Profile – Joburg not paved with gold, The President

2010-05-27 07:23

Kakou Privat Emmanuel Guihei, aka The President or Presi Jet Zulu,

is one of Ivory Coast’s hottest musicians. He honed his craft here in

Johannesburg.

Guihei came to the city of gold in 2005 in search of employment.

With little money in his pocket to last him a week and two words of English, he

landed at the OR Tambo International Airport with no place to go. But he was

fortunate to be spotted by a passer-by at the airport who took him to Hillbrow,

downtown Johannesburg, where he quickly connected with fellow Ivorians.

“Joburg is hard and this is what I say to people all the time. You

have to be strong here. It is through my difficult experiences that I’ve been

able to advance and this is the message in my music. You have to work hard to

succeed and hold onto that vision,” said Guihei.

His music, sung in French, indigenous Ivorian languages and a bit

of Zulu, carry a strong message of hope and determination.

Today, after a rapid rise to fame both in South Africa and in Ivory

Coast, Guihei and his band, The Jet Set, are lighting up stages and TV screens

as pop stars.

As an individual, he models his dress code on the gangsta rap

images of bling hip-hop artists as a ploy to get people to take a closer look

and listen to his message.

“If you look closely at the picture on my CD, you’ll see the cigar

is not lit. I did this on purpose to say to young people that the good life is

nice but you must work harder for it.”

The first impression of him is his energy. And he is clear when he

says his presence in Johannesburg is strategic. Knowing what his peers back at

home think of Johannesburg – streets paved with gold, Guihei says it’s important

for people in his position to realise the difficulties of life on their own.

However, most importantly to him is just to convey a positive message to his

peers.

“When I came here, I immersed myself in South African culture. I

learnt a lot and today, I can see how important it is that we work together to

build Africa.

“One of my big messages to young people is that if we must go

abroad to work, then it is important to build and invest at home. We can’t leave

it all to politicians.”

He said he has seen the power of media and how his music has an

impact on other people. And he’s quick to accept responsibility as a role model

for the youth.

Inspired by his myriad experiences, Guihei has modelled his vision

into what he calls Fasci Fashion, which is also the title of his album. Fa (from

Fasci) – stands for fashion, S – for South Africa, and CI – Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory

Coast in French).


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