Slice of Life: Learning from a place of failure

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

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Carl Collison
Carl Collison
Carl Collison is a freelance journalist who focuses primarily on covering queer-related issues across Africa

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