Singer Jackie Chandiru, former lead member of Ugandan all-female pop group Blue 3, talked to Life & Style about her battle with drug addiction and her journey towards getting back on her feet.
Tell us more about this song and what led you to compose it. How did you start your career?
‘Gold Digger’ is mainly about people’s perception that women are always after men’s wealth, and not love. My producer and I wanted something that would speak for that section of women to show that much as there is a misconception, there are women who love with all their hearts. This song was definitely a huge boost for my solo career.
You started out as a group of three ladies and you finally went alone, what happened?
Well, one of us was convinced to start a solo career in Italy. When she got there, she informed us of her intentions and quit the group. But later when she realised it wasn’t working, she decided to come back. We even made her travel arrangements but she never got on the plane. We had to move on with a new member. That also changed after a while and we went separate ways. Sometimes growth needs to happen individually…
Tell us about your journey, how has it been? At some point you got yourself into drugs, what happened?
I have had a long one. I was involved in an accident and sustained an injury. With my kind of work, it was hard and the pain was unbearable. There was a 50-50 chance of success for surgery.
During this period, I was given a pain killer, pethidine, to help with the pain, especially due to my tedious work. I was, however, warned that the drug was addictive. Unfortunately, I got addicted to it.
How has your recovery journey been?
Very difficult but also fulfilling because it made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. My body suffered a lot during this period and I discovered that I had several underlying medical conditions, which were treated through stem cell technology.
I hurt badly because of the loneliness and condemnation. It was the hardest time of my life, but I am glad to say I am a recovering addict.
Tell us about the scars on your body?
These are the places I used to inject every day. I was not following the vein and would inject anywhere so long as the drug got in my system. At the peak of addiction, I was doing up to 20 ampoules a day. I am now on plant stem cell to heal the wounds.
You were once married to a billionaire, what happened? Was he supportive?
Yes, I was married to a billionaire. We divorced because of my habits. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a child. And yes, he was extremely supportive during my recovery and afterwards. He is a good man who loved me even during my addiction.
The book that you are about to release, tell us more
It’s basically about my life; everything I went through or saw while growing up that led to my addiction. And I didn’t realise it until I finally pieced it together. All my decisions were because of my upbringing; from the first time I injected a needle into my body and how it ended up.
What advice would you give young girls who are upcoming musicians?
Just because you are female doesn’t mean nothing is possible without having a man behind you. Always follow your heart and passion and above all put God first because He will pave the way for you. And, always take care of His temple – do not abuse it for our bodies are the Lord’s temple.
The internet killed you four times and you tried committing suicide four times, why did you want to kill yourself?
I was tired, life was meaningless and I felt worthless and betrayed. I didn’t want to exist and it seemed like people would be better off without me, and they let me know in the harshest of ways. The media made it worse, I couldn’t heal in private, I was broken inside and outside. Death seemed the perfect solution. And the best way to forget I ever existed. And for others to have peaceful sleep.
What do you enjoy doing most now that you are on your recovery journey?
I enjoy being with people that love me and are proud to be associated with me after what transpired. I enjoy being a motivational speaker even to people twice my age on life experiences. I love life the way it is now because I finally found peace. And I love preaching the gospel of recovery. If I made it, why can’t you?
Which artist inspired you the most while growing up?
I looked up to Michael Jackson. He was phenomenal and hands-on in everything he did. While on stage, he always made his performances unforgettable.
Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?
Adele! If I ever get to sing with her, my career will be over because I’ll have achieved everything I want musically.
What’s a subject you’ve always wanted to write a song/sing about?
Two things: Justice for women who have gone or go through domestic violence. I am also against stigmatisation of people suffering from chronic diseases and addiction. I happen to be a victim of both.
Who are the next big female artists you’re currently obsessed with?
Nadia Mukami from Kenya and Azawi from Uganda. I think they are amazing women, and they are going to be household names.
Your parting shot?
I am grateful for this second chance. I am grateful for stem cell technology –STC30 – that saved my life. God gave me a chance to heal through that and I am grateful he made me go through what I went through, otherwise I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.
Your big dreams?
I want to change people’s lives, not just musically, but with my story because I know many are going through a lot. I want them to know that nothing is impossible with God and second chances exist no matter how many times you fall.