Interview
Photo courtesy of Boity

In Conversation: Boity Wants to Create Bad-Ass Anthems for Black Girls

Make space for the up-and-coming rapper. She's here to stay, and on her own terms.

Boitumelo 'Boity' Thulo is a South African TV personality, actress, entrepreneur and model for the Sissy Boy brand. Her journey to stardom began when she landed a gig as a co-presenter on the educational show The Media Career Guide on SABC 1 alongside Stevie French. She has since graced South African television screens for years, acting on the local drama series Rockville and hosting the popular music show Club 808. Last year, Boity surprised many when she released her first trap-inspired single, "Wuz Dat" featuring the lyrical maverick, Nasty C. She recently released her second single entitled "Bakae", where she spits a few verses in English but mostly pays homage to her native Sotho language.


In the beginning South Africans were not convinced, however, that Boity's transition into music would be all that successful or that it should even happen at all. Quite a number of them felt that she should rather "stick to what she knows" and leave music to "those who know how". However, with "Wuz Dat" having received close to a million YouTube views and "Bakae" steadily growing in numbers, they may just have to eat their words.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


You've released two singles, "Wuz Dat" and "Bakae". How does it feel to be able to personally add "rapper" to your resume?

It feels incredible. And now that I'm in this space, I realize only now how much I've wanted it and how at home I feel in this space. It's been such a massive chunk of me that's been waiting to be explored. It feels good.

For the longest time we've known Boity as a TV personality, a model for Sissy Boy and an actress. Is that space completely different to the music space?

Yeah, definitely. I think to a certain extent all of them require their own kind of characters I guess. I think in the other realm it's the politically correct and respectful voice that everyone knows and is used to. Not that she's not real but that she's just a part of me. I don't feel like that space would have ever given me a chance to showcase the rest of Boity the way in which rap has allowed me to.

Were you making moves to venture into the music space or did you finally get that opportunity and just said, "yes I'm going for it"?

I think it was more of an opportunity-based thing. The Boity brand is growing so organically without me having to try and push it to. But I think when the rapping opportunity came about it was just a matter of timing as well, where I felt like, "I think I'm ready to push myself a little further without the fear of the risks of doing it," you know? It was me being comfortable and secure enough in myself knowing that I'm gonna try it whether it fails or not.



In your first single, "Wuz Dat", you collaborate with Nasty C, one of our top notch and quality hip-hop artists. How was that experience?

It was fantastic. The whole experience has been brand new to me. I started questioning myself and thinking, "Is this was you thought it was gonna be?" And if so, "Do you really wanna do this?" So I went through all of that. Nasty C is a musical genius. He's so brilliant, and he's also so chilled, you know? I think it made a huge difference, having someone who is as talented, someone who is as well informed and someone who's so willing to work with me as he is. He allowed me to be scared, uncomfortable and free all at the same time.

Was there ever a moment where you asked yourself whether you should be rapping at all?

That was my first day in the studio and it was time for me to open my mouth and say something, you know? At the very beginning, I had to be comfortable with what my voice sounds like. Even now, I'm still very self-conscious about what I hear.


Do you like the way your voice sounds?

No. I'm still getting used to it and I'm still wrapping my head around it. I'm still getting comfortable in this space. And, also, just learning how my voice should sound, because I'm assuming that it's still gonna mature the more sessions I do. I'm gonna get used to what Boity sounds like. For now, obviously, we're seeing where it goes and we're testing the waters in terms of what sounds and feels comfortable, but I don't think I've discovered my voice as yet. But it takes more than two records to figure that out.

Nasty C has been welcoming to you. Do you feel like the rest of the music space, especially the more veteran female rappers such as Rouge, Gigi Lamayne and Nadia Nakai, have been as welcoming?


The reception was amazing. People were truly cheering me on. Gigi, Nadia, Rouge, all of them. They all tweeted and they were congratulating me, But, without a doubt, I think the reception I received was incredible. I wasn't expecting it. And, I wouldn't have held anyone against it if they hadn't congratulated me. It's okay. No one has to.

Read: Why Nasty C is The Greatest South African Rapper of This Generation

What would you say makes you a little nervous or anxious in this new space?

