Meet the duo behind Zimcelebs… how controversy helped grow a brand
By Lance Guma
It all started with a story that claimed sultry singer Ammara Brown had refused to perform the song Bhachura with Exq during a tour of the United Kingdom. Ammara and ExQ then recorded a live video denying the story published by the then relatively unknown online portal Zimcelebs.
With help from that controversy, Zimcelebs has exploded from nothing to something in just over 2 years. South Africa based Zimbabwean businessman and nightclub owner Lewis John and journalist Tafadzwa Rusike Gondo, both 27 years old, are the driving force behind the project.
Gondo said the idea was inspired by Shaderoom in the United States. According to its wiki profile “Instagram-based, The Shade Room offers celebrity gossip on an hourly basis, predominantly within the African American community; The New York Times called it the “TMZ of the internet.”
In an exclusive interview with Nehanda Radio, Gondo said “We decided to do our own (The Shade Room) for Zimbabwe. We started the project in February 2017… then we opened our Facebook page and Zimcelebs online website in March 2018.”
With help from the controversy surrounding Ammara’s alleged snub of ExQ in the UK, Gondo explained how the popular singers “then did a live video accusing us of publishing the story which was later then published by the Chronicle. That’s when the traffic started to come,” he said.
Tafadzwa Rusike Gondo previously worked as a freelance journalist and had been writing entertainment articles for different papers in Zimbabwe. Lewis John is a businessman running a fashion shop in Johannesburg and also owns three bars across South Africa.
Gondo admits they sometimes have a complicated relationship with Zimbabwean celebrities.
“We are in good books with most of them but some have blocked us. Some don’t follow us and they only get in touch when they need us to help them push their projects which we gladly do.”
The project still needs help from well-wishers as Gondo explained. “We need things like cameras and microphones for events and shows and so far we are using mobile phones.
“To all our fans, thank you for supporting Zimcelebs. If you have ideas that will help us grow bigger please contact us and let us know,” Gondo added.
Zimcelebs can be reached on +17164581461 and +19402429287 and email [email protected]