Vegetarian Elite
Tu Nokwe: Golden Soul and Songstress of South Africa      
Today’s Vegetarian Elite will be presented in Zulu and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Nepali, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Zulu and Thai.

Hey I entered Johannesburg
Where the walls roar Then they greeted me
They said, “Halo, halo”

We are in Johannesburg, South Africa with Tu Nokwe, a very famous performing artist here.

Raised in one of South Africa’s most recognized musical families, it seems fame was written in Tu Nokwe’s destiny. Her father, Alfred, was a renowned jazz and swing musician in the 1950s and 60s, whose name resonates with famous figures like South African President Nelson Mandela. Her mother, Patty, who rose from servant status to become one of the country’s most celebrated mazzo sopranos, has had her life documented in a number of plays and books. Along with her gifted siblings, Tu’s family is affectionately regarded as the Jackson 5s of Africa.

I think I was about 5 years old when I used to hear my mom sing all the time. She was trained as an opera singer and I grew up wanting liking to sing. But it happened that my gift was acting so I was off tune all the time, until my mom agreed to teach me how to sing. We formed a group at home called Black Angels. We performed, every month we’re performing somewhere. So then that’s it, that’s been my life.

Since then, Tu has released several solo albums to much critical acclaim at home and abroad. Her newest album, “African Child,” recorded under her own music label, was awarded “Best Release from Africa” by British world music magazine “Liner Notes.”

She has toured continents like the Americas, Europe, and Africa; performed for corporate, government, and commercial audiences; and has been commissioned to compose, produce, and perform government theme songs, commercial tunes, and children songs for television and radio. Through the rising fame, Ms. Tu Nokwe never forgets to credit the beauty of her Zulu culture.

They say I must go back And ask from the ancestors
They say I must go back And ask from the ancestors

Do you think Africa has a special message of music for the rest of the world?

The special message I can say I see and I feel, it’s a message of sharing. It’s a message of giving without expecting. I know we use music now to make money, but really, really, really it’s just for all artists to jump on stage and share, express your true freedom and share. That’s why when we perform, somehow it’s like something is tickling us. It’s not like a job, it’s something. Something is making you feel good and you want the other person to feel.

So for us it’s like that, it’s a question of the give and take, and I rely on you when you’re sitting out there. When I give you, I want you to take. It gives someone a chance to listen, and it also gives me a chance to open up and express. Last night at the Windybrow Theatre, somebody came and did this on my shoulder, and said “You have done a good job. Look now, the young people are proud to sing African music.”

I mean, he was singing in Zulu all the way. Live performance is actually, that’s where my strength is. I think because of the acting element in me, that helps the music also. That helps when the lyrics is saying a story, I feel like I have shared something. And in a way, I believe since I promised God when I was young I am doing his job. I always feel like God is my CEO, and I have to deliver. So live performance does that for me, because I can do 10 songs, but I know each person would go home with their favorite song and their favorite message.

Wouldn’t you like to be what they all stood for?
Didn’t you like the things they stood for?
Didn’t they try to do some good for you,
some good for me, so we’ll be free.
We’ll find ourselves. So we’ll know ourselves.
So we’ll find ourselves.

Though music has been woven into her life since childhood, Tu considers her first talent as acting. She has garnered roles such as Shaka Zulu’s wife Phatha in the movie “Shaka Zulu,” and has been featured in six theatre productions like “Sheila’s Day” in the US, and “Singing of the Times,” a biographical play that she wrote of her mother’s life. Her plans will lead her to the United States this 2010 year for a reprise of popular theatre work.

I check my mail, a producer in New York, New Jersey, in New Jersey, he has written to me. He wants me to join them in July. I am like, “Wow.” [He wrote,]“Tu, please, can you come to the States and do the show ‘Sheila’s Day’?” I did it 25 years ago, Sheila’s Day. It’s about maids – American maids and South African maids, there are so many similarities there. So we did the show with Letta Mbulu and others, Thuli Dumakude. So I took the job. I had other bookings, but I just thought, “I need the energy of New York, of the US, something there about the arts.”

And something they say about Los Angeles, that it is the City of the Angels. In the way, I want to believe, because the good things, they happen big. So I feel there is something very special about that place, because when I came back in ’92, when I have been there, I came back so fired-up. And I so believe that I have been born now the second part of my life when I begin year one of this golden age.

