The rise - and rise of Coconut Kelz

Comedic video blogger Lesego Tlhabi takes her brand of satire from social media to the small screen. /Alaister Russell
Comedic video blogger Lesego Tlhabi takes her brand of satire from social media to the small screen. /Alaister Russell

Meet Coconut Kelz, a young white woman trapped in a black woman's body.

She is a living, breathing parody created by Lesego Tlhabi, who is not afraid to flaunt her privilege and opinion on who is fit to become SA's next president.

Tlhabi's rise to fame can be accredited to social media, where she launched a furious feat of selfie-style videos as the fervent Coconut Kelz.

Unlike many social media stars, the satirical star is paving the way for tongue-in-cheek humour aimed at the state of politics in the country.

Following her comedic debut, The Coconut Show at Melville Comedy Club, Tlhabi is now making waves on the small screen with shorts on BET Africa aptly titled Coconut Kelz: The Election Special.

"I didn't do the character for any kind of career in the comedy scene; I just did it for my Facebook friends. So, it's awesome to see how it's grown and is my main career now, which I never expected," said Tlhabi.

Tlhabi said that the uniqueness and relatable banter of Coconut Kelz has played a part in her meteoric rise since conception two years ago on Facebook.

The BET special will help grow this reach thanks to the everyday people who directly interact with Tlhabi's character in contrast with their opinions on the elections and politics in the country.

"I think we are all confused by [this week's] elections so it's nice to have a laugh about some of the things that are happening in politics," she said.

The BET special also features a number of familiar faces such as journalist and author, Redi Tlhabi, who is her stepmother. Redi is married to Thlabi's father, medical doctor Brian Tlhabi. Radio presenter Smash Afrika will also make an appearance on the special.

Tlhabi has also been criticised for her satire which she has been labelled as a mockery of the lives of black people.

While the confusion with her satire has caused many to make incorrect assumptions about her intentions, Tlhabi has noticed more viewers are taking the time to explain her style of comedy.

Tlhabi also said that the likes of Evita Bezuidenhout have helped bring satire into the mainstream.

"Kelz is going to be everywhere, so everyone who hates her needs to turn off their TVs because I am going to be everywhere," said Tlhabi.

Along with a weekly feature on e.tv's morning show, Tlhabi will be penning a novel in character. While she cannot divulge its title, she said her debut novel will be
released in September this year. Tlhabi's BET specials air weekdays on BET Africa channel 129 at 10pm.

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