Unathi Msengana: Love in the age of Social Media

Recently,  Unathi Msengana confirmed that she and husband, Thomas Msengana, are no longer together in an interview on E-NCA with Ayanda Allie-Paine.

It was no surprise to many, as speculations were making all the buzz for some time about her “marriage [being] on the rocks,” according to Daily Sun in an article claiming “Unathi and her husband Thomas ‘Bad Boy T’ Msengana are rumoured to be heading for divorce. One of the reasons for the alleged trouble in paradise is Unathi allegedly cheating on her husband.”

That said, Unathi was calm and graceful about what she confirmed in the interview. It is thus, the basis of what she said that led me to write this piece.

Among other things, Unathi spoke about the newspaper speculative reports, which she called false saying “I think we get to a point where we feel like we have to share our private lives.” Speaking about her marriage in relation to navigating being public figures, she said; “We are people who have never used our family for a PR campaign.”

Ayanda asked Unathi if she thought the “it couple” sensation and exaggerated interest on her marriage was due to her and husband’s public figure status, to which she replied, “We’ve never been that kind of couple though.” Their back and forth made me nostalgic of my time in University studying Media Studies, and in one class, delving into “The dumbing down of journalism: Tabloids.” Now, with the addition of social media, I don’t even know how low the dumbing has gone because these days, newspapers aren’t embarrassed to screen-grab tweets, caption them and call that an article.

Needless to say, as soon as the channel posted the interview on the internet, #unathidivorce started trending like Easter Eggs on Easter.

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You will remember that Unathi has had her bout in a Twitter boxing ring. The debacle with a Twitter follower in 2015 ultimately threatened her bread and butter as Metro FM suspended her. What followed was a public apology from the passionate Radio DJ and musician, and whatever was between the lines of her apology was clear anger, disappointment and ‘joys’ of having to be the bigger person.

Now, in 2017, there are obviously different arguments about her divorce; the first being those who have turned it into a joke. One went as far as saying “Badboy T gave unathi a shot in radio now she’s bigger than him she’s leaving him. These whores ain’t loyal udlwe umjita  Others who also shared negative comments about it were “LOLing” and “LMAOing” about how her tears on idols were because of the divorce. I can’t help but ask myself; when did divorce become a joke? When did those who have or are divorced parents forget its effects? And, why are we so hell-bent on laughing at Unathi even though she, with the utmost class, shared information we didn’t even deserve?

The other side of the spectrum is the one that is sensationally throwing the towel on love, alluding to the fact that Zwai and Melanie Bala are also divorcing, as well as Precious Kofi and her husband. In these sentiments, I find a very dangerous association of love only with a partner, which is not true because divorce can also be an act of self-love as well as love for the other person, enough to let them go to where they will be happiest. I also believe love is unattainable when paralleled only with who we think is an “it couple.” We are obviously duped in the #loveliveshere phenomenon of instant gratification, that we seek examples of what love should look like, as opposed to what love should feel like. Some couples do invite the pedestal (which comes with public opinion), and some couples don’t. But, what I am saying is whether it is AKA and Bonang or just plain irrelevant me with my boyfriend, relationships have the same fundamental dynamics and all go through rough patches – moments never captured on Instagram; so, focus on your relationship; let people divorce, damn!

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Latly, the Tweets I personally loved were the ones which seemed concerned about how Unathi was holding up. I think that’s all that matters. How is she and how is her heart… Ultimately, Unathi has a wholesome album, a banging body after two children (already an inspiration to moms wanting to get back on shape) and other things. I don’t know her personally but from her work, she continues to embody an African woman who is not afraid of her truth; who stands in and with it. Of course, we will not agree with all of her views because we all come from different walks of life and think differently. Like dust, she continues to rise. I hope we learn to cut each other some slack some day, soon.

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