Insta Nation in Rosebank in Johannesburg roars as the crowd is excited to see Zola 7 perform again. They sing his songs word for word. He was a surprise act at the launch of a new Mobicel cellphone. He took the crowd back to his glory days when he was healthy, happy and making hits. He might be a little frail, but the talent is still the same. Bonginkosi "Zola' Dlamini tells ZiMoja that he has returned as though he never left. Zola is passionate about education and believes every child deserves a chance at it. "Every child deserves a good, free education.' A clearly elated Zola says, It's been tough, but I am back. I am working on a new album which I hope to will be released on 24 April, but nothing is yet finalised. I have a lot of new music and it's only a matter of time.'
Things haven't always been easy for the Mdlwembe singer. When he fell ill a few years ago, social media trolls declared him dead. "I coulds ay that I rose from the dead. I almost didn't make it. I almost kicked th bucket. But the medication is treating me well. I'm trying to eat right. I take200 mg of medication in the morning and in the evening, so it's heavy. According to the doctors, I will be doing this for the rest of my life,' he says. Zola feels like he conquered death. "I was in a coma for five weeks due to epilepsy. I was not on any ventilators or anything, I was breathing by myself. I also learned that epilepsy could hide in your body for a while and then show itself at a later stage, I think this was the case with me.' But he is learning to manage it. Zola says there are rare illnesses that South Africans are not talking about or getting enough education on. "That is something I would like to explore in the future in either a show or If there is an organisation that is interested in talking about rare illnesses, I'd gladly be part of it,' Zola says he is looking and feeling good. "I'm not going back to weighing 42 kg. I gained a bit of weight; I like this body now.'
MAKING HIS MONEY COUNT
Zola says that when he rose from the hospital bed, the COVID-19 pandemic was at an all-time high. "I was isolated from the world and my family. They couldn't come to see me at the hospital and everyone was wearing masks. It was a strange time to be ill,' he says. "I had to adjust, I had people explaining to me what exactly is Corona.' Zola says gigs have been difficult to secure ever since but he is getting there. "People lost homes and cars. I still have a home. I don't wear my money on my sleeves. I am not flashy. My kids had to change schools, and money dried up more, but I live a simple life. Of course, I have debt, I am trying to clear it up. As an artist, I learned a long time ago that we go through phases, one day you are good and the next might be bad, but you don't stop fighting.'