Sjava with mom Thandi Nkabini. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava with mom Thandi Nkabini. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava with Monde Twala, Vice President for BET, Youth and Music for Viacom International Media Networks. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava with Monde Twala, Vice President for BET, Youth and Music for Viacom International Media Networks. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava with Monde Twala, Vice President for BET, Youth and Music for Viacom International Media Networks and Mlungisi Dlangisa of Bergville mayor Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava with Monde Twala, Vice President for BET, Youth and Music for Viacom International Media Networks and Mlungisi Dlangisa of Bergville mayor Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava and mom, umama Thandi Nkabini. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava and mom, umama Thandi Nkabini. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava and mom, umama Thandi Nkabini and grandpa Vincent Nkabini. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Sjava and mom, umama Thandi Nkabini and grandpa Vincent Nkabini. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Fans welcome Sjava. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Mzansi welcomed Sjava back on Wednesday at OR Tambo International Airport, after his BET Award win on Sunday in Los Angeles. He scooped the BET’s Viewer’s Choice Best International Act award, making him the first South African hip-hop artist to bag the international prize. 

Sjava was nominated alongside Niniola (Nigeria), NOT3S (UK), Kwesi Arthur (Ghana), SIK-K (S.Korea), Prince Waly (France), Nailah Blackman (The Caribbean), MC Soffia (Brazil), Take A MIC (France) and IAMDDB (UK).

The Ngempela hitmaker made Mzansi even more proud when he walked to the stage bare feet, dressed in his traditional Zulu regalia. He thanked his family, friend and all his fans for support they have given him throughout his music career. Sjava expressed his gratitude: “To all my team for the incredible support you have provided me, to my fans who listen to my music and all the DJs who play my music, I really appreciate it. Siyabonga.”

He said he wanted to honour his mother, mam Thandi Nkabinde for always saying a prayer for him.

In a moving speech, Sjava urged young people to be proud of who they are. He also took guests back to some of his traditional gear he wore at the awards ceremonies that which he sometimes got mocked for.

"I remember at the Metro FM Awards where I wore black Brentwood and no t-shirt just leather jacket. Even at the SAMA’s where I wore my traditional attire, I was a joke, a lot of people mocked me. But what people don't understand is that when I’m wearing ibheshu, there are kids from Bergville or Shembe church who make music with self doubt thinking they cannot make it in the hip hop scenery because they don’t have fancy hair or fancy clothes.

When these kids see me in my African attire, they get inspired that they do not have to change their identity to fit in the hip hop genre. Whether you’re Venda, Xhosa, the whole (ATM) African Trap Music movement is about Africans and that’s why we try by all means to keep it within our culture. We take our music together with our culture abroad without compromise. "

He further explained: "My mom used to be a vendor at the taxi rank together with my uncles. Those are the people I represent everywhere I go because they played a huge role to get me where I am today. I don’t make music to brag about myself, I make music for the people and to represent my culture. 

I want to inspire people at hostels who dream of attending awards in Brentwoods without the fear of being judged because such events are portrayed as 'black tie' only and that’s not the case. If Brentwood is what you wear daily then you shouldn’t be apologetic about it because that’s who you are. 

Always wear something that you’re comfortable in because if not, you’ll end up losing your confidence trying to be something you’re not. We should always be proud of our identity."

Check out Mama Nkabinde hails her son.

Sjava’s family, mom, Thandi Nkabinde, grandpa Vincent Nkabinde, sister Fezile Nkabinde, uncles and other family members, the mayor Mlungisi Dlangisa of Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, where Sjava was born and raised, members of the community, all came to congratulate the local super star.

Fans came out in large numbers, singing and holding placards bearing messages of love and support for Sjava. Fellow musicians Emtee, Gigi Lamayne, Londi London and Cece also came to congratulate the international award winner.