“I made the things that it cannot make the pots to be done,” is one of the funniest things to be said on South African TV. Siyabonga Alone Makhavhu (18) is the young woman behind this line that left the country buzzing for months after the episode of SABC 2’s Speakout, which aired in November last year. She has been dubbed the “pots girl”. We’ve all seen the video and memes. We’ve shared and liked them, and had a good laugh.
But how does it feel to be a meme?
For Siyabonga, it was confusing. When I ask her that question over the phone, she sighs a sigh of defeat, and says, “The first time I saw the memes, I didn’t understand why people were doing this.” Siyabonga doesn’t say much, she gives mostly one-word answers. She’s soft-spoken by nature, but I can’t pick up any signs of distraughtness from her voice.
At the cusp of the memes, trolls created several fake Facebook accounts under her name. “I don’t like it when people take my pictures from my account. I’m helpless because there isn’t much I can do to make them stop,” she says.
Siyabonga is from Vuwani in Limpopo. She is the youngest of three siblings. Growing up she dreamed of being a mechanical engineer, but has since put her dreams on hold for a while. Her father was shocked to see how viral the video went, she says. Her mother and brothers, just like all of us, found it hilarious. Her brothers even made their own edits of the meme.
She tells me her family was supportive, which kept her composed. “I like how my family protected me,” she says. “They encouraged me and told me this shall pass and I must not be too stressed about what people are saying or doing.”
What has happened since “the pots”?
Siyabonga’s life has changed a lot since the episode aired. A few months after the clip went viral, she was approached by comedians to participate at a local comedy show. They did a rendition of the episode, asking her where the pots were.
Siya has become a celebrity of some sort. People ask to take pictures with her when they bump into her in public. “I like it when people ask to be my friend or just want to take a picture with me,” she says chuckling. She is no stranger to the attention anymore. She just laughs it off , and doesn’t find it annoying anymore like she used to when it started.
So, really, what happened to the pots?
I go on to ask Siya what exactly she was trying to say on the episode. “I made a mistake and everyone knew about it,” she says. “I really don’t even know what was happening at the time. When I watch the video repeatedly, I still ask myself what I was saying, and I can never really answer the question.”
Through all the nasty comments, Siya says she was touched by some of the uplifitng comments of people telling her to rise from the mistake. Siyabonga now lives in Pretoria with her brother and his wife. “I just had to stop stressing and I decided to carry on with my life,” she says.