I wish I was black …

i remember the first time I saw a black person … I was so intrigued. arrived to South Africa when I was 7 and was plonked in the staff village of a 5 star hotel. My dad off at work, my mom in our little flat, and me outside, not knowing a word of english get a weirdly shaped ball thrown at me by two ‘slightly darker than the norm kids…’ I don’t know which shocked me more, the ball or the kids that according to my mind must’ve just chilled waaaaay too long in the sun. I remember that moment so clearly. Mphiwe and Mbasa were their names and we soon became the closest of friends. But before any friendship began I ran into my mothers arms in tears telling her that I did not want to be in this country any longer because they didnt make soccer balls properly here. I had never heard or seen anything to do with rugby.
So that was my first encounter with black people. Ever since then all my closest of friends have been either black or coloured. Trust me, I didn’t pick it out this way. It kind of just tends to happen naturally.
I have always been told since a very young age by people around me, “haai no wena boy, you are a black man trapped inside a white mans body.” I mean I get it, I learnt Xhosa the same time I learnt English and Afrikaans, I played soccer really well, and I was always thinking black and coloured girls were really beautiful. But what I also did is I always respected people’s cultures and differences. I was intrigued by the fact that every older lady would be my ‘mama’ and all older men would my ‘Tata’ and slightly older woman or men would be my ‘sisi’ or my ‘bhuti’ … This was cool … I mean more family for me :) By the time I got to high school I was fascinated by something else, the older guys in matric were wearing these funny hats and mud on their faces. I at first thought these guys are really serious about looking after their skin but later did eventually find out that they had gone to the ‘bush’ and had now become a man so other black ‘kwedinis’ (boys) had to call them Ta … For example Samkelo would now become Ta Samkelo. So because my best friend in high school was a black kid I wanted to be like him in a way and he wanted to be like me in a way too. So there I was, a 13yr old ‘kwedini’ walking through the school hallway greeting older matric pupils who had gone to the mountain ‘Ta’ this and ‘Ta’ that. No I didn’t have too, but something inside me wanted to. Did I wish i was black? Not at all. I just wanted to respect them. I just wanted to show that I was willing to meet them halfway and to put our differences together and make them a universal ‘language’ or way of life. Cause when I invite them to my house and they get asked by my mother to cross their cutlery when they are done eating and don’t understand why in the world they would need to do that, I could just whisper and say, “ekse boy ndisokufundisa later, but for now just do it it’s part of our ‘cuture’…” I just wanted to be respected and to respect. I have always said that respect for others is probably one of the most important qualities to have in ones life. And you know what, when I got to std9 and 10 I was being called by all the younger kids as Ta J … Not because I asked them too but because they had gained a lot of respect towards me. Did I wish I was black? Absolutely not. I was just being me. I’ve said this before and ill say it again, it is not hard being you if you stick to being you!
Now, a lot of the time I find myself being the only white guy in my surroundings. I mean Mo, Duda, and myself touring the continent, doing a genre or music that is predominantly listened to by black people in SA could only mean that I would be the ‘quota’ at the party. But I have never felt out of place. Never felt like I shouldn’t be there. Never felt like I shouldn’t walk ekasi or eat a khota or at a shisanyama. Why? Do I wish I was black? Nope. I’m proud to be who i am and where I am from. But color, or the country I was born in, or the food I eat, or the places I like to go too do not define who or what I am. I am who I am. I never once in my mind said, I am going to learn Xhosa so that one day I can get into the music scene, shoot a music video walking trough the streets of Alex township singing SANBONANI to the world out there. I guess a lot of people think that it’s a great idea. An amazing concept for a white guy to be doing that. And I agree with those people. Shucks man if I had come up with that concept I would regard myself a pure genius. But the truth is I didn’t… It just happened. I just happened to like chilling after school in the coloured area with my mates listening to music from a boot of a car whilst the guys had a couple of ciders. I enjoyed listening to music with a 4 – 4 groove. I enjoyed dancing. And most of all I enjoyed being happy. Feeling like we all had something in common.
You know a question I get all the time since I’ve become a little more known around the globe is, “What has been your greatest achievement to date?” And my answer always is, ” Yes we have won many awards, albums both have done well, seen so many beautiful places, sold out shows, etc etc, but my greatest achievement in my eyes has been seeing so many different races at our shows, buying our music and supporting what we do. Most of our shows are filled with black, white, coloured, Indian people and they all come out to support Mi Casa.”
 It’s incredible! What I had silently dreamt of at a young age is coming to fruition now. Do I wish I was black? Neh… Am I happy that I am white? Not necessarily … What I am happy about is that I am here, to witness a time such as this. I am proud to be a human being!

