Interview
Sjava on the BET Awards red carpet. Photo: BET International.

What Comes Next for Sjava

The South African musician talks to OkayAfrica about what it means to win a BET Award, his new EP and how Kendrick Lamar is a master curator ahead of the curve.

In a city that sees a lot, it's still striking to glimpse a man walking through Times Square with a big blue comb in his hair. Not just any comb, mind you. It's a comb that commemorates Nelson Mandela's centenary with a logo saying as much on it. Like most things Sjava does, there's a purpose and a message to his actions; a nod to where he comes from.

It hasn't been a month since winning the Viewer's Choice Best International Act at the BET Awards in Los Angeles and Sjava is already back in the US from South Africa. After scooping the coveted award, he returned to promote his EP Umphako. That includes interviews with local and international press, a listening session at the Viacom offices in Times Square, and making plans about what's to come now. "The music will determine what happens next, which direction we go," he says. "It's always about the music."

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Video still via Youtube.

Wanuri Kahiu Speaks on the Overwhelming Response to 'RAFIKI' at Cannes

"It doesn't matter where in the world you are, we all kind of fall in love in the same way."

When the credits rolled and the lights came up at the end of her film's premiere in the Palais des Festival, director Wanuri Kahiu stood next to her lead actresses Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, all dressed in off-white outfits, taking in the acclaim of a standing ovation. Someone in the audience shouted, 'Thank you!' and Kahiu put her hand over her heart. Festival director Thierry Fremaux motioned for them to look up and see just how many people were clapping in the theatre's balcony seats too, lauding the first Kenyan film to ever debut at the Cannes Film Festival.

"What's incredible about the response is that people are so excited about watching 'happy Africa,' Kahiu tells me the next day, with the Cote d'Azur shimmering in the sun behind her. "That's been the most curious thing. I haven't been reading reviews because I tend not to, good or bad, but somebody said there is a French journalist who wrote an article which said, 'How do Kenyans fall in love? The exact same way we do.' And that was exactly what I was trying to communicate with this film. It doesn't matter where in the world you are, we all kind of fall in love in the same way. We all kind of have joy in the same way."

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