South Africans were out in their numbers at the O.R. Tambo International Airport arrivals terminal on Wednesday to welcome home musician Sjava following his win at the BET Awards over the weekend.
Sjava, who took home the International Viewers' Choice for Best New Act during the BET Awards pre-show on Sunday, arrived to a proud and cheering crowd.
He headed straight to a nearby meeting room, where he briefed the media accompanied by Viacom Africa's Monde Twala.
Sjava's childhood friends, colleagues from the record label, Ambitiouz Entertainment, and family members including his mother, sisters, grandfather and uncles joined the crowds to welcome him.
Also present to welcome him home were friends and representatives from the Malvern Taxi Rank on Jules Street, where his mom used to work as a street vendor when they first moved to Johannesburg.
Okhahlamba Municipality mayor, Mlungisi Dlangisa says he's brought @Sjava_ATM 's family and up and coming artists from the area so they could experience moment with him.@HuffPostSApic.twitter.com/Coy5yKmxMi— Duenna Mambana (@Duenna_M) June 27, 2018
Speaking about his success, Sjava said none of it would have been possible had it not been for his mother's prayers.
Sjavas says he is anchored by his mother's prayers.— Duenna Mambana (@Duenna_M) June 27, 2018
"I don't need to ever do anything. I am covered by mum's prayers".@HuffPostSA
"I have always been anchored by my mother's prayers. She continues to carry me in her prayers and I am forever indebted to her for that. To an extent, I believe strongly that even if I never have to do a thing, my mom's prayers will carry me through just like they have all along," he said during the briefing.
He said his dream to make his mom, MaNkabinde, proud drives him to excel in what he does.
"That's what I make music for, to change my family's lives for the better and make my mother proud, there's nothing I want more than that," he said.
Sjava gave a lengthy explanation for his decision to don a traditional Zulu outfit at the BET Awards.
"I went to the Metros [Metro FM Music Awards 2017] wearing a black Brentwood [trousers], a leather jacket with no shirt on. I also recently attended the Samas [South African Music Awards] in my traditional Zulu wear, imvunulo, and on both occasions I was made a joke of.
"What people don't understand is that when I attend these big events wearing imvunulo, it is because where I come from, in Bergville, there's a kid that's making music who goes to Shembe – that kid has always been told he can't make it in the industry because his hair is different and he has a beard. So when he sees me looking like him, he is assured that he does not have to change for anyone.
"At the same time, I also represent my people from Malvern Taxi rank. My mom used to be a vendor here, for many years. I practically grew up on Jules Street. I have to represent those people, because they played a huge role in making me who I am today. They are a big part of me. So, everything I do, I do for people," Sjava said.
thats me my mom my childhood friend mkhino(slagos) at the taxi rank i grew up in all the teachings i got from this place made me pic.twitter.com/YbR5HgAIRS— Sjava indlalifa (@Sjava_ATM) February 26, 2017
The press conference soon turned into a celebration, with his mother taking to the stage.
Welcoming and congratulating her son, MaNkabinde said she was proud of him and his achievements.
She explained how, before his departure to Los Angeles in the United States, Sjava called her to say a special prayer for him.
"On the day, I was going to a prayer meeting and I made an offering praying for journey mercies for him and that all that he was travelling for work in his favour. Look at him today," she said.
She also recounted a moment she will never forget in her son's life, the day he went to a Lucky Dube concert.
"He'd gone to the concert with his aunt, my sister, and we don't know how it happened but he was suddenly missing. Moments later my sister found that he was actually on the stage, hand-in-hand with Lucky, singing.
"When we'd go to town and run out of money to get back home, he'd tell me to relax as he would do his thing. He'd go to the busiest parts of town and start singing and dancing. People would give him money and we'd get a taxi home. So when I see him today, I know it's been a long time coming. I wish him even more success," she said.
About the award itself, Sjava said he does not make music for accolades.
"For me, even meeting a person on the road who tells me they listened to my album and decided to make amends with their family or friend, is a big deal. I am only just hoping to make people feel good through the music I make, nothing else. When the awards come, I appreciate and stay ever humbled," he said.