Bonang Matheba, also known as Queen B, has more than just her birthday to celebrate this year. Turning 36, she is also marking an impressive 20-year journey in the entertainment industry. Back in the day, as a young TV presenter, Bonang embarked on her career, and since then, she has blossomed into an influential figure. With her trend-setting style, she has captivated audiences as a TV and radio presenter, earning numerous awards and recognition. Not only that, but Bonang has also become a sought-after host for live shows, a successful entrepreneur, and a dedicated philanthropist.
In honor of Bonang’s 36th birthday, MEFeater takes a closer look at her illustrious career, shedding light on 20 of her most remarkable highlights and milestones from the past two decades.
1. The House of BNG
In 2019, Bonang Matheba became the first black woman to join the Cap Classique Producers Association with the establishment of her high-end beverage company, the House of BNG. The House of BNG soon gained popularity as a go-to beverage for celebrations. Since its inception, the brand has benefited from numerous partnerships. Some of these include the 2019 Presidential Inauguration, the Forbes 30 Under 30 Meet-up 2019, the 2019 South Africa Luxury Tourism Awards, the Luxe Restaurant Awards 2020 and 2021, the 2020 Sun Met, the 2020 SA Sports Awards, the 2020 Forbes Africa Leading Women Summit, and the Miss South Africa organization, where the partnership is in its fifth year.
Bonang contributes both financial resources and her voice to support causes close to her heart, with the education of girls ranking first on that list. She founded the Bonang Matheba Bursary Fund in response to the South African 2016 #FeesMustFall protest, which has allowed several girls to continue their tertiary education. Her other charitable endeavors include Global Citizen, where she promotes the fight against period poverty as a way to keep girls in school; the Leave No Girl Behind campaign at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly; Zero Malaria; Girls Count; and the One Campaign.
3. Influence and Inspiration
At the Global Social Awards in Prague in 2019, Bonang was presented with the “Influence and Inspiration Award” in appreciation of the use of her platform to uplift and inspire others. In 2020, she was listed as one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Africa” by Forbes Women Africa. Bonang has also been listed among the “Most Influential Young Africans” by Avance Media, the “10 Most Powerful Women in South Africa” by Bona Magazine, the “10 Most Influential Icons in Contemporary African Pop Culture” by Africa.com, and the “10 Most Influential Young South Africans in Media” by Mail and Guardian, among other publications.
Bonang is the most honored media personality in Africa, with accolades from the Czech Republic, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, and other countries. Some of the honors she has on her shelf are the Global Social Awards: Ultimate Pop Culture Icon, E! Africa Pop Culture Awards, E! African Influencer, People’s Choice Awards: Best Personality of the Year, SA Style Awards: SA Style Icon, Five For Change Maker Award, Olivier Empowerment Awards, and GQ Men of the Year Awards: Woman of the Year award.
Bonang has enjoyed many lucrative partnerships with big brands throughout her career. The latest such partnership is her collaboration with Steve Madden. The partnership, which started in New York in 2022, involved Bonang Matheba designing her own Steve Madden holiday select collection. This made her the first African to collaborate with the brand. She has also worked with numerous other brands, including Courvoisier, Ciroc, Samsung, and Nivea. In 2013, she became the first Revlon ambassador outside the United States.
6. Cover Girl
Matheba has appeared on more than fifty magazine covers. These include Forbes Women Africa, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Seventeen, GQ, FHM, and Grazia. She was the first Black South African to cover both Glamour and FHM.
7. Bonang Matheba Entertainment
Bonang Matheba Entertainment, Bonang’s production firm, has been around for over ten years. Its production credits include ‘Public Figure,’ a documentary on how to make the most of social media while remaining aware of its flaws. It has also produced fan-favorite reality shows – Bdazzled, Being Bonang, and Lights Camera Fashion.
8. The Blue Print for TV Presenting
When Bonang initially appeared on TV as a kids’ show host, she immediately drew attention, but it was presenting the South African music show ‘LIVE’ that cemented her as a top TV presence. Her dazzling demeanor and wardrobe kept viewers captivated by the screen, and her presenting style has since set the norm for many aspiring television personalities. Beyond TV, many young people in the entertainment industry and beyond look to her for advice on how to develop a profitable and lasting brand.
9. UN General Assembly Panel Moderator
In pursuit of her philanthropic work, Bonang led a panel debate on children’s education at the United Nations General Assembly in 2018. The panel featured French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
10. Miss South Africa Partnership
Bonang frequently mentions hosting the Miss South Africa pageant as a major career highlight. The collaboration began in 2018, when Bonang hosted Miss SA for the first time. In 2019, she returned as host, which coincided with her alcohol brand, The House of BNG, becoming the pageant’s official celebration partner. Talk about fantastic brand alignment!
11. Host With The Most
Bonang rates highly when it comes to event hosting. Her contagious energy is guaranteed to get everyone in the spirit, whether she’s presenting a beauty contest, an award ceremony, a music festival, or a corporate event. Her previous hosting credits include the Miss South Africa pageant, the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, the MTV Africa Music Awards, the Future Awards, Miss Africa, the Metro FM Music Awards, the Global Citizen Festival, the Sound City Awards, and many more.
12. Fashion Icon
Bonang has been a style icon and source of style inspiration for many since she has been in the industry. The SA Style Awards 2015 awarded her the Style Icon accolade, confirming her standing as a style icon. She has won over ten style honors, including Glitz Style and Fashion Honors, Abryanz Style & Fashion Awards, You Spectacular Awards, African Hair Awards, Glamour Women of The Year Awards, Feather Awards, and Gsport Awards.
13. Reality TV
Bonang became the first South African star to create an online reality show with the introduction of her online reality show, BDazzled, in 2011. She later returned to reality television with her smash show Being Bonang, and she recently gave in to fan requests by reviving BDazzled on YouTube. Her most recent reality TV appearance was as a guest star on Netflix’s hit reality show Young, Famous, and African, where she appeared in a few episodes during the second season.
Bonang has not only created a bankable brand, but she has also managed to keep it robust and relevant for the past twenty years. She’s turned that brand into a business while retaining the bright energy and charisma that initially drew people to her. She has paid her dues, and twenty years later, she is Africa’s largest media company, a sought-after host, and a successful entrepreneur. Her journey has not been without scandals and hardships, but her brand is so powerful that she has withstood every storm.
Bonang’s career has been characterized by one glass-ceiling-breaking move after another. BNG made her the first black woman to join the Cap Classique Producers Association. Recently followed by the first-ever Steven Madden collaboration with an African celebrity. She was also the first black South African to cover Glamour Magazine, similar to the FHM Magazine cover. She also became the first African-based celebrity to have an E! Special made about them and the first South African woman to cover a stand-alone issue of GQ Magazine. These and other firsts have motivated others to pursue aspirations they never dreamed were feasible.
16. Queen of Quotables
Bonang will casually say something that will suddenly become a trend. Her reality show, Being Bonang, popularized a new jargon that is being used today. This could be attributed to her relatable attitude. For every circumstance, there is a Bonang statement or reaction video.
Bonang Matheba believes in the power of silence and frequently employs a ‘do not explain, do not clarify’ strategy. However, when the line is crossed, she is not hesitant to engage her legal team. While in New York in 2021, she took to Twitter to announce the termination of her contract with her then-management – Celebrity Services Africa (CSA). Due to alleged illegal behavior by the company and its representatives, she was pursuing legal action against them. A long and bitter legal struggle ensued over ownership of Bonang’s sparkling wine brand, House of BNG, and her trademarks. In the year 2023, Bonang emerged as the winner.
Every stage in Bonang’s twenty-year career has proven that it is possible to achieve your dreams and success if you prepare, seek out chances, and work hard enough. What distinguishes Bonang Matheba is how her inspiration spans generations. Bonang is the personification of what is achievable for her fellow millennials, the younger generation, and even the older generation if they work for it.
19. The BForce
Bonang’s reputation, like that of many other celebrities, frequently exposes her to social media attacks. Whether online attacks are reasonable criticism or unfair attachments by keyboard warriors, it helps to have an army of followers ready to protect you. Bonang has that in her extremely loyal supporters – the BForce. Her supporters unconditionally embrace her work and defend her. They attend her shows, purchase publications and tickets, and vote for her to win accolades. Her supporters created the hashtag #IamBonang to support her after she was cyberbullied in 2018. The BForce continuously supports her past, present, and future dreams and goals, wishing the Queen all the best in her future plans.
20. Brand Bonang Future Plans
For the time being, fans can expect the House of BNG and Miss South Africa collaboration to continue. According to the BForce, the long-awaited nonalcoholic BNG will be released later this year. We are also hoping for another holiday collection with Steve Madden. Bonang is also still hoping to win an Emmy one day.