And, the only thing that makes me nervous, I guess, is before I get on stage. It's never the same because it's a different crowd all the time. It's a different space and a different time. Different energy as well.

How do you handle those nerves? What are some of the processes you go through?

Obviously, mentally, I'm preparing for this five days before the show. But, if I know that I'm about to get on stage, in like 10 or 20 minutes, I don't want anyone to talk to me. I'm getting lost in my thoughts—just self-preparation and calling on my ancestors. I just want to make sure that I give people my best at any given moment, whether it's 17 people or 17 000 people. It must be the same energy because they all just bought tickets.

Boity performs at the South African Hip Hop Awards in 2018. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Do you channel anyone or are you just trying to focus on Boity and developing your own identity as a musician?


I wouldn't say I've stopped listening to female rappers altogether, but I've tried to lessen that so that I don't get subconsciously influenced. The last thing you want now is to hear, "Oh, but you sound like this person." I try to not think of anything or anyone. It's just me.


You're an actress, a model and now, you're becoming a rapper. What do you have to say about the "open up the industry" conversation?

Well, for me, personally, it's such a tricky conversation because I know that essentially it does lead to people thinking that opportunities are being given to the same people all the time. But people don't understand that it took ten years to get to the point where it seems like, now I'm getting everything. You had to build. Actually, trust, is more more than anything, that's the main one. Trust with producers, people who can trust you with coming, showing up on time. And they don't know how long it took for me to get a certain gig. What if I'd been working on it for three years? People don't see those things.

And so, their assumption is purely based off of the end product and also, it's a massive chunk of this conversation about "opening up the industry" should be with gatekeepers and those are the people that call us.

Perhaps there is the misconception that because of all the glamour in your line of work, you don't have to work as hard?


You don't even know how much pay and how much we work; the hours we have to put in to get to that point. It's like, again, it's you look at the end product. And, it's almost like people wanna show up to a good life. A lot of the people who want the industry to be open based on this thing that they see; this glamorous side, it almost feels like they're not willing to put in the work. They just wanna rock up and be in the dress and be on the red carpet and also be presenting.

Boity - Bakae (Audio)www.youtube.com


What kind of music do you want to make? What music would make you happy?

Well, I definitely wanna make music for, like you say, black girl magic. That would be dope. Whether it's about us getting our own money or you know, making it sound as bad bitch as possible. Just a female anthem. But, if I can create anything that resonates with a young female and it makes them feel like, "Hey man. This created some form of a shift in my mind to either do better or to step forward for myself and to put my foot down and say, I deserve more."

Are you going to keep dropping singles, getting into the feel of it? Are we expecting an album soon?


No pressure. We'll see how it goes. We're gonna go with the flow. I don't wanna make any promises to myself or to people. I think people should just know that whenever I come out with something...there it is.

Follow Boity on Twitter (@Boity) and stream her first two singles below.





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Photo Credit: From Taamaden

10 Upcoming African Films to Look Forward to in 2022

From Nigerian thrillers to South African documentaries, here are 10 African films we are looking forward to in 2022.

The glitzy and glamorous Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) recently returned for its 43rd edition. The eight day festival, which took place in Durban (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), featured an embarrassment of riches on the program, from around the world. The festival is a good indicator of what we can expect from African cinema for the rest of 2022.

The 10 films on this list were all screened at the festival. These films managed to stand out for reasons that have been explained below. (One of those films, Robin Odongo's Bangarang from Kenya, won the Best African Feature Film award at DIFF.)

Do not miss these movies when they come to a theater or streaming platform near you.

1960 (South Africa)

This pleasant, King Shaft directed period musical centers a heroine who may have been inspired by the life of the late South African icon Miriam Makeba. 1960 opened the Durban festival this year and set the tone for what would come after. Lindi (played by both Zandile Madliwa and Ivy Nkutha) is a singer who in her twilight days digs back into her past to shed light on the murder of an apartheid-era police officer when his remains turn up in Sharpeville some six decades after the infamous massacre of 1960.

