Until last Thursday, the closest I have come to celebrity encounters is attending the same high school as Neil Patrick Harris (he graduated the year I was born). In this edition of crazy-things-that-happen-to PCVs, I actually had celebrities show up 500 meters from my house.
Come to South Africa right now and you will hear a song called “Shumaya” by Dbn Nyts (Durban Nights). It is on adverts, blasted on taxis, and it is my host brother’s choice of music to stream throughout the compound. Honestly, I do not mind as I embrace the “Shumaya” craze. “Shumaya” was just taking off when SA 31 arrived in country. We danced an improvised version of the electric slide with our language teachers at a gathering during PST. South Africans also like music interludes between speakers at events, and at our host family farewell the Masters of Ceremonies played pieces of it often. I actually did some folklorico to “Shumaya” to entertain the crowd while my host aunt (who has a disability left from a childhood bout with polio) and my 90 year old gogo meandered towards the stage for PCSA’s appreciation certificate.
At the Municipal World AIDS Day event, my organization is not on the agenda (first sign we were not giving a speech) but at the end of the program is: Entertainment- Durban Nyte (Shumaya). I thought the DJ would blast “Shumaya” and there would be a community dance party (which I was so down for). After the Mayor finishes her speech and the Local AIDS Council lights the commemorative candle, we go back to our seats. I see a new DJ with a shirt that says Dbn Nyts (the actual name of the band). Then 5 men sporting red shirts, black pants, and red shoes walk on to the stage. Impressive but I thought it was a local group impersonating the band, even though they performed the rapping parts very well. They sing 4 songs and I discovered that the 4 other songs that I hear repeatedly in taxis and Duke City are also by Dbn Nyts) when “Shumaya” starts as the 5th song. The mayor joins in for the last half of the dance and that was my confirmation that I was really watching a live show of Dbn Nyts. If it was not the real band, the mayor would have remained seated. Watching a politician sort of dance to the current music frenzy of South Africa’s youth was…an experience. The only way I can describe it is try to picture Donald Trump attempting to do the Whip/Nae Nae (which is also popular here). Right after “Shumaya” the band ran off, presumably to their next engagement.
The show was an absolute political gamic and the boys were too cool for their fans. Yet I got a free show and great story to tell from my South African PCV experience (I have”Shumaya” on video as proof this actually happened). The ironic part about this was I considered attending a Drbn Nytes concert while I was in Pretoria, but it was expensive and at night. I got a free daytime concert in my dinky municipality without trying!
I needed to brag to people who would understand about my encounter, so I messaged SA 31’s Northern KZN crew on What’s App about the gathering with a photo of the band. The SpEd responded with “Cool I did not know they were a boy band.” Of course the youngest woman in SA 31 would inadvertently share her experience with a boy band. I swear I am not one of those boy band crazy tweens (sans a Backstreet Boys fixation when I was 6).
All the best,
PS: If you are interested, these are the lyrics to “Shumaya”. Typical of South Africa you can see isiZulu, English, and Afrikaans words in one song. Still trying to translate the actual meaning of the song. Also “Shumaya” is actually a word from Nigeria. If anyone has ties to Nigerian cultures and can actually help me figure out what it means, I would be obliged.