Babes Wodumo (Bongekile Simelane) is a South African Kwaito artist, dancer and model who rose to fame with her hit song, “Wololo”. She is the daughter of Bishop Welcome Simelane, the leader of the Lamontville Mount Zion Faith Mission
Babes Wodumo was born Bongekile Simelane in the township of Lamontville on the southern outskirts of the city of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. She is the daughter of Bishop Welcome Simelane, the leader of the Lamontville Mount Zion Faith Mission and has been quoted saying she is God-fearing.
Her stage name, Babes Wodumo means “Fame Babe”. and she says when she was born, there was a group called The Babes and she had eyes like one of its members, which her father always referred to and said “Lo uw’Babes’ (this one is Babes).” The ‘Wodumo’ part of her stage name, which means “of fame”, came because she used to do dancing, acting, soccer, athletics, and was good at them all and became famous for them.
Babes Wodumo grew up in in the township of Lamontville with her grandmother and in a flat in the city center of Durban with her parents. It is understood that she has siblings. After her finishing high school Babes Wodumo went to the University of South Africa but later dropped out. “After my matric, I did it for a year with Unisa. But I dropped out because I didn’t like it. As much as I love people, I also love entertainment.”
She got her first break when she was part of the ladies who appeared in the music video for the Durban based Kwaito super-group, Big NUZ. “My agent says I talk too much. He said I’d get there and start asking about money and when I would get paid. I then said, ‘Okay, fine. I won’t go’,” Babes Wodumo said in an interview with the Sunday World.
On the day of the shoot, the agent called her begging her to go to the shoot, but she refused because she was angry. “He then begged my father, who agreed that I can go as long as I wear shorts on top of a bikini,” she told the Sunday World. Babes Wodumo got there with a friend, all hyped up and loud. This drew Mampitsha’s (of Big NUZ) attention.
“He kept looking at me and laughing. From there, we started talking as friends. Then two years down the line, he invited me to the studio and we took it from there,” Babes Wodumo told the Sunday World in an interview.
West Ink, “Wololo”, Gqom Queen Vol.1: 2016 – to date
Babes Wodumo is signed with Mampintsha’s West Ink label, and imprint of DJ Tira’s Afrotainment. In mid 2016 “Wololo”was released through West Ink and quickly gained traction. “Wololo” became such a hit that within three months it garnered over 2 million views.
“I’m grateful for the overwhelming support. Can’t wait to drop the album in October, because people are waiting for it and I can’t wait to see all my supporters at my shows,” Babes Wodumo said at the success of her debut single.
“We are celebrating. It’s a milestone she achieved in such a short space of time. It shows how people are interested in the brand. After a long time, South Africans have an authentically local talent they can celebrate,” Victor Dlokolo, Babes Wodumo’s manger was quoted saying.
On December 2, 2016 Babes Wodumo launched her debut album, Gqom Queen Vol.1, at Taboo nightclub in Sandton Johannesburg. The launch was attended by a number of industry insiders including Oskido and DJ Zinhle. “Thank you so much for welcoming me in the industry with open arms,” said Babes Wodumo. The 15-track album features Nigerian artist Davido, rapper Cassper Nyovest and Mampintsha among others.
Babes Wodumo is in a relationship with Mampintsha (Mandla Maphumulo) of Big NUZ. “I have a boyfriend, we have been together for quite a while, he is a well-known artist but I will not say his name,” she was quoted by the Sunday World. Since that Sunday World interview various media outlets have not only revealed that she is in a relationship with Mampintsha but that the pair is also engaged to be married.