Re­cov­ered ad­dict ‘Bouga Luv’ is clean­ing up SA

To start, he is lead­ing or­di­nary com­mu­nity mem­bers to rid Gaut­eng town­ships of drug abuse

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

(For a long time in my life I have wanted to suc­ceed/And with­out the abuse of drugs, I’m on the road to suc­cess.)

These pow­er­ful lyrics are in the award-win­ning song Zonke (Ev­ery­thing), re­leased al­most 14 years ago by the iconic kwaito artist Ka­belo “Bouga Luv” Ma­bal­ane.

Ma­bal­ane re­leased Zonke shortly af­ter he had re­turned from a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre. He had checked him­self in fol­low­ing years of a much-pub­li­cised life of de­bauch­ery filled with drug and al­co­hol abuse and promis­cu­ity.

To­day, Ma­bal­ane leads the Anti-Sub­stance Abuse So­cial Move­ment, a cam­paign of or­di­nary com­mu­nity mem­bers who are tak­ing it upon them­selves to rid Gaut­eng town­ships of drug and other sub­stance abuse.

He ex­plained how dif­fi­cult but im­por­tant it was to de­tail his strug­gles with sub­stance abuse in his songs be­cause he re­alised that for the first time in his life, he had been given a “get-out-of-jail-free card”.

“You have to get down and do the work at re­hab and start to deal with your­self and all the demons in­side, which is hard work.

“But the get-out-of-jail-free card and what came with it far out­weighed the dif­fi­cul­ties of openly ad­mit­ting to the pub­lic how I strug­gled with drugs through my songs,” Ma­bal­ane said.

“This was be­cause I could see for the first time that this get-out-of-jail-free card was open­ing up my life to so many pos­si­bil­i­ties that wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble if I had car­ried on liv­ing the life I was liv­ing.”

Through his anti-sub­stance abuse move­ment, Ma­bal­ane works in­ten­sively with town­ship schools, lo­cal drug ac­tion com­mu­ni­ties (L-DACs) and other com­mu­nity groups to try to play his part in root­ing out drug and sub­stance abuse, es­pe­cially among the youth.

He helps to fa­cil­i­tate re­hab cen­tres for young peo­ple who want to wean them­selves off the life of sub­stance abuse, and equally im­por­tantly, fol­lows up with the re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts on their rein­te­gra­tion into so­ci­ety.

Bouga Luv ex­plained that his in­volve­ment in help­ing oth­ers kick their bad habits was also help­ful to him as a re­cov­er­ing ad­dict, as it was a con­stant re­minder of where he came from – and where he re­fuses to go back to.

“I be­lieve that it is im­por­tant for me to carry out this anti-drugs cam­paign be­cause I can only keep that which I have – my so­bri­ety – by giv­ing it away. So ser­vice is very im­por­tant to me,” he en­thused.

“Even while I am serv­ing the com­mu­nity and help­ing other peo­ple who are in ac­tive ad­dic­tion, I am still be­ing held ac­count­able.

“This is be­cause peo­ple will look at me and say, ‘here is Kabza (his other nick­name) help­ing me to walk this road. He is a bea­con of hope to us that re­cov­ery is pos­si­ble.’

“That in turn makes me ac­count­able to say, ‘I can’t now drop the ball be­cause I know that if I re­lapse, I will be tak­ing down thou­sands of peo­ple with me’. So that keeps me clean be­cause my so­bri­ety is con­nected to a big­ger pur­pose.”

Ma­bal­ane said he had to “box smart” in or­der to fund his good­will projects, by align­ing him­self with like-minded groups such as L-DACs and other so­cial part­ners to con­tinue his fight against drugs.

Ear­lier this month, he com­pleted his 10th Com­rades Marathon with the as­sis­tance of SABC Foun­da­tion and Sport – un­der the ban­ner “SABC Sport Against Drugs for So­cial Move­ment” – to cel­e­brate 15 years of be­ing clean from drugs.

“I have been on this road of help­ing peo­ple for a long time now and I haven’t earned a sin­gle red cent from my work be­cause I’m not do­ing it for the money.

“I de­rive plea­sure from the phone calls I get from peo­ple who I have helped, telling me how well they’re do­ing in their re­cov­ery,” he en­thused.

“Other peo­ple call me to say they heard me some­where and would love for me to help them. I would ei­ther re­fer them to some­where cred­i­ble or in­vite them over for a talk.

“If we can help just one per­son achieve what I have achieved from a so­bri­ety per­spec­tive, then all is well. Be­cause some­times you can get over­whelmed by the moun­tain of work that needs to be done – but I take it one per­son at a time.”

Born in De­cem­ber 1976, Bouga Luv is a tes­ta­ment to the virtues for which the Class of ’76 were pre­pared to pay the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

Asked what plans he had for the future of his anti-drugs move­ment, Ma­bal­ane said: “We have pre­dom­i­nately been op­er­at­ing around Gaut­eng. There are ob­vi­ously calls from around the coun­try for our as­sis­tance.

“We are go­ing to try as much as pos­si­ble to go around the coun­try and as­sist other young peo­ple, but Soweto alone can keep us busy for the next 10 to 20 years.” @khayakoko88

BRING­ING LIGHT: Ka­belo Ma­bal­ane, seen here with mu­si­cian Danny K, is spear­head­ing an anti-drug cam­paign.

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