African Moot (South Africa​)

There are plenty reasons to be hopeful for the future of the continent. According to Shameela Seedat’s African Moot, the educated youth are leading the way. This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows a group of bright law students who are participating in the annual African Human Rights Moot Court Competition. Seedat, a human rights law specialist turned filmmaker, heads to the University of Botswana with her subjects. Her film details the interesting ways the students approach the fictional case of a people crossing fictional African borders to escape oppression.

​Bangarang (Kenya)

Inspired by true events, Robin Odongo’s chaotic feature expounds on an earlier short film. Bangarang’s protagonist, Otile (David Weda) is a graduate of engineering who has failed to secure decent employment a decade after university. He makes a meagre living as a bike rider instead. When election violence erupts after the disputed Kenyan presidential elections of 2007, an embittered Otile leads rioters on the streets of Kisumu. Before long, he is on the run from the law, accused of murder.

Collision Course (Nigeria)

A frustrated young man collides with the brutal power of the police force. Can a tormented official stop the descent into carnage? The third feature length title from Nigerian director Bolanle Austen-Peters (The Bling Lagosians, The Man of God) is a propulsive thriller set over the course of 24-hours. Starring Daniel Etim Effiong and Kelechi Udegbe, Collision Course digs into the underbelly of urban crime, law enforcement gone rogue, and the desperate victims that suffer the consequences.

The Crossing (La Traversee) (Burkina Faso)

After years in Italy, Djibi returns to his native Burkina Faso and begins to mentor a group of young people whose sole purpose is to leave for Europe. Djibi prepares them for this crossing through a tasking physical and intellectual program that helps bring them personal achievement and may end up neutering their resolve to migrate. Can he make this difference? Irène Tassembédo’s social drama embraces the complicated nature of the immigration experience.

Lesotho, the Weeping Motherland (South Africa)

Told interchangeably between South Africa and Lesotho, this Lwazi Duma-directed documentary engages with the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector, a key income earner in the region. Duma follows Khethisa Mabata as he attempts to revive his father’s farm. The film uses Mabata’s personal story as an entry point into the larger national crisis that has taken Lesotho from a thriving food basket to one suffering extreme drought.

Skeletons (South Africa)

Conceived as an experiment in theatre-making during the COVID-19 lockdowns, this magical realist expression was re-written for film and now sits somewhere as a hybrid between theatre and film. Set in the heart of the Maluti mountains, Skeletons grapples with the issue of land and ownership as told through the lives of four characters. In an environment of scarcity, these four people wrestle to break free from the vicious cycle of oppression. Skeletons confronts notions of home, belonging, and identity.

Streams (Tunisia)

Amel, a married Tunis factory worker is imprisoned on charges of adultery and prostitution following an assault. Upon release, she attempts to put back the pieces of her life and reconnect with her teenage son whose life was derailed by the scandal. Director Mehdi Hmili comments on the decay, contradictions, and hypocrisies of contemporary Tunisian society with this engaging drama about the breakdown of a working-class family and the state’s unwillingness to protect the vulnerable.

Taamaden (Cameroon)

In Taamaden, Mali-born filmmaker Seydou Cissé paints a uniquely intimate portrait of immigration and zeroes in on spirituality. Taamaden, which is the Bambara word for traveler or adventurer, presents two different points of view. The first is that of Bakary, a young Malian preparing for yet another attempt at crossing over to Europe. The other is a motley crew of West African immigrants struggling to survive in Spain. They are united by their ties to their spiritual clairvoyant.

You’re My Favorite Place (South Africa)

Jahmil X.T. Qubeka (Of Good Report, Knuckle City) is one of the most exciting and original cinematic voices on the continent. His latest, which closed the Durban film festival, is a change of pace attempt that also carries some of Qubeka’s slick imprint. On the last day of high school, the young heroine of You’re My Favorite Place and her three friends embark on an unforgettable road trip. They steal a car and head to the remote Hole in the Wall, a landmark that according to Xhosa legend, enables communication with the dead.

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The 10 Best South African Songs of the Month (July)

Featuring Blaq Diamond, Sliqe, Blxckie, Mlindo The Vocalist, Mellow & Sleazy and more.

