After his recent brush with death he’s been extra cautious each time he gets behind the wheel of a car. His close shave hit the headlines over the Easter weekend and Ntando Bangani is still trying to cope with it all.
The 38-year-old was driving his Mercedes-Benz CLS 500 when a woman rammed into him on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 4th Street in Linden, Johannesburg.
The luxury car, worth R500 000, was written off but the singer walked away with barely a scratch. He’s lucky to be alive, Ntando tells us when he pops into DRUM’s Auckland Park offices. The Dali singer, who’s working on a new album, was heading to a studio session with music producer Robin Walsh that day.
“There weren’t many cars on the road, but out of the blue a car skipped the robots and sped towards me,” Ntando says. “I heard a loud bang and all I could see was white. I thought, ‘This is it’. I thought I had reached heaven and I was going to plead to be taken back to Earth.”
Ntando realised he was alive when he saw his arms covered in blood. He wiggled his toes and thanked God he wasn’t seriously injured.
The white image he had thought was heaven turned out to be the car’s airbag, which had injured him with the force of its detonation.
After tearing himself out of his smashed car, Ntando whispered a plea as he walked over to the other vehicle to check on the driver.
“I prayed there were no children in the car,” he says. “When I got to her, she was alone and had a few bruises. She was hysterical so I had to calm her down.”
Once the driver calmed down, she told Ntando her brakes had failed.
The singer called his brother, Velile Bangani, 40, and Robin, who both came to the scene. After reporting the crash to the local police station and his insurance company, Ntando asked Velile to drive them to the recording studio. “When I tell people I went to the studio they think it’s crazy because I’d gotten into an accident an hour before. But I wasn’t critically injured so I didn’t need to go home and have the crash on my mind,” he says. Instead, he chose to bare his soul through song. He’s been hitting the studio hard to finish his new album. Ntando’s latest single, Nono, has struck a chord with fans. Inspired by the stadium anthem of the same name, the love song is a crowd-pleaser that showcases his velvet voice.
The Nelspruit-born singer became a household name when he broke into the industry in 2003 with his debut album, Kwantu. After taking a break in 2017 to raise his sons, Kumkani, 11, Lwandle, eight, and Wakhe, three, he was welcomed by fans with open arms when he released his album Mayibuye later that year.
Ntando’s music sets the perfect tone for weddings and romance, but he admits none of his love songs have been as successful as his runaway hit Ndiyamthanda.
“I’ve always known a comeback takes time,” he says. “It’s important to stay focused on what you want to achieve when you do something. For me it’s not about awards, it’s about the people who have supported my passion. It’s because of those people that I made a comeback.” Nono is off his eighth album, which he hopes to release soon. “About 16 tracks have been recorded but we still have to cut it down to about 10,” he says.
“I can’t expand on what people can expect, but it’s obviously about love and it has a political theme to it as well.” Fans can also expect a few collaborations, he notes. “Vusi Nova is on one of the tracks.”
The crash has given Ntando a new perspective on life. Family, faith and music have always been his cornerstones, but now he values them even more. After his recording session Ntando says Velile drove them to their mother’s home.
Nobuntu Bangani, 67, chided them for going to the studio instead of praying.
“My mother is extremely religious. She’s always telling us about the importance of prayer.” By then the shock of the crash had worn off and as the adrenalin left his body, Ntando started to feel pain. He suffered in silence because he didn’t want to alarm his mother.
The singer adds, “A few weeks ago, my brother’s car caught fire out of now here and it worried my mother.”
Ntando is trying to avoid watching video clips of the crash, which was captured by the surveillance cameras of a nearby house.
“Last night I couldn’t sleep. I went on my phone and told myself I wouldn’t watch the video again because it’s too traumatic,” he says. “But I’m glad there’s evidence the accident wasn’t my fault.”
By the time we’re done catching up, the city’s notorious storm clouds have gathered. There’s a loud crack of thunder and Ntando shudders. He hopes it doesn’t rain; he says. “There are usually more accidents on the road when it rains. I don’t want to get caught up in that.” -Drum