Local artist, GBV victim urges others to not ignore ‘red flags’ and speak out

END WOMEN ABUSE: Singer and songwriter Akhona ‘Empress’ Ntantiso encouraged victims of gender-based violence to speak out and will soon release a song of her own experience as a survivor Picture: SUPPLIED

A problem shared is a problem halved.” These were words shared by local singer and gender-based violence (GBV) survivor, Akhona Ntantiso, who has revealed her truth in a song soon to be released, entitled ‘Buyisa’.

The 31-year-old, whose stage name is Empress, is a singer and songwriter from Ezibeleni who, like countless other women, have suffered heinous acts of abuse in the hands of their partners.

In 2011, Ntantiso moved to Johannesburg where she juggled her corporate career and musical aspirations, the same year she met her then eight-year long partner and father of her children. “Things turned sour when we moved in together. He made me doubt myself and made me feel that I was a nobody. For some reason I always wanted to do right by him. I was miserable. The relationship was extremely toxic. At some point he got physical and I ended up having a miscarriage.”

After having him arrested, Ntantiso ended the relationship and decided to drop the charges against her partner and returned home with her three children.

There are individuals who are stuck in toxic relationships and marriages, who are scared to come out. What I know is that it is not easy to just pack up and leave. It takes time for people to see what others see. People need to look at things as the third person in a relationship and if you come out with a number of negative pointers then something is not right. Never ignore red flags. Those are extremely important.”

She said she decided to write her song ‘Buyisa’ in 2019. It will be available on digital platforms by the end of the month. “The song talks about choosing myself and letting him go. I had this vision about us, but he broke me. The song is about love, but choosing myself at the end of the day. I thank God I came out alive because others do not make it.”

With the soaring rate of GBV cases in the country Ntantiso, like many others, feels these crimes are a national crisis and need to be dealt with and eradicated. Her plan is to reach out to locals, including schools, to conduct workshops that will allow people to speak out.

I would love to have workshops that will focus on GBV because it is a pandemic. I would have been part of the statistics of women who have been killed by their partners and I thank God I survived. It is high time that women stand up and expose men as the perpetrators of these crimes.”

The talented mother of four said she caught the musical bug at a young age and participated in different forms of the arts through Ukhanyo Youth Organisation. Her passion for music led her to give up her career in the corporate world to pursue what she describes as her dream.

Ntantiso’s social media handles: Facebook :Thee Empress; Instagram: @empress_vocalist; Twitter: empressvocal; YouTube: Akhona Ntantiso

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