love

J

#iwishiwasblack

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28 thoughts on “I wish I was black …

  1. Nelisa says:

    Wow! Love it .its the kind of mentality I like about you! You have uBuntu!-“quota” is what they call me too! :) :) anyway …love! Love!

  2. @poeticpen says:

    I like the way u connect with all us who love the sounds of micasa sucasa, keeep blazing the tunes. #respect were its due. You define being unique

  3. Mandi says:

    Ndikuthandela the humble person that you are..God bles bro!

  4. This is beautiful, thank you for being the most humble person that you are

  5. your text is perfect, normally i dont like to read things on the internet because most of them are useless, but yours, once i started, i ddnt want to stop .. where you originally from ? ( i dont speak/write english very well, ) .. i cant wait to read the others and the new ones :) .. congrats J.

  6. Leo says:

    Wow.. Its the first time I’m reading this and I’m sooooo touched u are such an amazing person wow… Keep It up … I think actually I knw da reason why we just love you continuosly because u just wat we have always waited for in da music industry.. Wow I’m a BIG FAN… :)
    I LOVE, I LOVE

  7. Avela @AvelaElle says:

    The reason we love Micasa and J… Not just because of your music but because of your being :D so glad you came down here <3 may God bless you guys abundantly :)xx

  8. I have a similar blogpost to this called “I AM A COCONUT” http://sammyg14.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/i-am-a-coconut/

  9. nivika says:

    Awesome Joao! Really love it! Have always loved your ‘chilled for days’ attitude! And this has explained so much! Keep soaring bro! <3

  10. Megz444 says:

    After reading this, I honestly have a new found respect for the person you are. This post is a perfect example of the way in which people should think, in order to get over the ghost of the past that continues to hover over us , Apartheid. I hope you realize that, as you have a large number of the youth following and supporting you as part of Mi Casa, this could possibly influence them into gaining a mentality such as this. The youth of today are the future, I hope they learn from this post.

    #TeamJ #TeamMo #TeamDuda

    #TEAM MI CASA! <3

  11. Kutlwano says:

    Ta J… A great and insightful piece on your mindset. You are indeed a great epitome of an inclusive, cultured person, who has not let any cultural background of any person, be the wall between them and yourself. I am aware that you do Campus Ministry as well, together with His People – I do not fellowship there, but I am glad to say that the Kindgom of God, has a true Ambassador – Keep it up, and may God continue working through you, and enlarge you as well…

  12. Daniela Wolf says:

    Wow. This is beautiful!
    True words spoken from the heart, I love this. xx

  13. Jemimah Chetty says:

    For sure inspiring im mixed race all 4 my grandparents are different races… so when asked whats ur race im like im a human being. Proud to be part of the foundation phase where we will raise up a nation where race wont even be a question. ..

  14. seo says:

    i like this !!
    i like this alot
    more people like you are needed in this world …
    you have an amazing view of everything :) you see and live both sides :)

    love it !! <3

  15. lifeinkeyofg says:

    You AAAAPSOLUTE BEAUT! Thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I am so glad that you are who you are and always will be. My life is forever enriched by you!

