The acclaimed soul singer gets candid about searching and being an advocate for love.
By:Thanduxolo “Thandz” Buti
All Photos by: Mosai Maru Hloni
Since releasing his debut album “Umlilo” in 2012, Bongeziwe Mabandla has become a prominent face at international festivals. He has toured Japan, Europe, Canada, USA and recently Australia. Among his highlights are sharing the stage with Grammy award-winner,Joss Stone, who swiftly became a fan, and being nominated for two South African Music Awards (SAMA).
For someone who had an uncertain launch into the music industry, the Eastern Cape born star seems to have found his place.
“I feel like I have accomplished a lot of things as a South African musician. I am making music, I am being heard and I have an audience, and that has always been the dream,” he says with a grin.
With his highly anticipated second album due out this year, Bongeziwe seems content with who he is. He attributes his undeniable glow to music and allowing it to take him to the belly of his true being.
“I find myself taking time out a lot lately, just to be alone or to be with my family. That has gone a long way in nurturing the love that sustains me daily. It helps me love myself not because of success or sales but because I am human.”
Classified as a soul musician, Bongeziwe oddly strays from the obvious romantically themed lyrics and opts for real life issues instead. However, he lets slip that he was in love when he created his album and a portion of that filtered into the music.
“Mangaliso”, the first single off the upcoming album best describes his love journey.
“It’s about falling in love and finding someone who makes you feel alive, and when I was in love that was the only time when even music didn’t matter,” he says.
“What I love about music is that it’s opened me up to see myself in different ways that I never thought I could be before.”
The album also covers other love themes like loneliness, isolation, self –love and love for God.
“I love that it looks at love holistically and doesn’t just focus on romance. You know being alone is also love and it takes a lot of love to be alone,” he says laughing.
When the relationship ended, Bongeziwe was reluctant to use his music as a channel to purge his emotions. He jokes that he didn’t want to create another Adele heartbreak inspired record.
“I was very resentful and I was afraid of making a bitter album,” he explains.
Though burnt by love, Bongeziwe seems to be settled in his own skin.
“What I love about music is that it’s opened me up to see myself in different ways that I never thought I was before. It’s almost like you become some sort of light and people get to see and recognise that light in you. Despite the loneliness, it has forced me to accept and love myself gradually. I am aspiring to get to that place of complete self-love but it’s a journey.”
A self-proclaimed advocate of love, Bongeziwe enjoys conversing about love and is willing to cover all facets of the subject. He appears to be living the word and he blames it all on his mother.
“I believe love can hurt you and heal you. Expressing your emotions can be liberating but it’s also dangerous.
“My love for love comes from my mother because she embodied the essence of it while I was growing up. She was very expressive and not afraid of showing affection to us. I now realise that I had a good example of what real love feels and looks like,” he adds.
Now a single, he is intent on finding love but he is not willing to compromise. He boldly states that even though he is yearning for the experience, he is aware that love can be a double edged sword.
“I believe love can hurt you and heal you. Expressing your emotions can be liberating but it’s also dangerous. But it’s something that sustains us even if it brings out emotions like anger, sadness, loneliness and many more. It fascinates me because you can’t truly define it.”
“It’s a difficult concept to grasp but when you love yourself you become more powerful in whatever you do. And you make different choices than the ones you would have if you were coming from a more insecure place. In the end we all have to look ourselves in the mirror and love the person looking back at us.”