Churchgoers and subjects of any kingdom will tell you that a good sermon, or a good speech, must be delivered with the conviction of a seasoned performer. Raised the grandchild of a pastor, it’s no surprise hat Sikelela Nomvete would grow up to be the formidable performer that is Mr Allofit.
“My grandmother ran the church, my mom was a singer and my stepfather was a saxophonist.” The singer/songwriter affirms that, “there was no better place to grow my musicality than in church. I think I gained my confidence from home.” Confidence is a character trait that illuminates boldly from the self proclaimed “Superstar of the Century”, as do his fashion choices. The talent to pull off eye catching looks was not however limited to himself. “God gave me the ability to style other people,” he says with an aura of humility.
His debut as a stylist began as far back as 2011 where he and best friend Lelo “Suburban Zulu” Macheke styled Nomuzi Mabena on her way to victory on MTV’s VJ search. “Everyone at home was heavily in fashion and taught me to always make a statement with what I wear,” he explains.
As the founder and CEO of Allofit Entertainment, Mr Allofit in collaboration with Bonga Kani have styled the music videos of Kwesta, Thabsie, Sho Madjozi and the South African hip hop summer hit Mali Eningi featuring Big Zulu and Riky Rick to name a few.
His most recent campaign saw him work with DJ Zinhle as a creative collaborator and ambassador for her #NewEraLoveIsLove watch range. True to his name, he as also collaborated with the mogul as a stylist and choreographer for her “Umlilo” music video in 2019. His grandmother was of service to God and as a stylist to the stars, he has been of service to the industry. In his eyes there is no difference. “Being of service is always something spiritual,” he exhales. “You have to practice something enough to be spiritually and professionally excellent at it. I had to learn.”
Those lessons weren’t always easy to take. A bright eyed Sikelela matriculated in the Eastern Cape and attempted to complete a degree in fashion at Lisof. He boastfully speaks of dropping out within three months on his 2019 single Best Dressed to pursue dance with his former dance mates in the Vintage Crew. He opted for the streets of Johannesburg opposed to the four walls of an institution as his varsity.
“It’s tough cause when you don’t see results sometimes you don’t want to continue, you have to push yourself to keep going,” he confessed. “God gives you so many challenges and ideas that you sometimes don’t have money for but you need to be fulfilled and find peace in things.” His decision to follow his heart and not conform has been vindicated as his stock has steadily risen in the industry. More importantly to him, his character and maturity have been put to the test on multiple occasions with the greatest of those tests being patience. “I still need to learn to let go and let be. I’m a little bit of a control freak but now I’ve learnt to let it happen.”
It is this engrained feeling of freedom that has allowed him to work without restriction in the country and beyond despite being an openly queer creative. “Before Angola changed its laws, I crossed the border with my braids and my heels in my bag. I am a walking banner for my queerness, there has never been a restriction for me,” he proclaims with the assurance of preacher on Good Friday. The world’s not all anti-LGBTQIA+ in his view, common ground is an Easter egg hunt away from being found. “Society is accepting but the narrative has to change.”
His latest single “Nguban’ Ozosnqanda?” (Who’s going to stop us?) is his attempt to shift this narrative. From the song title to the last note of the record it’s clear that this is meant as a rhetorical question. Allofit proudly delivers with a bravado that pronounces a swagger in the listener. “I wanted to speak about the struggles black queer femmes go through and make them feel unstoppable.”
Produced by Lindokuhle Malloy aka B1, the record is a sonic fusion of a kwaito bass progression and classic South African ’80s bubblegum chords laced with hip hop styled snare drums. It’s a nostalgic homage to the quintessential South African street style with an updated futuristic twist AboAllof, as he affectionately calls his diehard fans, have become accustomed to. The video features soapie star and heartthrob Teboho ‘FreshByCaddy’ Tsotetsi and trans model and activist Glo Mami.
When I asked on advice he had for other young artistic entrepreneurs he stressed the importance of starting small, sending many emails, networking and growing as many creative skills and income streams as one can. For him the key component to a successful artistic entrepreneurial career is faith. “Start believing in something bigger than yourself and think positively. Faith doesn’t cost a thing,” he beams at me.
Mr Allofit’s faith has led him to be of service to many but the time is ripe for him to bare the fruits of this service. “I always had to pay my dues and contribute to that time”. With his fingerprints all over the South African entertainment industry for the better part of a decade, those dues have surely been paid. It is time for the kingmaker who has done all of it to ascend to the throne.