Constantly on magazine pages, gossip tabloids and blogs for their racy and outrageous lifestyle. They travel and flaunt their lavish life, with no particular job or source of money.
In East Africa, there is a blurred line between a celebrity and a socialite. Both celebrities and socialites have the same life styles and use the power of social media and tabloid journalism to court media attention. With a string of steamy photo shoots, vibrant social-media accounts propelled by notoriety, strategic videos appearance, they live large.
Sensational views, political and sexual scandals, outrageous lifestyle, a famous boyfriend or an old rich men to take you to shopping sprees in Dubai and Milan have seen them called gold diggers or opportunists as most are born from struggling families.
Socialites might be “be famous for been famous” or “famous for nothing,” but being a socialite is work. Living and maintaining a high lifestyle requires a mind of an intellect. The socialite must be business savvy with great marketing skills and also be clever and smart enough to keep their popularity and remain topics of interest and conversations.
By utilizing their flawless curvaceous body shapes, their connections and associations, and power of social media and tabloid journalism, socialites stay in the headlines and make their wealth. Currently, East African entertainment scene is flooded by socialites who would do anything to stay in the limelight for money and fame.
Here is how they make their wealth and stay relevant.
1. Reality TV
In 2012, disbanded Kenyan P ’Unit featured a voluptuous woman in their ‘You Guy” song. The video vixen went by the name Vera Sidika. Within days, social media and tabloids turned her into an instant celebrity. Over the years, her titles have changed to entrepreneur, television and social media personality, fashion model, and socialite. She opened doors for other ambitious women with attractive curvy shapes. These women with their shocking and racy way of life inspired Nancy Wakio to create a reality show.
The controversial and wildly popular Nairobi Diaries reality series that stars top socialites from Kenya is always a subject of discussion on social media. The show follows the life of popular Kenyan socialites private lives, their likes, dislikes struggles and hustles. For ratings, every episode rides on relationship drama and controversy. Started in 2015, the show is currently in its fifth season. Vera Sidika left in 2016 for greener pastures.
Last year, East Africa power couple Zari and Diamond were rumored to be starting their own reality TV.
2. Endorsements and Social Ads
When you are an East African socialite like Zari Hassan, Vera Sidika or Huddah Monroe, you can use your fame to help promote a product or service. If you have a huge loyal following in social sites like Zari Hassan’s 2.1 million, that’s an added advantage. You are termed as an influencer. Zari is the richest socialite in East Africa with countless of endorsement deals. She has made millions advertising and endorsing brands like Thee High Tea, Danube Home, GSM Mall, Vodacom and BabyShop which her children with Diamond are brand ambassadors.
Vera Sidika who bleached her skin and caused an uproar signed a lucrative deal with Flat Tummy Tea as East Africa Ambassador last year while Huddah is brand ambassador for Slim Tea, Chezacash.com, Luc Belaire Rare Rose, BrightenMi Facial Cleaner and is currently advertising Cameroon International Film Festival at her social accounts.
3. Cosmetic lines, clothing lines and other own products
Socialites are now turning into real business by launching their own products, fashion and cosmetic lines.
Even though she launched her career by releasing to the internet her nude photos, Huddah Monroe, the self-proclaimed “Mistress of All Trades” contributes her success to ‘hard work and determination’. Last year, her lipstick line sold out in a matter of days after launching. In a few coming weeks, she plans to release her eye shadow in a market that has extended to Rwanda and Tanzania.
And now that her cosmetic lines are a success, she is a sky of inspiration to Vera Sidika who launched her beauty shop where she sold synthetic and human hair weaves but flopped. The curvaceous socialite known for endless trips to Dubai announced she will be launching “Veetox”, her own herbal tea detox.
Also ripping big from her own product is former Miss Tanzania, actress and socialite Wema Sepetu who launched “KISS”, a lipstick line back in 2015.
4. Appearances in Videos, Clubs and Hosting Parties
White Party or Johnnie Walker Gold Label is the brain of Zari Hassan. Over the years, she has managed to pull hundreds from all over the world to her celebrities’ affair events and beach parties. The mother of five has organized parties from Kampala, to Nairobi, Tanzania to London and corporate bodies like Coco Cola and Vodacom have sponsored the events.
Such is the clout and magnetism of East African socialites where they get paid for just showing up in club parties and red carpet events. Many club owners and event organizers seek to cash on the hype and buzz these socialites generate whenever it’s announced they will be at an event. Whether it’s a red carpet event like product and movie launches or just raunchy night parties, wherever they go, crowds or admirers tend to follow. There is also the pre and post marketing gains clubs and events get when these socialites post in their highly engaging social pages.
5. Date Wealthy and Famous men
Diamonds have always been a girl’s best friend and finding a man with the ability and generosity to dish them out doesn’t hurt to socialites. With their beauty, charm and allure, these socialites have no problem finding rich suitors who are behind several of their business projects and their endless globe-trotting trips. Often, these same benefactors get to throw in their expensive toys as gifts or the much needed connection to make the step up.
Zari Hassan is known for her social media obsession and high-profile relationships. Before marrying Diamond in 2015, Zari was first married to tycoon Ivan Ssemwanga and had three children. Others she has dated are Isaac Lugudde, King Lawrence, Exodus and Sempala. On her part, for the first time in life, Vera has opened up on the man she is dating. According to her, the man is Nigerian Tycoon based in Dubai.
Most people say they wish these socialites would just fade into oblivion because they corrupt morals. But it’s hard to tell if a socialite can stay away from controversy or throw away their fairytale lifestyles. For now, we have to live with the fact that, they are here and will receive media attention despite their lack of talent or personal achievement.