For Jabulani Hadebe, losing hope has never been an option, and if he had the opportunity to speak to his younger self, he would tell him, “Thanks for not giving up”.
Known by his stage name, Sjava, Hadebe received a nod in this year’s BET Viewers’ Choice Best International Act category, and has been nominated alongside Nigeria’s Niniola and Kwesi Arthur of Ghana.
The 34-year-old said he was honoured for being nominated, especially as South Africa’s rising star.
“It’s amazing, but then, it’s people from outside of the country who are showing us the appreciation and nominating us.
“I just hope that people will vote for us, because Cassper (Nyovest) is also nominated. Let’s just look at it and take it as a country,” said Sjava.
Local rapper Nyovest and gqom kings Distruction Boyz will also represent South Africa at this year’s BET Awards following an announcement last month that the local stars have been nominated in the Best International Act category.
Sjava said there were a number of misconceptions about how he might have received the nomination and if he would win the award.
“We are from the rural areas. The people who really listen to our music don’t have smartphones and some don’t understand the digital votes. I will just continue to campaign for votes. But since it’s a digital thing, the chances are very slim,” he said.
Sjava is once of the few local artists who raised the South African flag high, after collaborating with US rapper Kendrick Lamar in Black Panther: The Album.
He highlighted that the international recognition changed a number of people’s views about believing in oneself.
“It changed a lot of people’s mindsets, not just artists but everybody, to show them that it’s possible to become anything that you want to be. Just by being yourself and believing in yourself,” he said.
Sjava said the support from his family came at a later stage and that his mother did not believe in his dreams of making it in the music industry.
“To them it really doesn’t make sense. Where I come from, you have to go to school, and once you know how to write, you go and find a job.
“It’s confusing when you tell your mother that there are job offers in the nearest firms but you don’t want to go because you want to sing. To them you are a crazy child, until it works,” he said.
“I remember the first time I made her listen to one of my songs and she said to me, ‘Hai this is not your song’. Because she didn’t believe that the song belonged to me.
“Now she understands, and she is cool and there is money coming in. The only time a parent will believe that you are working will be when money is coming in,” Sjava laughed.
He told The Star that a lot of people who were close to him did not know that he was passionate about the craft of making music.
The Uthando rapper said he had been working on new music which he has been recording. He said a potential EP, called Umphako, would be five songs, which would be a taste of an upcoming album.
Fans will be able to cast their vote for their favourite Best International Act nominees on BET.com and on Twitter and Instagram @BET_Africa using the designated hashtags #IPICKSJAVA18.
The winner will be announced at the BET red carpet before the show begins.