  16. Panda says:

    Humility is something that is gained and practiced as we grow in wisdom and grace. With each of your blog posts I’m seeing more of myself being humbled. Your humility is just amazing! I thank God for someone like you. Keep on keeping on <3 #ChristLike

  17. natasha frost says:

    Love reading ur blog. An inspiration u r to many of us. U r beautiful inside nd out and Gods goodness shines thru u… Keep praising our Lord the finisher and perfector of our faith. I had tears in my eyes while reading…cud relate to ur single parent growing up story all too well but once again I stand in awe at Gods goodness. Thank u for sharing ur talent with us. Your music is amazing…wen I listen to ur portugeuse songs I wish I made my gran taught me the language…for now humming is all I do…LOL
    Remain blessed and humbled
    Tash

  18. natasha frost says:

    Love reading ur blog. An inspiration u r to many of us. U r beautiful inside nd out and Gods goodness shines thru u… Keep praising our Lord the finisher and perfector of our faith. I had tears in my eyes while reading…cud relate to ur single parent growing up story all too well but once again I stand in awe at Gods goodness. Thank u for sharing ur talent with us. Your music is amazing…wen I listen to ur portugeuse songs I wish I made my gran teach me the language…for now humming is all I do…LOL
    Remain blessed and humbled
    Tash

  19. Nobuhle says:

    Hey Ta J I really enjoyed your #iwishiwasblack story, it was really inspiring because it teaches us South Africans about living in a country where skin colour does not matter but respecting other peoples cultures and uniting. Wow I just want to say keep up the amazing work you do and please continue to inspire us with your stories.. Ps thanks for being your humble self ☺.

  20. Priyanka says:

    Amazing blog J! We need more people like you in this world!

  21. Joel says:

    Inspiring

  22. Tai Romão says:

    Absolutely stunning.
    What inspiring words for any young person.

    You truely are the Rose among the thorns Joao(not the other way round like how the saying goes)
    You have inspired me to go out there & be more comfortable with myself & to embrace my cultures both Portuguese & being a young South African, if I can classify those as my cultures & live for the moment.

    Before if someone came up to me & asked me if I wished I was something else, I’d take a long time to answer. Because who wouldn’t want to be a little more successful, a little more happy & most importantly a different skin colour ?.

    But now if someone has to ask me that question I can easily answer then with a big smile & simply say “No, I am happy being me.”

    #thanks for your inspiring words

  23. Tai Romão says:

    Absolutely stunning.
    What inspiring words for any young person.

    You truely are the Rose among the thorns Joao(not the other way round like how the saying goes)
    You have inspired me to go out there & be more comfortable with myself & to embrace my cultures both Portuguese & being a young South African, if I can classify those as my cultures & live for the moment.

    Before if someone came up to me & asked me if I wished I was something else, I’d take a long time to answer. Because who wouldn’t want to be a little more successful, a little more happy & most importantly a different skin colour ?.

    But now if someone has to ask me that question I can easily answer them with a big smile & simply say “No, I am happy being me.”

    #thanks for your inspiring words

  24. Lungelo says:

    This is amazing! Great lesson. Always Stay true to who you are. Great 1 Ta J

  25. Wow that was well written,I love it

  26. Zanele says:

    Wow, not what I expected but a lovely surprise

  27. Nqobile mahungu says:

    Wow I’m humbled by the humanity & the positive mentality you have towards life…….Its truly awesome the world could do with a lot of J’s out there!!!!!!! You a blessing to mankind,keep shinning like the star you are!

  28. monique says:

    Wow what an inspiring piece of words…you are truly that heart of gold…and matured guy I’ve sensed you are…besides those good looks and killer moves you have… are just the icing on top! I’m a 23 year old colored female. Big fan of yours! And reading this I was touched by the love you spread talking about different races and I have to be honest although we are living in this beautiful colorful free country of ours its not many that has the mind set you have. So I honestly am grateful for what you are doing for our country. Keep doing it, you will always be blessed…:) much love from your biggest monique xxx ;)

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