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!