Zenzele Hirschfeld is undoubtedly Botswana’s queen of promotions. The Mokwena native who hails from Molepolole in the Kweneng District, just like good vintage wine has genuinely mellowed with time. Her relentless strive and successes in a testosterone-infested showbiz game continues to debunk the wonky gender myth, proving that women are as much capable as their male counterparts.
From as far back as the dawn of the new millennium, circa 2001, synonymous with her name, Zenzele (short for Vukuuzenzele – rise and grind for yourself) – a determined Hirschfield just like the morning sun, rose and worked hard to position her brand and company Zen Promotions – which has been truly instrumental in elevating the magnum opus of several Botswana musicians and international stars alike.
It was through her unyielding quests that the Botswana music industry now competes globally and why we have revered and accomplished music stars locally. The bold and vivacious Zen continues to do the most for the performing arts. Besides steering her seasoned company, Zen Promotions, she also doubles as an artist manager for several stars – a calling she avidly enjoys. She’s also the President of Botswana EnterPromotions Association (BEPA), a body which seeks to bridge the gap between local artists and government in matters of welfare.
October being Zen’s birthday month, the audacious queen of promotions has been on cloud nine celebrating her milestone and achievements of the past 16 years. She speaks to #BotswanaUnplugged about her journey and everything else in between…
How would you describe yourself and where do you hail from?
I am simply a go-getter girl from Molepolole. What you see is what you get and I truly love people. I’m passionate about the music industry too.
What do you abhor most in life?
Emotional Abuse of any form. I’ve lost friends over the years who died in silence simply because they lived in abusive relationships. We must all speak up against any form of abuse.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
You’ve got only one life to live! You must take good care of yourself.
What do you listen to or do when you are looking for inspiration?
Gospel music. I am a worshiper and being in the zone with my father above in Heaven always fulfils my spirit.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about you?
That I’m a tough cookie on the outside but deep down I have a marshmallow heart and it easily gets broken.
What can’t you live without?
I can’t live without my phone as it keeps me connected to the world.
Please tell us a little bit about your family?
I am the middle child and my mother’s last born of the girls.
Who and what inspired you to go into showbiz and promotions?
It has to be Tebogo Chiliza Sekgoma. I also learnt a lot from giants such as the late Soares Katumbela, Tops Masole and Shima Monageng just to mention a few.
Please take us through this formidable journey from the teething stages of Zen Promotions until today; 16 solid years later…
It’s been a tough, sloppy yet a very wonderful road. What started off as a dream whilst at high school has now become my fulltime job, my bread and butter. I breathe, sweat and sleep the ‘Creative Industry’. My world revolves around the arts.
I’ve worked with the cream of South Africa’s giant musicians and I’ve worked with BW’s great musicians too. All the names you can think of really. I have hosted big shows too over the years. This is my life.
How did your big break come about?
I got an opportunity to be a Botswana representative of South Africa’s artist Mzambiya. This helped me secure the likes of Mafikizolo, Malaika, Bojo Mujo etc. on the list to affiliate with my company as their Botswana representative. The rest as they say is history.
Who is your role model and why?
My mother. She is a woman of strength and prayer. I’ve seen her rise as David during the Goliath days of her life. That has truly made me believe that whatever you set your mind to, you can achieve.
Do you have any limitations? Would you pose naked for the cover of a magazine for instance?
For a good cause I would. I don’t have and limitations really. Remember, we all have only one life to live.
What has been your biggest or favourite highlight of your life/career so far?
Giving birth to my daughter and having her around. Also visiting America where I came back home with President Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s AFRIMMA award.
Which other countries have you travelled to so far, courtesy of your work? Which ones were your favourite?
America, Japan, China, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zimbabwe to name but a few. Japan remains my favourite – the people and their rich culture of respect.
What excites you the most about being a celebrity (well you are)?
Funny enough, I have always wanted to be in the background hence why I build and make all these stars. The celebrity culture connects you to everything really – but it humbles you to know you are human after all.
Life would be simpler if…
We all had money.
What’s your typical weekday like?
It’s always hectic. I attend to my life, my artists, day planner and I’m also required to execute my duties as a mother to my 16-year-old daughter.
And your typical weekend…
I rarely get those really! My work is demanding especially on weekends but whenever I get a chance I do road trips.
What are your favourite out-of-town escapades; tell us where do you usually go and why?
I love beauty, heights and water. Boat cruises always refreshes my mind while swimming gets to relax me. Kasane and Maun are my preferred getaways.
Where do you enjoy shopping?
New York. All my best pairs of shoes, coats and bags are from USA.
What superhuman power would you most like to have?
The power to protect all children against any form of abuse.
Something that no one knows about me is…
I’ dance like an English girl because I’m a coconut.
My motto is…
Vukuuzenzele, Do it for yourself, Itirele.
My simplest pleasure is…
Having Peace of Mind.
The craziest fashion trend I have even followed is…
What celebrity crushes did you have as a teenager?
My biggest regret is…
I never regret my actions .We are all students of this thing called life. We are born to make mistakes and move on.
Before I die, I’d like to…
Visit Paris. I’m a romantic and believes this is the world’s most romantic city.
What surprises you most about adult life?
That you get to experience as a parent exactly what your parents used to warn you about.
My proudest moment was…
Having my Daughter. The power to have a life live inside you is incomparable.
What’s been your worst-ever career disaster…
Dating an artist.
What’s been the biggest life lesson in your career?
Patience is a virtue.
Ay place that sells seafood.
I’m a bubbly kinda girl.
Euphoria by Calvin Klein.
What are you listening to right now?
Mafikizolo – Love portion
Do you have a favourite Botswana musician; African artist and international artist?
Veezo View and Hugh Masekela.
Which international superstar would you like to work with and why?
Flava of Nigeria, he’s a full package of an artist and exactly what every artist manager yearns for.
We hear you have an epic soirée loading as part of you celebrating 16 years in the industry, please tell us more…
I’m happy to have a documentary that celebrates the excellence of my works dubbed ‘The Lady, Her Strength and The Friendships.’ This is happening today (Wednesday, 25th October) at New Capitol Cinemas in Riverwalk, Gaborone and entrance fee is P250. There’s also ‘The Queens Ball’ featuring Kings and Queens, which will take place at Chez Nicolas on Friday, October 27th and entry here is P100. The do is hosted by SCAR and Kefus Leo. There will be performances by King Veezo View, King BanT, MMP Kings, King Izzy, Queen Cupid, King Kuchi, Queen Mimi and King Root. So see y’all there!