Joyous Celebration's Xolani Mdlalose on overcoming a health scare

By Drum Digital
12 August 2014

Joyous Celebration singer Xolani Mdlalose suffered a brain aneurysm that could have been deadly. His debut solo album is a celebration in itself.

By Khosi Biyela

Pictures: Luba Lesolle

Xolani Mdlalose’s energy draws you, this 32-year-old singer and qualified lawyer, a well-known member of the award-winning group Joyous Celebration and now a solo artist in his own right. His debut album, My Worship, was released late last year.

Xolani had been part of Joyous Celebration for two years when a former flatmate found him unconscious in the bathroom and called the ambulance. “I’d woken up and it was a day like any other. I checked my phone, meditated and then went to the bathroom. While I was brushing my teeth and washing my face, I was struck by this terrible headache. I went to the mirror but I don’t remember what happened after that. My roommate said he heard a noise, rushed in and found me lying on the floor,” Xolani says.

He has a scar which is a result of nine hours of surgery to repair a brain aneurysm. Xolani spent over a month in hospital, receiving treatment and undergoing several tests. Doctors later explained that he survived because, miraculously, there was no bleeding in his brain.

If a brain aneurysm ruptures, it causes bleeding in the brain which can lead to a stroke, brain damage and even death. This was something the Mdlalose family knew all too well. Four years earlier a brain aneurysm had claimed the life of Xolani’s younger sister, then in Grade 12.

When he heard his diagnosis, Xolani felt grim. “I was sure that I was going to die and everyone at home was certain that another dark cloud was upon us,” he continues,

“My sister passed away years ago after being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Unfortunately she never got treated and died. When doctors said I had the same thing, we thought we knew what lay ahead. But God had other plans, he had a purpose.

“Everyone at home thought I was going to die. I also thought it was over. What happened to my sister was very painful and having to go through it again, it was too much for my family. But God knew that it wasn’t time for me to die. He wanted me to be here to live again and give hope to people who are in a similar situation.”

BORN in Ulundi, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Xolani was raised by his mother and stepfather, but he also had a strong bond with his biological father and his stepmother.

“Everyone wanted me at home because I was a happy child,” he says. “There was never a time when I felt out of place. I felt blessed to have all four of my parents because they all played their role in making me who I am today.”

HAVING been that close to death gives one a different perspective on life and that’s what Xolani says his aneurysm has brought him. Nowadays when he goes to hospital it is to share his story with other patients.

“I give them hope and my music is all about that,” he says. His new 15-track solo album is Xolani’s own joyous celebration, and his way of expressing his gratitude for being given a second chance.

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