A peak at JOVA report - Meet Sal Masekela
sal.jpgOk, ok... we've been asked to give a peak into what a page from JOVAreport looks like. We thought we'd introduce anyone that's not already a fan by giving you a taster of one of our favourite articles, an exclusive interview with Sal Masekela: If you’re a fan of E! Entertainment, you would certainly have spotted the familiar surname of the popular host Sal Masekela. We did. And, of course, we went off to find out more about him. While doing some research on Sal’s background, we were interested to find the words, “Hugh Masekela is the father of Sal Masekela…” as an introduction to his famous dad. It seems Sal’s star is rising so fast there’s just no stopping him. We had to know more.

You’re the son of one of South Africa and the continent’s foremost musical maestros. Did you grow up at all in South Africa?
I’m a child of exile. I was conceived during my father’s 30-year exile from South Africa. My mother and father met in Los Angeles in the late 60s. My mom is from Haiti. Contrary to Internet belief, Miriam Makeba, while a dear aunty, is not my mother. I grew up in New York city till I was 16, then my parents decided to move to Southern California - San Diego, specifically. It was there that I learned to surf, snowboard and skateboard.

Do you identify with and relate to South Africa? Do you speak any of our 11 official languages, besides English?
I relate to South Africa by having been raised by a father that never abandoned who he was and where he came from. That blood flows through me, and I am proud of it. Growing up as a teenager in the late 80s and early 90s, apartheid and the gross injustice associated with it was something that dominated the headlines here in America. Strange as it may seem, at times I felt a real guilt that I was here in the States, while most of my family on my father’s side were living the struggle. When I went home for the first time in 1991, the big question from my countless cousins, aunties and uncles was, “Why don’t you speak Zulu?” That’s growing up in America. It wasn’t a language spoken in my home, as I grew up with my mother mostly. The funny thing is that after years of singing my father’s songs, my pronunciation is pretty good.
You have been credited with playing a role in connecting sports, music and youth lifestyle in US entertainment. Can you contextualise this for us?
Wow. That’s a lofty statement. I got lucky, really. The action-sports culture of skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding became, for me, what my music is to my Pops. It fuels who I am. The creative energy around these sports is something that I decided from a young age I had to be around for the rest of my life. I worked various jobs supporting my ‘habit’ until one day I got a job as an intern/receptionist for the bible of the genre - Transworld Media. Suddenly surrounded by folks of like mind, I embarked on a career in the marketing of the lifestyle, and it found me with a microphone in my hand at various grassroots events and competitions. It was at those grassroots events in the mid 90s that I honed my skills. Soon the mainstream media, eager to capture what they were describing as a new sports phenomenon, started descending on these events like vultures. I was the guy with the mic in his hand, at the right place and the right time. My passion for describing what the athletes were doing got me to where I am right now. Next year I will have been with ESPN and the X Games, which are now a global phenomenon, for 10 years.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 25 May 2008 )