Melissa Mpofu, Showbiz Editor
About eight years ago, Facebook (FB) users were introduced to one Nomathemba ‘Noma’ Primrose Ndebele.
Born in Harare on March 7, 1983, Noma, a single mother of two joined the social media networking site to share her crazy stories with likeminded people. Outgoing by nature, Noma knew people who mattered in different industries and strategically sent out friend requests to people with whom she wanted to execute her plot with.
Like every Facebook user, her first posts were to do with family while also updating people on her everyday life.
While she was at it, her Facebook friends were increasing by the day. Some, however were sceptical accepting her friend request as they were not sure of her motive, especially considering that her mother was a well decorated soldier who worked for the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. But Noma seemed to enjoy having people suspecting that she was an Intelligence agent – as this gave her leeway to post her gossip and x-rated content with not many having the guts to question her.
In no time, she got controversial as she started talking about sex using expressions which some felt were offensive. It was at this point that some unfriended her as they could not stand the heat. Some perverts as well as those who genuinely appreciated the tips on bedroom matters followed her closely, sharing the news with their friends. This in turn saw a rise in friend requests.
As the requests kept coming, Noma stepped up her game, ensuring she had fresh material for followers.
She enjoyed the attention so much and was comfortable with her posts that she started picking on certain individuals – usually without intending to cause harm. But considering that she did not know most of her FB friends in real life, they were never real friends, evidenced by the leaking of her material. In no time, those who would have been picked on, would soon know and use the same platform – FB – to fight back, insulting her. Unknown to them – this generated more interest in her – thereby resulting in more followers for Noma.
Since she knew her posts were controversial, she upon accepting new friends, made it a point she warned them about the material she posted as well as advising them that she was not a people pleaser.
“New people just catching on to the Noma fever please check your drama at the door prior to engaging on anything on my wall. We engage in civil discourse here over a myriad of topics. Personal attacks and pejorative insults will not be tolerated, except coming from yours truly . . .
“And if ever you are foolish enough to bring my personal issues into a discussion that I’ve not initiated – for the sole purpose of provocation, please know that I’m not responsible for the ensuing hellfire that is sure to rain down upon you.”
When tabloid newspaper, H-Metro launched in 2009, Noma gave them a good run for their money as she had become a trusted source of juicy gossip. Her Facebook account had become an entertainment hub – as people who followed her were guaranteed non-stop action, breaking news as well as intriguing x-rated topics.
The Noma brand had grown tremendously and some decided to label her the ‘Controversial Queen’, a titel she still holds up to today.
However, Noma, was not all about attacking people or sharing explicit content as she touched on different subjects ranging from fashion and beauty, relationships, business and politics. Her soft side always showed as she would from time to time give sound family advice among many other developmental issues.
“There comes a point in your life when ‘FUN’ no longer means clubbing and being out till 4AM! It means Disney movies, family dinners, bedtime stories, long cuddles, a sometimes messy house and sleeping by 10PM. Being a parent doesn’t change you, it makes you realise that the little people that you created deserve the very best of your time,” posted Noma in 2011.
It was in that same year that she realised she was no longer the simple Noma as she commanded a huge following which would from time to time notice her in public and compliment her for cheering them up on Facebook.
“I’m now a celeb because of Facebook? Just had guys say: ‘She’s the one (ndiye) when they saw me in town’. I was like chill, I didn’t rape no man!!
“They laughed and said: ‘You should think hard about acting, we love your originality on Facebook’,” is one of the posts posted by Noma shortly after she started realising that she had become an Internet sensation.”
This was the case again when she attended various national events. Noteable artistes including Judgement Yard, Killer T and Souljah Love also showed love by mentioning her in their songs. Some followers from the diaspora loved her so much to an extent of sending gifts such as mobile phones and tablets to ensure that she kept them entertained using the latest technology.
Her good writing skills were realised by tabloid newspaper, B-Metro which gave her space every week to share her controversial stories. The column was named Controversy Queen.
And now, eight years later, Noma has an even stronger online presence. She has however become unapologetic calling a spade a spade, with plenty ‘haters’ as well.
But, being the business minded woman – she has also realised that there is more to Facebook than that which meets the eye. From working for a boutique at the Eastgate mall in Harare as a shop attendant, Noma has used her ever-growing fan base to her advantage and set up her own female clothing shop.
While working for the initial boutique, Noma felt embarrassed and pressured each time followers would ask her if she owned the shop. It was this embarrassment that pushed her to work hard and set up her own business.
“Noma has been Facebooking for years and has gained a tribe of very loyal, passionate, well-educated, thoughtful, socially-aware, loving, and fiercely protective friends and followers respectively.
“I worked at the hottest fashion joint in Zimbabwe for a straight 10 years. Everyone famous and with notable social status shopped there. But with social media, I was getting famous to keep working there,” Noma said.
“. . . Showing up there (boutique) became monotonous and didn’t match the attention I was getting from ordinary folks on the street. Already I’d amassed the necessary experience and fair share of fans to cheer me on.
“I just needed to walk towards my purpose and I did . . No regrets”
Noma’s shop, Posh, was set up this year and is located at the Joina City mall in Harare. With less than two months, the trendy shop has already attracted the who’s who of Zimbabwe with the likes of former Miss Zimbabwe, Lorraine Maphala-Phiri travelling there from Bulawayo to shop.
Her travels have not gone to waste, evidenced by the way she is conducting business. One could be forgiven for thinking they are in South Africa when they enter Posh. Acting from experience after realising the power of social media herself, Noma is doing what most shops in Zimbabwe lack, being innovative. She has quickly set up mobile phone applications for Posh where those out of Harare and abroad can view, order and pay for their clothes in the comfort of their homes. Aside from that, clients are given a VIP treatment as they are served with a piece of cake and champagne to better their shopping experience.
The boutique will officially be launched later this month with hordes of socialites as well as government officials expected to convene there. Plans are also underway to set up a men’s shop.
Besides the usual craziness, Noma, from time to time uses her Facebook account to make appeals to assist those in need. Recently, she together with another Facebook sensation, CST Chizhanje, politician – Psychology Maziwisa and model Jacqueline Ngarande launched a campaign where they appealed for donations to assist actor – mdhara Bhonzo who had fallen on hard times.