Zolani Mahola Interview

The lead singer of SA Afro-fusion band Freshlyground chats about musicals, podcasts, and shoe shopping

I can’t wait to… take part in my first on-stage musical. I studied theatre at UCT, and landing a role in Calling Me Home means I get to marry my two loves: theatre and music. The production is about Grace (played by Lynelle Kenned) who escapes her war-town country and arrives in a foreign city. I play her friend Lindiwe, who tries to leave behind the abuse and pain she’s experienced. I’m nervous, but I relish pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

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I’ve always… jumped at the opportunity to entertain a crowd, whether it was at the school play or the National Eisteddfod. I even remember my grandmother making my costumes for all my preschool plays, but somehow she always managed to sew together the wrong thing.

Success is… a weird and wonderful thing. While putting together our second studio album Nomvula, we nearly left off [hit track] Doo Be Doo because, as a band, we didn’t think it sounded like us – and now it’s the song people associate with us.

I’m lucky to… have my husband Nicholas in my life. He is hands-on when it comes to raising our boys, which gives me the chance to also have a very busy life outside of being a mom. It’s wonderful to see men getting actively involved and contributing to equal parenting.

The best thing about being a mom is… seeing my boys Zazi and Zen grow and learn. I have loved watching them transform from tiny beings growing inside of me to confident young boys interacting with the world.

If I could give advice to my younger self… I’d love to say, ‘You’re not the only person experiencing crippling self-doubt. There are more people dealing with it on a daily basis than you might think.’

It’s so important for me to… love the person I see in the mirror. For a long time, the image I had of myself didn’t match up with the reflection I saw. I felt too heavy so I drastically changed my diet with a low-kilojoule eating plan – it’s not something that I’d recommend as it can create an unhealthy obsession with food. Now that I’ve lost all that weight, I try to eat sensibly and I go to the gym a couple of times a week.

People don’t know that… shopping for shoes is impossible for me because I have very small feet: I wear a size one-and-a-half shoe!

Things I can’t live without Feature Leigh Hermon Photography Simon Attwell; Supplied; Fotolia Podcasts… I listen to all kinds of topics, but I’m addicted to Dear Sugar, an ‘agony aunt’ podcast. Chilli… I can’t get enough. I put it on everything – even in smoothies! My children… I just can’t imagine a world without either of them.

Zolani Mahola Interview

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