal assurances necessary to make it out there. As Thema puts it with breathtaking brio: “The more I climb the career ladder…the closer I get to God.” He wants me to be rich so I can help others. It’s His plan for me. “I’m not just in it for the money,” she says, “but for a deeper meaning.” She has an outreach program called Nonhle’s Angels, mentoring young women on careerism and personal hygiene. “When I do talks to young girls all over, I start by using my life as a vehicle of inspiration and encouragement that anything is possible. If me as a girl from Soweto can do it, why can’t you?”

Where better for Nonhle, than Hollywood?

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RESPONSES (28)
  1. Japetto says:

    Hedonistic hypocrite

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  2. Vusumuzi says:

    I almost got diabetes reading this. According to the “thank god” squad, god is a constant winner. If ever they do not get what they worked hard for, they either blame the devil or say that it was gods will.

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  3. fallen angel says:

    Heya Nonhle could you personally ‘advise’ me on best hygiene practice after sucking dick on the casting couch…you know what i’m saying bee yaaatch!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. dwight says:

    All people who openly flaunt their faith fall into hypocrisy.

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  5. fobias tunke says:

    Mahala can be said to be a good read insofar as Brandon Edmonds writes for them. This is writing of, in ’80s parlance, a fucking-A calibre. I’m a blushing sycophant next to this sort of interrogative prose.

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  6. mick says:

    Yeah when Edmonds hits a six its more like a homerun that orbits the globe with dazzling precision.

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  7. Lizzy says:

    this chick really is a poster girl for ‘generation Y’ (or is it Z yet?), those retarded consumer sheep that seem to be everywhere these days, and whom i just dont relate to at all. excellent writing.

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  8. Molemo K says:

    i think you guys are just hating on home girl for her successes and her unwaivering belief in that GOD is a provider in her life. She is an icon and she is not ashamed to associate her achievements with GOD. Pity your little smear campaign will not halt her hussle. Keep hating…

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  9. ling-ling says:

    I wonder who rich, successful, Atheists have to thank, we who do not believe still achieve. Perhaps we just rely on our brains.

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  10. Boetie says:

    Ek sal haar Vat!

    Think julle is al missing da point here , Brandon Edmonds is so mooi terribly tired of da skinny spotty biatches/hipsters dat frequent dees pages ….dis lady gave our Brandon a chance to be bof bitingly judgemental in da usual spirit of Mahala critique an still give da readers an hesself a little goodness for da day. An evan tomoro again….
    Skommel hom – Jislaaik!

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  11. Tha Hustler says:

    I really don’t believe you guys went on to write such. Pure hate and who said God doesn’t want you to prosper? if a girl wants to live her dreams let her be, who are we to judge what is acceptable and not acceptable in God’s eyes? I cannot believe that you guys quoted the Bible to slander someone and pass judgement, a hypocritical don’t you think?

    Totally overboard and unnecessary in my view, so what if someone has beliefs in what God is to her life? Job was a rich man, questioned God though he never lost his faith asked God if what was happening to him was cause of something he did wrong but he stood up for what he believed in and gained more than he lost and received more blessings as a rich man and a man of God.

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  12. Neosapien says:

    I see a consortium of pharisees here! The fact that you took the time to craft an article exposing supposed ‘hypocricy’ is very judgemental, you are very self-righteous and narrow-minded. You have quoted scripture out of context there in Matthew 21:12; why did you not consider what was happening before Jesus came into the temple? Again very 1 dimensional in your view here. With that being said, I must admit, parading around naked is not Christian-like, ergo your quote by Paul is on point.

    The only good point you make in this entire mediocre article is that christians need to be consistent in their behaviour as proclaimed Jesus followers which I agree fully with, but slandering another is not the way to do it.

    Oh and what’s with the perphrastic writing? I ran out of breath trying to read your sentences, please consider punctuation.

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  13. Phumlani says:

    Good form Edmonds! Soon you’ll be writing with a golden pen, that andile will be paying for.

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  14. blab says:

    jeez. chill out dude. you are attacking her beliefs and her success. how do you know they are not connected? so what if she believes that. what’s it to you? maybe you have a problem because she has more money than you. you should write an article about how incredible it is to live in a country where a black woman can grow up to flaunt her sexuality, believe in god and make loads of cash all at the same time. because that’s the world you live in and its pretty sweet. it’s called liberation, get used to it.

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  15. brandon edmonds says:

    jeez dude if that’s your idea of liberation you’re an idiot.

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  16. blab says:

    fine. what if she was a porn star or a stripper or a whore who believed in god and wanted to tell everyone about it. would you judge her more or less harshly? i am an idiot and she can do and say and believe whatever she wants. and you will still be a grumpy, old, financially challenged, conservative white guy writing on a blog.

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  17. brandon edmonds says:

    Conservative. How dare you!

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  18. Anointed says:

    Its thanks to peolpe such as Edmonds that Nonhle’s career continues to flourish! The fascination with and constant talk about her keeps her relevant. Free PR period, now she’s on Tv and in ink! Plus Edmonds has a job to do thanks to people like her. Gota love it.

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  19. blab says:

    I wouldn’t want to offend your 18th century sensibilities. 😉

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  20. Miss blue says:

    WoW people actually take time to write such bull… Why cant one link their success to God? And as for misquoting the Bible? Do your research…!!!

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  21. brandon edmonds says:

    Jesus has anyone got anything interesting to say about branded faith?

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  22. Gomolemo says:

    yep, keep hatin…

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  23. black seuccessful woman of GOD says:

    THIS is trully sad! besides your out of context quotes from the bible, it trully shows the kind of person you are. for a country that has been so down and deprived a nation of success especially young black woman, you should be able to see how far we have come with young ladies like Nonhle. HOW MANY YOUNG BLACK ladies do you know of at her age that has recieved such success at such a tender age?

    She is a woman of God, and our God is great. just because one is christian does not mean you have to be poor! God does not want his children to suffer, if you surender all to HIM He will take you to greater hieghts.

    this article just reaks of your jelousy, hatred, bitterness and anger because you will never achieve the success she has achieved in her young years! its sad that you live such a dark life that your bitter tendency is trying to spoil her success because you aren’t closr to earning what she is! and if you are white, well…doesnt surprise me.

    The devil is a liar, I Pray that the Lord have mercy on you. And i do hope he may judge you fairly, unlike they way you are judging a young girl!

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  24. black seuccessful woman of GOD says:

    she is trully inspiring many young black kids out there that they can do all things, you dont have to grow up in the suburbs to achieve success! do you sir, not want such for the many kids out there who have no hopes because they feel like they have nothing to get them where they want to be? is that what you are saying at the fact that she is trying to inspire many other girls who are in soweto!?

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  25. Lizzy says:

    what she is doing is not of God. It’s just a veil she’s using. God wants His children to be humble.

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  26. BMG says:

    Nonhle is doin’ it big 4 herself!, i say Big Up girl go get ’em!…

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  27. […] *images sourced from here and here and here and here […]

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  28. Portia says:

    U go girl

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