Slice of Life: Learning from a place of failure

'And as much as nobody wants to be in that place of failure, I’ve actually come to learn a lot from my failures and my mistakes.' (Photo: Oupa Nkosi)

'And as much as nobody wants to be in that place of failure, I’ve actually come to learn a lot from my failures and my mistakes.' (Photo: Oupa Nkosi)

I had a falling-out with my previous record company, so for about four or five years I was kind of absent from the music industry.

I really took it hard, you know. I felt like I had hit rock bottom.

Musicians are like children in a way. Like, when you’re not creating or selling, you start to feel like you’re not good enough.

So I had a lot of years of self-doubt.
It made me spiral out of control a bit. I felt hopeless and lost.

One of the songs on the new album is called Wena. It’s like a prayer. It’s about pinning your hopes on someone. In English, the lyrics basically go something like: Now that I have given of myself and left the darkness/ Because the deeds of my own hands have once turned on me/ I want you to know that you are everything to me/ You are my power/ Stay near me/ And touch my soul. The “deeds of my own hands” refers to me losing control a bit. I was very self-destructive. It’s quite weird because I think that, no matter who you are, you always know who you could be. But a lot of us, especially black children, suffer from that thing of finding our highest potential.

A lot of us don’t grow up with that self-confidence, that self-belief and self-assurance. I definitely struggled with it. You know, that thing of thinking that what I do is important.

Self-value has been a difficult thing for me. But I’m definitely in a better space now. I now kind of understand that life is never a utopia. You’re always changing and fixing, and growing and learning. And failing.

And as much as nobody wants to be in that place of failure, I’ve actually come to learn a lot from my failures and my mistakes. — Bongeziwe Mabandla, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian

Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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