Appreciating ‘so-called coloured’ heritage

Last year Emile YX? won the Expresso Morning shows Mandela Monday Hero Award. In April he won the LeadSA hero for April, then LeadSA for the Western Cape, then the National LeadSA Hero of the Year, followed by the etv South African Hero Acknowledgement. After that the South African Hip Hop Awards awarded him the King of The Western Cape title. Now Emile YX? is on a mission to acknowledge heroes in his community.

Hip hop activist, teacher and founder of Heal the Hood, Emile Jansen, better known as Emile YX?, is working on a new project titled So-called Coloured Appreciation Month.

Thirty-one “So-called Coloured heroes” who have made a contribution to society will be celebrated each day in March.

Emile said the aim of the project is to inspire the youth.

He said while working with pupils at schools over the years, he found out that “our youth have very little knowledge about the great heritage that we come from and thus feel that they cannot reach the heights of others, who seem to have many role-models and struggle heroes. I feel that this is what contributes to the growing drug, gang and other issues in our communities.”

One example of a so-called coloured hero is his father, Basil “Puzzy” Jansen who will be 80 years old this year.

Emile said a few people know that his father was a soccer icon. “He played for Cape Ramblers, coached Cape Town Spurs and youth like Benedict McCarthy and Quinton Fortune. He still contributes to soccer by coaching juniors at Milano at present. Not many people know that he is my dad. We are not documenting nor encouraging our children to learn about our own community.”

During a tour of schools last year with Cape Town rapper Youngsta CPT (Riyadh Roberts) and Heal the Hood, a project to create a sustainable network of youth artists, the youth were asked if they knew who Prophets Of Da City were and none of them knew.

“Unless we tell our children about our great past, we will lose all of this heritage and greatness than we come from.

“In my recent search for heroes to add to the Facebook group, So-Called Coloured Appreciation Month, I too am learning so much and would encourage others to join the group and add to the conversation. From Ashley Kriel to Dulcie September, from Abdullah Ibrahim to Vicky Sampson, from Benedict McCarthy to Desiree Ellis, from Mark Lottering to Denise Newman and more.”

Emile said the coloured community has contributed to every facet of South African society and demand “to be appreciated for all of our greatness and not just the stereotypes used by marketing companies for adverts”.

“(We will start) by appreciating ourselves and at the end of the 31 days we will release a book of that first 31 so-called coloured heroes that we acknowledged and celebrated. Join us.”

Heal The Hood Project will be working this theme into all their projects for 2017 and schools interested in getting copies of this book and anyone wanting to contribute or suggest more heroes can email or call Emile on 082 395 8125 or find So-called Coloured / Mixed Race Appreciation Month – March group on Facebook.