iFani opens up about his break from music: “I’m taking time to raise my son”

Local rapper Ifani.
Local rapper Ifani.
Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu

Local rapper iFani, real name Mzayifani Boltina, sets the record straight about the status of his music career, fatherhood and the lessons he has learnt through taking a much-needed break from music to spend more time with his son.

Speaking to Move!, iFani says he hasn’t quit music, as many believe, but that he’s shifted his focus closer to home.

“I didn’t quit music; my priorities have shifted and I now have time to do things I didn’t have time for before. Things like raising my son and spending time with him and not having to constantly go somewhere. I didn’t have time to take care of myself and just relax because I was constantly busy and music was my priority,” the rapper tells us.

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He says he has much more time now than he had before. “I’ve had a gym membership for two full years – something I’ve never done before,” he jokes.

“I get to spend time with my son. I get to bath him, play games with him, watch cartoons and even help him with his homework. These are all luxuries I didn’t have when he was younger,” the 34-year-old says.

“I never had a father so my decision to raise my son is coming with a lot of lessons. I never knew what it was like having a male presence in my life. I am starting on a clean slate.

“I keep learning about myself in fatherhood. I’m learning that I’ve been too hard on myself and I see this when I’m being hard on him. I shock myself because I see that I’m too hard on myself too sometimes. I’m also learning that I’m very fond of babies,” he jokes.

The Iingoma Ezimnandi rapper also sets the record straight on the number of children he has. He explains that he has one child, his son who is seven years old.

“I say I have a one and a half children because the mother of my youngest child says the child is not mine, even though when I look at the child and I see the child’s pictures I can tell that the child is mine. My hands are tied. The child is only two years old. I can’t do much about it if the mother denies the child being mine.

“I want people to know that I am okay, I’m in a good space. I also want them to know I didn’t quit music and to know that everything will make sense soon.”

The muso says he has learnt a lot from music and has received so much love from the people who enjoy his music.

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“I have learnt that people can love you regardless of who you are. When I blew up it didn’t matter what I looked like, where I came from or what language I spoke, they loved me with my isiXhosa regardless. Even people in Venda knew who I was and they would welcome and scream for me – the respect I received was beautiful. It made me realise that if people from outside can love me this much why can’t I love myself?

“People were willing to love me in any way or form, but at the end I felt as though I was giving too much of myself to making music. It became the only thing I did. I had no friends because I couldn’t spend time with them, I couldn’t go home for Christmas and spend time with my family and spend time with my cousins. I was committed to music,” iFani shares.

“My family felt as though even though I made a name for the family, I never made time for them. I didn’t pitch to family functions, and at the time they didn’t know I never had time for myself either. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t have time to spend with my son. When I was making my first album I had fun, repeating the same process was the problem. So now I’m gaining back all the time I sacrificed and once that’s done, I will go back and do the music.”

The rapper tells us about his spiritual journey and learning more about his ancestors as well as African spirituality.

“My understanding of ancestors has grown. Now that I have spent time with people who know these things, I’m realising I can love other things outside of music. I can love knowing about ancestors and give the same opportunity to them as I did to science. I have gone through the Western side of study, so I wanted to go into the more African side and apply the same amount of curiosity.

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“I will share the story through music as I have with my life story in my first album. Everything will make sense,” he adds.