MASERU — Afro-pop star Stlofa has come clean about a life and career nearly destroyed by drug and alcohol abuse.
The 32-year old former Lefate singer, born Molibeli Mokake, says he was a slave to the bottle and marijuana for the past 15 years.
A talented artist, Stlofa has enjoyed both fame and notoriety in almost equal measure since he teamed up with Lethapa Tikiso to form the two-man band Lefate.
When the two split last year, Tikiso, also known as Damario, said he could no longer put up with his friend’s “notoriety” which he blamed on alcohol abuse.
Stlofa fumed at the time, saying his erstwhile partner just wanted to tarnish his image.
But today, for the first time, Stlofa admits his career was indeed at the mercy of bingeing and drug addiction.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express, the dreadlocked musician claimed he had quit both the bottle and marijuana, also known as dagga or matekoane locally.
“I felt I owned the stage when I was under the influence of drugs and I slowly got addicted,” he revealed.
Stlofa said he got hooked on alcohol and marijuana when he was 17, just a year before Lefate was formed.
“I slowly started taking dagga and alcohol during performances,” he said.
“This only happened when I went on stage but with time it became a habit.”
By the time Lefate released their award-winning debut album, Life is a Lie, in 2007, Stlofa could no longer do without a quaff and puff.
The group’s growing legion of fans started noticing — and those close to him tried to warn him on the perils of alcohol and drug abuse.
But he would not listen.
He said he felt raved up for a great performance when he was “high”.
“It just didn’t click in my mind that the results of my dependence on alcohol would one day cost me my career as a musician,” Stlofa said.
“I was stupid and lived a reckless lifestyle without meaning.”
It’s only now that he realises his “recklessness”.
Many had realised it long back, including function organisers who had started snubbing him because of his antics when drunk.
“I remember a time when I was scheduled to perform at a government-organised event with other local acts but the organisers decided to pull me out from the line-up because of my drinking problem,” Stlofa recalled.
“It really hurt me a lot but that did not stop me from taking alcohol.”
His alcohol problems partly led to his split from Damario.
Now a solo artist, Stlofa said he had realised he needed to refocus his career and that he could only do that by quitting substance abuse.
“It’s only now that I realise I have wasted all the precious time I had to construct my life and my music,” he said.
“I admit I was an alcoholic for many years but now that is behind me because Stlofa admits he has a problem and therefore needs help.”
Stlofa wants to be a role model.
“Now I am working on bringing back the real Stlofa who is destined to be a role model to the young and old, not the face of drug abuse,” he said.
“As part of his rehabilitation process, he said soon he will be working on an album dedicated to the fight against alcohol and drug abuse.
“I have seen the light and I will help my brothers see the same light that has brought me to the real world free from alcohol and drugs,” Stlofa said.
“Alcohol nearly destroyed my life and reputation but that is not the end because from now on I will work hard to regain that trust that people had in me and restore that image that I once had in the music industry.”
Fatere, one of Lesotho’s top musicians, has praised Stlofa for opening a new page in his life and career.
“This man has battled for a long time with drugs and alcohol,” Fatere told the Sunday Express.
“I believe if it wasn’t for that he would be places by now because he is talented and loved for his appealing music.”