Freshlyground star Zolani Mahola is sharing a painful story about her past for the first time
The singer has revealed that she was sexually abused when she was a child – a secret she kept from her father and siblings. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Zolani revealed that she only told them about her ordeal at a memorial service for her mother in the Eastern Cape two weeks ago. Her mother died when she was just six years old.
Zolani said that the abuse started when she was eight and continued for several years. Her abuser was an extended family member. The 38-year-old told the publication that it took her 30 years to open up about the abuse because she didn’t feel that she could talk about it. While she managed to stop the abuse when she was 11, the internal pain of what happened to her lingered on for years.
Her breaking point came in 2010, the year that Freshlyground recorded the hit FIFA World Cup song, Waka Waka, with Colombian singer Shakira. Zolani used alcohol to numb the pain of what happened to her as a child. Until the World Cup, she managed to hide her internal pain, but it started to show as a result of her drinking.
A few years later she was finally able to admit that she had a problem and started to take steps to help her heal, including therapy. The healing process is ongoing, but Zolani, who is now a mom of two, is now in a better space. She revealed in August that she will be taking a break from Freshlyground to pursue solo projects
“After 17 years with @FRESHLYGROUNDsa, I am launching my solo music career, and starting a new career as a public speaker. I am Zolani Mahola. I am the one who sings.
Zolani is doing more of what she loves and will be using her music to share her personal story with her fans. A synopsis of her one-woman show, The One Who Sings, at the Baxter Theatre reads: “The One Who Sings (from the Xhosa “Lo Uculayo”)… reveals Zolani’s raw, honest vulnerability and readiness to share herself, her music and her own personal journey alongside the greater South African story as never seen before.
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