SHE couldn’t believe it was all over. She thought she and AKA were still very much an item – but the way he treated her one fateful weekend left her in no doubt that things had changed. That something, Nicole Nyaba says, is his relationship with DJ Zinhle, his ex and baby mama.
They’re back together, the 26-year-old model, singer and video vixen claims. What’s more, Nicole believes they were already rekindling their romance when she and the rapper were still supposedly an item but she was no side chick, Nicole insists, speaking exclusively to DRUM as rumours of the AKA/Zinhle/Nicole love triangle swirl.
She and the musician were living together as a couple and he made her feel like the most important woman in the world – until everything went south at the Vodacom Durban July.
“Before the weekend he was giving me ideas on how to do my hair and he even paid for my dress,” she says, referring to the jaw droppingly immodest number she wore to the glamorous event.
She was looking forward to the weekend. AKA had rented a house in Umhlanga for them and friends and they were all going to go to the races together. Nicole arrived in the city on Friday and AKA (30) was to fly in the next day “but he didn’t tell me when he landed – he just disappeared on me”, she says.
She was confused by his behaviour when he eventually arrived at the rented house. “I’d been with him the day before but all of a sudden he was acting weird. We argued and he left me and I had to take an Uber to the event.”
Nicole only got to Greyville Racecourse at about 10pm and, while both of them had been invited to the Mabala Noise marquee, they didn’t sit at the same table. “I was very emotional. I was mad. I felt he was lying about a lot of things. I just chilled with my friends.”
Things went from bad to worse when she took to Instagram later that night, posting, “I don’t like you, I don’t like any of you”. AKA then unfollowed her.
“I didn’t understand why he unfollowed me. People started calling me ‘stupid’, ‘whore’ and all sort of names, accusing me of pursuing him,” she adds, her voice trembling.
She confronted AKA about why he had unfollowed her. “He told me, ‘Nicole, I don’t want to be with you when you are like this. Please calm down. If you need something, tell me.’
“We fought and I cried,” Nicole says. “AKA ended up saying he was done. I still don’t understand where it all went wrong.”
TONGUES first began wagging about AKA and Nicole when she posted an Insta pic of herself posing in front of a BMW i8, which is identical to the car AKA drives. That was in September last year. The year before, AKA, whose real name is Kiernan Forbes, dropped the track One Time in which he mentioned Nicole: “Put you on a first class seat, Nicole Nyaba.”
The gorgeous model was also featured in the track’s music video. It was all very flattering, she says, but she’s adamant she only started dating the hip-hop superstar in April this year, months after he had broken up with Bonang Matheba in December last year.
She denies she was the cause of AKA and Bonang’s split. “They didn’t break up because of me,” she says. “I kept my distance precisely because I knew there were rumours about me.”
Nicole says AKA called her in January asking “me to chill with him but it didn’t happen”, she says. Soon afterwards he called again when Nicole was on holiday in Cape Town with friends.
“He invited us for dinner but it wasn’t a date or a romantic dinner. He said he wanted to unwind because he was going through a lot but everyone said, ‘No, we’re not going to Kiernan’, so it didn’t happen. We chilled with my mentor Gemini (Major) and Cassper (Nyovest).”
Then Nicole’s mom, who had been ill for some time, died in January “and AKA was there for me”.
“Kiernan was part of a group of friends who were very sweet to me and comforting. He was a gentleman. He kept checking up on me,” she says. In April he called and asked her to go with him to South African Fashion Week – and the two of them were seen together in public for the first time.
“That was our first date. After that I saw him more often,” she says, adding they would go out either on their own or with friends or chill at his Bryanston house where Nicole, a keen cook, would whip up meals.
Soon they were in love and living together in his home, she says. “Kiernan is a nice guy, he is sweet. He opens doors for you, asks if you’re hungry and tells you how beautiful you are when you wake up in the morning. He was an amazing boyfriend. He was constantly making me fall in love with him.”
They had plenty in common too, Nicole says, especially their love of music.
“He said he’d never had so much fun in a relationship as he had with me. We would wake up in the middle of the night and play R&B. Everything was effortless. We never fought, or if we did it wasn’t serious. There was nothing wrong so the way things ended was confusing for me.”
As soon as she returned to Joburg after the Durban July Nicole headed for AKA’s house, packed her bags and moved out. In retrospect, she realises things were going wrong in the run-up to the weekend. “He would go MIA [missing in action] and his friends would call me asking where he was.”
He sent her a message apologising for the Durban weekend but she didn’t believe it was sincere. “He only said that so if things don’t work out with Zinhle he can come back to me,” she says. “I asked him if he was with Zinhle and he admitted it.” Nicole suspects Zinhle “realised she wanted him back after she saw he was with me”, she says, but Nicole says she’s ready to move on. She’ll be releasing her debut single, Levels, under the stage name Coco and all this will be behind her.
Approached for comment, AKA denies he’s ever been in a relationship with Nicole. “I don’t understand why this girl keeps going on and on about this,” he says.
When we ask if he is indeed back with Zinhle, he lost it. “Listen here, did you not call me for a comment? Did I not give you a comment? I am also a person. This is not a press conference. Stop bombarding me with questions.” DJ Zinhle’s phone rang unanswered and she didn't respond to questions DRUM sent to her, but she has laughed off rumours she is back with AKA. “There really is nothing there,” she told City Press. The rapper is a “caring and loving” father to their three- year- old daughter, Kairo, and she has also asked him to get more involved in her career. “I want to grow as a DJ and start a band and I’ve asked Kiernan to help me as a music producer.”