Remember when the late Queen of Pop Brenda Fassie belted the words "my baby Bongani” in a 1986 classic she sang with The Big Dudes? She was singing about her beloved son, Bongani Fassie.
Last week, Bongani opened his doors to local audiences in his own reality show Finding Bongani Fassie, a show punted in a 30-second trailer that echoed the haunting words of entertainment commentator Kuli Roberts: "We should all be grateful that he is where he is now and that he hasn't killed himself".
Speaking to tagged!, the 35-year-old Fassie revealed how losing his mother has impacted his life, horrific tales of suicide attempts and how being a father of three has helped him regain his confidence in life.
This interview was conducted before the show launched.
Gabi Mbele: Welcome back to the game, the last audiences/ your fans heard from you was when you launched a diss track... How have you been, and what have you been up to?
Bongani Fassie: First of all, I want to set the record straight – that was never a diss track. When people do music, it's usually about references to their life. I speak the truth through my songs – there was no point in me pretending everything is hunky dory like peaches and cream. I was speaking my truth, whether you like it or not.
To answer your question, I have come a long way to be where I am today. I am ecstatic and on top of the world again. I am closer to God and to my family. When I was going through my trials and tribulations and ups and downs with my mother's estate [and] my career, I needed to first vent, which is why I went to rehab in order to sort myself out before dealing with the media. My life comes first before showbiz.
GM: With the reality show, why have you decided to let us into your life this time? Why now?
Now is the perfect time because I believe everything works perfectly with God's timing. I decided to let people into my life so that they experience a true life depiction of Bongani Fassie. They have never experienced the real me but only of what they heard of me. This will give people more depth into who I am.
GM: Headlines are amok this week ahead of the reality show citing "drugs and suicide attempts". Can you share a little bit about this, the narrative of the show and what you want the viewers to learn from it?
BF: I tried to take my life because of the pressures of the world. I attempted suicide three times. Looking back, I am glad that they failed. Back then my self-esteem had taken a knock and I was being destroyed by the news in the tabloids about my mom, Brenda, dying from drugs, which is not true. For a good eight to nine years, I couldn't cope and that is why on consecutive occasions, I wanted to take my life.
My colleagues, friends abandoned me when I needed them the most. It really took a toll on me. I was not feeling life myself and hence I started using and abusing.
I thought if I am to move forward, then I need to re-evaluate and change my life. Having children (aged 13, 8 and 4 years) and the mother of my children, Buhle, who is my confidante, has given me a new lease on life.
GM: It's been 17 years since your mom's passing – how are you coping, and have previous reports of inheritance been resolved?
BF: I can't complain. I feel that I am stronger, wiser, tougher and blessed with wisdom and I am stable and confident. I am not going to say too much about my inheritance except that there is more clarity in terms of what needs to be resolved. When things are under investigation, we are told not to reveal too much.
GM: In the promo of the show we see you are working with your relatives – how has this been? What can we expect to see from this?
BF: To see what happens with my relatives, I would strongly suggest that you tune into the show. I don't want to reveal much but you can expect a lot of twists and turns.
GM: What is on the cards for Bongani Fassie going forward? Can we expect you back in the music business, producing and doing what you are great at?
BF: Bongani 2.0 is a father, someone who has regained his confidence, a king amongst kings. I’m stable and in control of my life. When it comes to music, I never really left, I just took a break but I never stopped making music behind the scenes. I can assure you, though, that my creativity has beefed up. I have matured as a person and musician.
- Finding Bongani is on Moja LOVE (DStv Channel 157), Saturdays at 8.30pm. The first episode is available to watch on DStv Catch Up.