WATCH: Lira opens up about her medical ordeal: ‘I didn’t know I had a stroke’

AWARD-winning music artist Lira. | Instagram

AWARD-winning music artist Lira. | Instagram

Published Apr 19, 2024


South Africa’s queen of Afrosoul, Lira, is back in business after suffering a stroke in 2022, which left her unable to read, write or speak.

The “Feel Good” hitmaker has since made significant strides in her recovery and is set to make her first live performance in years, during Africa Day celebrations at Constitution Hill in May.

The song-bird recently visited “Kaya 959”, where she did her first radio interview since her medical ordeal.

Speaking to author and presenter Thabo T-Bose Mokwele, she provided details about her stroke and recovery process.

“I didn’t think it (the stroke) was meant to end me. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t talk, nothing was physically wrong with me. I wasn’t unconscious, I had no pain. I didn’t realise how serious a stroke is.

“A person would see me as normal, they wouldn’t think I had a stoke, but when I speak, when I struggle to speak, then the people thought it was invisible.”

She went on to divulge that she suffered an ischemic stroke, which is a blood clot that burst, affecting the brain.

“I had to learn reading, writing and speaking from scratch. I cried, I couldn’t communicate. That sent me into a mental state. I cried for one day and the next day I realised there’s nothing for me to do, I can’t change this, so I better accept.

She said when she accepted her situation, she knew that it was time for her to take a break from her career.

“The talking was linked to my business. It was logical that I needed to take a break from my career.

“I’ve been working many years, so I’ve kept saving for one year. I do that anyway, so I could afford to take a break. I wasn’t worried about that, but nothing was going to cause me to take a break, except this. I saw it was life’s way of telling me to take a break.”

Revealing more details about the time of the stoke, she said that her partner had texted her at the time and that she didn’t know she had the stroke.

“He texted me ‘Hi’ and I responded in gibberish, and I couldn’t write. I felt what I wanted to say, but the words didn’t come out. I responded in gibberish, sent six messages, and he called me, and I couldn’t answer the phone.

“My mind didn’t know how to answer the phone, I answered on the third try. By now I was distraught. I couldn’t talk, I tried to gesture, and I was shocked. I was like in a movie,” she said.

She said she didn’t think much of it and thought that if she went to sleep, she would be better in the morning.

“In the morning, I couldn’t speak, and I had a gig the following day. I reached out to my phone but the wi-fi had kicked me off, so I was alone.”

Eventually her partner contacted her agent, who sent over the show promoter, who then called an ambulance.

“The paramedics couldn’t speak a world of English. They knew I had a stroke, but they couldn’t tell me. Then, at the hospital a nurse (who spoke English) told me that I had a stroke. I was mad. I thought maybe they could give me a pill so that I could perform.

“I stayed in hospital for two weeks. I was in ICU for five days,” she recalled.

Later, she said, the overall experience did not frustrate her and that learning how to read, write and speak again fascinated her.

“Who gets to go be grown up and experiencing themselves as a child again? That doesn’t happen. I felt lucky. I lived in gratitude. Seeing the things that I get to do, I’m excited about life, and the kind of life I get to live now.”

Watch the interview below: