Gospel singer Bukiwe Twani opens up about her mental health journey

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Bukiwe Twani. (Photo: Move!)
Bukiwe Twani. (Photo: Move!)

Gospel singer Bukiwe Twani (43) is known for her magnetic deep voice. But also for her infectious energy and as the life of any party. So it’s no wonder that news of the depression she’s suffered with since she was a teenager has come as a shock to her many music followers.

The singer says she decided to be open about her mental health journey hoping it will help others battling depression. She adds that speaking about it has also been healing for her.

A DARK TIME

One of the lowest points in her life was in 2010. She decided to pursue a solo career and left the Joyous Celebration Gospel Group. “There was total silence. No gigs and that just killed me inside,” she says. “I felt like I was stuck with a gift that God had given me yet it didn’t do anything for me.”

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But her depression, accompanied by suicidal thoughts, began many years earlier when she finished matric in New Crossroads, Cape Town. “There was no money at home to further my studies. This made me feel so left out, rejected and like a lesser human being. All I wanted was to be noticed, loved and accepted,” Bukiwe says.

She kept her emotions inside as she grew older. “I tried to commit suicide twice when I was still living at home. I tried to overdose on pills. To me it looked easy and fast but it didn’t work immediately, it took a while for the effects to kick in,” she recalls. This gave her family time to step in and get her help. The second time she tried to commit suicide, her sister intervened.

“No one could understand me. I tried speaking about it. This made me feel like I didn’t have a voice and that death was the only way out,” Bukiwe says.

SETTING AN EXAMPLE

“Going to church eventually helped me,” she says. “Pastor Joel Motlafi from Rise Up Bible Church has a wisdom on life that kept me going. I realised I want my life to be a testimony that helps the next person who feels they have reached a dead end. I want them to know that God hasn’t forgotten them.”

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She says because she knows how it feels to have so little, her biggest purpose in life, apart from nurturing her music, is to encourage those who come from disadvantaged homes. She wants to give them hope. There’s so much to live for, she realises.

She is a single mother to 15-year-old son Ayabulela. “He means everything to me. I get on stage knowing my music will pay for his school fees. If it wasn’t for him, I would be dead,” she adds.

SINGING A NEW SONG

Bukiwe says she feels like her time has come to shine. “The biggest lesson I learnt about the industry is that not everyone has good intentions for you,” she adds. However, she has remained resilient. Bukiwe currently has an album out titled A Hannah’s Testimony.

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“Hannah was always being reminded that she was the first wife who was barren. She continued to believe in God until God answered. For eight years I’ve been barren in the music industry and after years of prayer and crying to God he finally answered my prayer.”

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