Here are the South African songs and music videos that caught our attention this month.

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Interview
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Kelvyn Boy On Becoming One of Afrobeats’ Leading Stars

The Ghanaian singer narrates how his latest single "Down Flat" has accelerated the trajectory of his career.

Kelvyn Boy is one of the leading afrobeats hitmakers from Ghana. Since his official debut in 2017 under singer Stonebwoy’s record label imprint Burniton Music Group, the talented singer, songwriter, and performer has consistently dished out hit after hit. From the sentimental midtempo ballad “Na You” to the gritty afropop cut “Mea” to his Mugeez and Darkovibes-assisted smash hit “Momo”, with every new release Kelvyn Boy has established his profile as one of the West African nation’s top afrobeats acts.

Fast forward to January 2022, Kelvyn Boy drops his most recent single “Down Flat," an infectious afrobeats single produced by Nigerian producer KullBoiBeatz, and the song has been immensely successful. “Down Flat” has held the number one spot on Apple Music’s “Top 100: Ghana” playlist, hit number 10 on Billboard’s “Worldwide Digital Song Sales” chart, just a couple of out several other accolades the song has landed in the few short months since its release.

The effect of the song’s success has already kicked in, with the singer in London, United Kingdom as I speak to him, which is one of the early stops of his current world tour. “Down Flat” is currently the biggest song of his career so far, and even Kelvyn Boy himself didn’t see it coming. “Some of the great things that happen are unpredictable and unplanned. I didn’t really see it coming” he explained. “Everyone believes in himself or herself. I have that belief and that feeling already when I’m making every song. If it’s not right, I won't sing it. But I didn’t see it coming as quick as it did, and I didn’t know it would get to this level. I knew it was gonna be big, but honestly it got out of hand.”

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Photo Credit: Adedamola Odetera

An Inside Look Into the Underground Queer Party Scene in Nigeria

As a result of the laws and law enforcement bodies in the country, queer nightlife in Nigeria is shrouded in secrecy and has been forced to go underground.

A few minutes before midnight on a June evening, there was a line of people attempting to gain access to an unmarked apartment block in Lekki Phase 1 — a suburban neighborhood in Lagos State. To the uninitiated, it was a regular house party in the heart of Lagos Island, which is populated with young people in their 20s. For the attendees who had a flier on their phones and a passcode on their lips, this was an event they had looked forward to for weeks. When they arrived at the doors, they were all asked for a passcode which transported them into a vibrant pulsing party which had drag queens walking across the room and men in shorts that barely went past their crutches gyrating on other men while afrobeats blared. Welcome to queer nightlife in Nigeria where, on weekends, apartments turn into gay clubs, barred with passcode-guarding doors to protect against homophobes.

Party people hugging each other

Secret house parties, discrete raves, and clubs are now becoming increasingly popular amongst young queer Nigerians.

Photo Credit: Adedamola Odetera

Across the country, especially in the big cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, lounges, clubs, and bars dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community have started sprouting despite legislation that makes it illegal for them to exist. In 2014, the Nigerian government passed the highly controversial and homophobic Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Despite the name, the law would go on to criminalize many other aspects of queer existence and not just marriage between people of the same sex. The far-reaching law criminalized queer social spaces, groups that advocate for queer rights, and even individuals advocating and supporting queer rights. The law also went on to prescribe a prison term that could go up to 14 years for those who were found guilty of these crimes in southern Nigeria. However, in Northern and mostly Muslim Nigeria, where Shariah law takes pre-eminence, these crimes could lead to death by stoning. While there isn’t an extensive record of people being found guilty for these crimes in Nigeria, these laws emboldened many homophobic mobs who took the laws into their hands and would beat individuals who they identified as queer and destroy spaces and parties that they suspected were hosted by or for queer people. One of the most infamous instances was a 2018 case where 57 men were arrested at a party in Lagos under the suspicion of being initiated into a gay club. While this particular case garnered significant press coverage as the men were made to go to trial, it is far from being the only case of its kind. It is fairly common for the police to raid suspected queer parties to arrest everyone in sight — often with little to no proof of the suspects being gay.

