TikTok and Twitter have been burning for the last week or so with absolute drama, remarks, and FIRE because of South African Eastern Cape-based chef and content creator Onezwa Mbola and US-based chef, model and content creator Nara Smith. Smith is a Lesotho-German fashion model who was born in Bloemfontein.

Both chefs have amassed sizable fan bases thanks to their distinct approaches to making meals from scratch, but Mbola is especially well-known for her foraging and direct procurement of ingredients.

Smith takes a similar tack, mimicking Mbola’s storytelling technique and soft-spoken rhythm in a startling way.

I first encountered Mbola’s content on Twitter, where I started following her before I followed her on TikTok. I would see videos of her and her son going into their backyards to collect vegetables and sometimes videos of herself going to the nearest sea to collect fish and other sea animals.

The originality of her content and her documenting style were refreshing to watch. Smith, on the other hand, I had not known about until she gained popularity amongst people on TikTok, and her videos would turn up on my For You page with her famous “Today, I was craving” opener.

Mbola accused Smith of stealing her ideas after making many dishes oddly identical to Mbola’s. This is where it all began – Mbola made her version of a boba tea, which Smith also made a day later. And prior to that, Mbola made cream cheese, and in less than 48 hours, Smith made her own version of cream cheese – Guys, surely, it can’t be a coincidence?

Carla (25); “I noticed an undeniable trend with her content once people started pointing it out. And it’s very lazy that Onezwa, amongst the other creators, is not credited when she seemingly makes this content.”

Mbola released a video last week on her Instagram reels, without mentioning Smith, describing how she is devastated by Smith’s theft of her ideas for material and publishing them as his own.

In her video, Mbola said, “I’m literally making recipes so that people can recreate them. That’s fine. But the issue is not recreating recipes; it’s literally duplicating my content, my content style, and then profiting from it without crediting me.”

Shaun (22); “I’m disappointed that it had to get to that point. It is clear exploitation.”

Mbola has faced criticism for advocating for herself, and among the criticisms levelled against her claim that she is very delusional. Fans believe that Smith’s popularity and Mbola’s lack thereof are due to their physical appearance. And whilst that is an entirely different conversation, the differences in how they look heavily influence people’s stance within this drama.

Sandra (24): “Many things come into play within this debate. Is it because Onezwa is thicker and more natural, people feel they need to invalidate her feelings over Nara’s? Important questions need to be asked here”.

Smith is a professional of mixed race. She has established an aesthetic when preparing cuisine by dressing in opulent gowns and jewels. Mbola, on the other hand, is a South African farmer with darker skin who takes good care of her livestock and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty.

Why is Smith the only one who appears on our For You pages when the two women produce identical content despite leading quite different lives? Mbola’s fan base has expanded, and her supporters still advocate and support her despite the controversy.

Smith’s claim that she had “never seen her [Mbola’s] videos” amazes me the most, even though fans had noticed her response to one of Mbola’s TikToks back in February. This indicates that Smith is very much aware of Mbola.

Nara babe, no.

Amid this social media storm, the clash between Mbola and Smith underscores more significant questions about creativity, authenticity, and recognition in the digital age.

Who do you think serves up the originality: Onezwa Mbola or Nara Smith? Join the debate!