Ademola Olonilua and Timileyin Akinkahunsi
While some fans mystify their favourite celebrity and give them a ‘godlike’ image, Managing Director of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, Sipho Dlamini, in a chat told Saturday Beats that celebrities are very sensitive people and to battle this side of them, they tend to resort to drug abuse. He seized the opportunity to advise entertainers to visit psychologists and psychiatrists often as they can.
“There are insecurities involved in the entertainment profession; you know it is very scary for a musician to record and release the music because they do not know if people are going to like it. Sadly, we do not have psychologists talking to our musicians, so don’t be surprised when they start smoking weed or drugs. It is because they are trying to deal with their insecurities as they do not have anyone to talk to. Instead, we should have psychologists and psychiatrists talking to these artistes because they need to talk to somebody. They need someone to talk to,” he said.
He noted that drug abuse is rampant among entertainers because they have made it look cool and ‘sexy’.
Dlamini said, “I think the problem is that people have made substance abuse look sexy and it has become something people think is normal. People go out for a party and they either smoke something or they are taking alcohol. In the midst of the ‘high’, someone offers you something and since you believe everybody does it, you go ahead. You convince yourself that it is not harmful and these are all lies. It all starts with sayings like, ‘I can handle my drink, it is not a problem,’ ‘I only drink on weekends.’ These are lies that have been fed to people so that they would continue to abuse substances. Unfortunately, because some people think it is sexy and cool, they do it just to fit into the crowd. One of the reasons why it is a big problem in our industry is because creative people are sensitive people; by virtue of being creative, your senses are more heightened than that of a normal person. I am not making excuses for them but there are many reasons why drug abuse is prevalent in our industry.
“My weakness is to drink coffee with a lot of sugar and if I do not manage that in the long run, I could end up like those taking alcohol. We all have to learn how to create balance in our lives; sadly, few people know how to maintain that balance and are more susceptible to drug abuse.
“I also feel that poverty is part of the problem that drives some into substance abuse. It is a way for them to escape or numb the pain of what they are dealing with.”
He hinted that the problem has become so serious in the industry that some artiste managers encourage their acts to depend on hard drugs. “Some managers know that once their artistes lay their hands on money, it is to buy drugs but they would not say anything to their artistes. Some would even buy it for them. We have a lot of enablers around. For these managers, as far as they can get the artiste back on stage to do another gig and get another pay cheque, they do not care about the artiste’s health. There are many levels of the horrible element of drug and substance abuse in the creative industry and that is why we should talk about it. We have to tell people at a young age that it is wrong to smoke weed. What happens nowadays is that they say weed is okay while cocaine is bad. For most people, it all started with alcohol. I remember when I was growing up, Indian hemp was like heroin to me. I always ran away from it because my mother would kill me. For me, smoking Indian hemp was the worst thing that I could do and I was scared of it but now, you see 12-year-olds smoking Indian hemp and they say, it is just weed,” the music executive said.
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