As a result of the laws and law enforcement bodies in the country, queer nightlife in Nigeria has been forced to go underground. Bars and clubs are left behind for parties in apartments. Recent years have seen a resurgence in the public profile of queer nightlife in Nigeria — partly thanks to a rise of resistance against oppressive systems within Nigeria that have been supported and have originated on social media, more queer people are becoming brave and open about queer nightlife in Nigeria. Secret house parties, discrete raves and clubs are now becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst young queer Nigerians. Creative collectives like hFactor and Pride in Lagos have pushed the narrative even further by organizing pride-specific events and raves in Lagos over the last few years.

Man making out with man

"‘‘I had been to clubs before but this was different. There was a freedom I didn’t feel in other parties."

Photo Credit: Adedamola Odetera

‘‘My first time at a queer party in Nigeria was in 2021. A friend invited me to a hFactor event and It was such an experience,’ Peju, a 23-year-old bisexual man tells OkayAfrica. ‘‘I had been to clubs before but this was different. There was a freedom I didn’t feel in other parties. Guys were grinding on guys, girls were flirting with girls. There wasn’t a need to pretend to be something I’m not.’’

However, attending these events comes with specific risks. Guests often took precautions — attending the parties with friends, letting their friends who weren’t there know where they were at and confirming there were accessible exits at all times. For many of these attendees, they may have never had to use those themselves but they know of people or at least have heard of people who have had to. Tamuno, a 31-year-old gay man, tells me of a near-capture experience when he had gone to a party in Port Harcourt in 2020.

‘‘There was this party that happened weekly. It became kind of popular and more queer people started coming. What we didn’t account for was that neighbors had realized it was full of queer people,’ Tamuno said. ‘‘One day, we were all at the party and they surrounded the house. Some of us managed to escape, others weren’t as lucky. I wasn't lucky.’’ Tamuno recounts that after being taunted and shamed and then stripped to their boxers for a relatively long time, the police then came. ‘‘The police coming to carry us was what saved us because then my brother, who I called, was able to bribe them to let us go. Whenever I think about what would happen if the police hadn’t come, I experience a full body shudder.’’

a group of people taking photos

Organizers have to find ways to limit people who can gain access to these parties.

Photo Credit: Adedamola Odetera

To help combat this, organizers of these events prioritize security and the safety of their guests. It is important that attendees feel safe from homophobic attacks from civilians and the armed forces. To achieve this, organizers have learned to deploy multiple guards.

‘‘Everyone’s safety is a priority to me and this means that multiple channels of security are constantly put in place to help safeguard our guests.’’ Kayode Timileyin, one of the organizers of Pride In Lagos tells OkayAfrica. ‘‘The first of which is the fact that all our events are only by a registration and verification process. Also, external security guards are made available. Lastly, we go all out to look for a real safe space.’’

It doesn’t end at just verifying the identities of the guests. Organizers have to find ways to limit people who can gain access to the location. This might mean generating a password only verified guests are given or keeping the exact location — and sometimes even date — a secret and only given to the verified guests. For these organizers, these security measures are put in place, not against potential miscreants or robbers but instead to keep off the police force and homophobes.

woman wearing black smiling

Despite dangers, the queer nightlife scene is bustling and thriving.

Photo Credit: Adedamola Odetera

The underground nightlife scene in Lagos is bustling and thriving — despite the laws that criminalize it and the constant danger. This illustrates the spirit of resilience amongst queer Nigerians who choose to reach for any semblance of freedom they can find even if it is on the dance floor for just a night.

‘‘My experience getting arrested traumatized me. It scared me. I was getting beaten, and paraded and I was so scared that they would kill me. But they didn’t so of course, I’ll party again," Tamuno said. ‘‘I still go to these parties and I’ll still keep going. It’s not that I’m scared. It’s just that when I’m on the dance floor surrounded by other queer men, I feel like my true self. I feel happy. I feel content. And that’s what I want out of life. If I die because I am seeking that, that’s fine.’’

a group of friends taking a photo

More queer people are becoming brave and open about queer nightlife in Nigeria.

Photo Credit: Adedamola Odetera

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