Zarinah Hassan is better known as Zari the boss lady, in the social and business circles. Zari is a true boss lady on social media where she commands some kind of cult following; she has 199,000 followers on Facebook, 4.3 million on Instagram and 3,400 on twitter.
To many ordinary people, Zari the slay queen has the world on her feet; she lives a classy life, goes to expensive bars, drives expensive cars, has many followers on social media and spends her days posting pictures showing off her incredible life.
But now, Zari says she is tired of that life and is ready for change. There is no doubt that the loss of her ex-husband Ivan Ssemwanga and the recent breakup of her relationship with Tanzanian singer Diamond Platinumz is the motivation for this change.
Before the fame
Zari broke onto the social scene as a wannabe singer, but while Ugandans noticed her stunning looks and expensive videos, the music failed to catch on.
“I tried doing music and released seven songs in 2011 and the last one I did last year. Although I love music, I do not see myself doing music ever again, I have a lot going on right now to even think of music,” Zari states. Never one to waste an opportunity, after realising there was no promise of a chance for a music career, Zari decided to turn her strong suite, partying, into a money making venture.
This led to the birth of the famous White Parties in 2011 where every socialite worth the name wanted to be seen. The parties eventually got sponsors such as Ciroc who wanted to be associated with the hip and trendy crowd.
In 2015, Zari held her first white party at Mlimani City Mall, Dar-es salaam, Tanzania where she was living with new boyfriend Diamond Platinumz.
Unfortunately, the Tanzanian white parties were short-lived following a ban from the authorities which was okay since Zari needed a break as she was due to deliver her youngest son Prince Nillan.
“After the birth of my son, I felt ready to get back to business and my instincts were rewarded because it sold out. We even had to turn away some guests because the club was full to its capacity,” Zari adds.
Part of that “business” was showing once and for all who the real queen bee was. Prior to the party, a rival group led by a Dubai based socialite Don Zella had come up with an idea of the ‘Gal Power’ party to which they invited Tanzanian model Hamisa Mobetto, who was Zari’s love rival at the time.
Zari reveals that she has come to the end of her party organising career. She came to this conclusion a few months ago when she found out that the dates she tentatively set aside for the party coincided with her deceased husband Ssemwanga’s last funeral rites.
“It would be disrespectful of the dead for me to go to a party on such a day. But even more I realised I had outgrown the whole thing. I am ready for something bigger and more meaningful,” Zari explains.
“I have a big family now, after ‘losing’ the fathers of my children and my mother, I am responsible for my children and all my siblings. The life I have been living cannot support these new responsibilities.
I need to step up in bigger and better ways. For instance I have realised that it is difficult to properly balance the partying lifestyle with running a successful business. I have to choose what is more important to me and focus on that,” Zari states sagely.
She, however, is quick to add that she refuses to live a life that is devoid of fun. “I think I will now start planning proper vacations where I can go with my family and unwind once in a while,” the boss lady adds.
Dogged by love
Zari has had a tough break in her relationships in spite of all her beauty and fame.
Following her break up with her longtime partner Ssemwanga, the father of her three sons, in 2013, Zari was linked to a number of Ugandan men although the relationships did not yield much.
In 2014, she hooked up with award winning Tanzanian singer Diamond Platinumz, a relationship that lasted longer than most thought it would.
Zari and Diamond Platinumz became the “it” couple in the music world and were inseparable. During their four-year relationship, Zari tagged along for shows and tours in and outside Tanzania.
In February this year, Zari announced on her Facebook and Instagram accounts that she had ended the relationship with Diamond Platinumz. The decision and announcement followed persistent rumours of Diamond Platinumz’s relationship with Mobetto. Mobetto first appeared in the singer’s life in his video for his popular hit Salome.
Apparently, the two started having an affair and later had a child. In the beginning, Zari completely denied the existence of any such relationship until the lovers’ video of them in bed leaked to social media. There was no going back after the video, so Zari broke up with Diamond Platinumz.
“I really do not want to get into the intimate details of my relationship with Diamond Platinumz because among other reasons, he is the father of my children, we have to at least try and remain civil. And not trashing each other in public is one way of maintaining this civility.
Otherwise we had a great relationship, it was fun and we had a great time. Had it not been for the lies, we would still be together. I hate being lied to and I hate being part of anybody’s lie,” Zari comments on her recent breakup.
Asked whether she has ever considered getting back with Diamond Platinumz for the sake of their children, Zari says that, it has never crossed her mind.
“I feel that no one should be stuck in an unhealthy relationship because of children. There are people who tell you to sacrifice everything for the sake of the children but that works for them, not me,” Zari states firmly.
Following the breakup, Zari relocated to South Africa where she currently runs Ssemwanga’s businesses that include education and skills training institutes.
“I oversee the running of Brooklyn City College that has 11 branches in South Africa, besides Brooklyn schools, Hartland Training Institute which has three branches, Menlyn College, Kings College which they bought from King Lawrence and Brooklyn Health Academy which has five branches,” she explains.
Planning a new life
It is almost seven months since Zari broke up with Diamond Platinumz and Zari seems to have changed the focus of her life. She says she is intent on pursuing things that are worthwhile and add value to hers and her children lives. Part of that change is scaling back on her social media engagements and taking more care when sharing her life with the world.
In the meantime, she says she is still adjusting to the life as a single mother which she says is a very big challenge but has to be done regardless.
“I am praying and thanking God for the courage, wisdom and strength he has given to me so far. I am doing very well but I know I can do even better and that is what I am aiming for,” Zari says.
What the future holds
One thing Zari is not about to give up is having someone to share her love and life with. In fact she is looking forward to getting a new man and settling in a relationship.
“The truth that people do not want to admit to others or even to themselves is no one wants to grow old alone. I am the kind of woman who thrives in a relationship. I do not want a life where there is no one to kiss good morning or someone to bring me a glass of water when I cannot get out of the bed,” Zari says candidly.
She, however, is taking time to heal from the previous heartbreak and get herself together. She is not lost to the fact that she is not one of those people who do relationships halfway.
“When I am ready I will jump right into it. But for now, I need to get some clarity on my life because I tend to lose myself when I enter a relationship,” confides Zari.
Relationship with Bryan White
With her recent dalliances with socialite Bryan White, tongues had started wagging about whether he could be the next one. It was recently reported that she had been recruited to do some work for the Bryan White Foundation in Arua.
The deal is said to have cost White $35,000 (Shs 13,399,121). When White flew to South Africa and then posted a photo with Zari, the rumour mills took that as a confirmation. There was even rumour that White had brought Zari a brand new V8 Land Cruiser.
When asked about the rumoured relationship, Zari sounded stunned and replied with a question of her own. “Dating Bryan White? There is nothing of the sort because he only invited me to work with him on the Arua charity project, and that was all,” Zari states. “I was there for the money, where it came from and what it might signify to others is not my concern. I was only there to execute my duty,” she says.
Zari says she has learnt to appreciate each day that she has on earth and the people in her life. She is famous for her go-getter attitude whether it is business or relationships.
She says passion is her biggest inspiration. “I am always passionate about the people and businesses I am involved with. I also rely on the power of prayer. I am focused and dedicated to whatever I am doing at the moment. I think this is why the universe tends to respond positively to my requests,” she reveals. She cautions people against social media. “Most of the things you see on social media do not tell the whole picture.
They are just a small slice of a bigger life story. Do not be deceived by the slay ‘cartoons’ on social media. Nothing comes on a silver platter and there is definitely nothing for free. And nothing is worth putting your bodies through hell for. Never forget that HIV is real,” she cautions .