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mama
what will I be Will I be pretty, will I be rich?
Here’s what my mama said
Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
The future is not ours to see
Que sera Que sera

When we return after this message, Tu Nokwe will share how faith, vegetarianism, and meditation have helped to empower her and provide peace. You are watching Vegetarian Elite on Supreme Master Television.

I wanted to sing beautifully like my mother. In my temple, during the time of strong will, fasting and everything vegetarian, sweets and all, I asked God and I promised God that, “If You can help me…” and I think that was His doing that Bheki came into my life actually. I said if I can be able to sing I can use my voice to heal.

Hi, I’m Tu Nokwe.
Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet.

Welcome back to Vegetarian Elite on Supreme Master Television and our 2-part feature on “Tu Nokwe: Golden Soul and Songstress of South Africa.”

Oh Jamuludi My favorite cow
I don’t know what to do
I don’t know how to save you

Tu shares with us the reason she decided to become vegetarian at such an early age.

When I chose it, it was a time that I was a child. I wanted to have a strong will. I needed to something to help me to be okay, to be grounded. And I read in a book of Paramahansa Yogananda that if you have a strong will, you can do anything in life. And I thought, “Wow, I don’t have to fight. I don’t have to leave the country. I don’t have to pick up a gun and go and fight this thing. So if I can tighten up my back bone and have a strong will, I can be fine.”

But he said, “You must work at it. You must pray for it. You must have discipline.” And I thought, “Ah…” And then there was a suggestion to fast so you can be focused, and ask for something and expect it and wait for it. And then I was praying for that, “Please God, help me. Give me strong will.” So I gave up sweets because I loved sweets. And I did that and I got used to it, it was easy.

And I thought, “What else can I give up?” And I just thought, “Meat.” I was 15 and I stopped eating meat. And my family is a meat-eating family. I thought, “How am I going to do this? I don’t like to cook so I have to learn to cook now.” And I built a temple outside the yard where I was praying all the time. I would hide and light the candle and keep quiet and breathe.

And my mom started helping me, supporting me. She said, “Are you sure you want to do this thing?” I said “Yeah, yeah, I’m praying for something, Ma.” And I just know that my life is like this today, it’s because I made that choice.

To be vegetarian?

Yes. And I actually can even be better. I can even be more powerful if I can meditate more.

Tell me about the power of meditation in your life.

We can be more calmer, you know what I mean? We can deal with each other nicely, we can appreciate each other, we can see more in each other because we’re beautiful. They say we are like God, we’re made in His image, so we must be beautiful. We’re not seeing that in each other.

And I think if we can maybe meditate, you know, meditate. Oh you can do it any time, take 10 minutes now. In the car, sometimes I park it, and I just take that moment. Even if it’s just breathing and imagine what God might look like, and just listen to what He’s given to you. And appreciate and acknowledge that I’m blessed. Most of the times we think about the bank, my bank account, and what’s going to happen if I can’t pay my rent, what’s going to… Can we also make time to think about the stuff we need to appreciate, real stuff; it’s priceless.

We have some young viewers that watch Supreme Master TV. What words of inspiration would you give to them?

Just listen, and also pray like when we are children. When there’s a chance for you to listen, to watch, to go onto Supreme Master Television and other stations that promote positive messages, got to take that time and just listen and pray for help. Say, “God help me. Let me receive this.” Because, yeah, sometimes we need help.

Ask the Almighty to give you wisdom
Wisdom that is deep That is deep

We will be back again next week to join Tu Nokwe here in her Johannesburg home. The brilliant singer-songwriter and actress will enlighten us on Zulu traditions, and share stories about meeting Supreme Master Ching Hai and South African President Nelson Mandela.

Thank you for enjoying our show today on Vegetarian Elite. Coming up now is Between Master and Disciples, here on Supreme Master Television. May kindness, love, and laughter light your life.
Today’s Vegetarian Elite will be presented in Zulu and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Nepali, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai and Zulu.

I also responded and said
Yes hallo, hallo
Oh then I responded and said
Yes hallo, hallo

Last week, we were introduced to Tu Nokwe, the lovely and talented South African singer-songwriter, actress, and vegetarian. Tu was born into one of the country’s most famous musical families, often regarded as Africa’s Jackson 5.

This week, we’re back to discuss her Zulu heritage and her interesting encounters with renowned international leaders, including Supreme Master Ching Hai and South African President Nelson Mandela. During our interview, we noticed that Tu was wearing a unique Zulu headdress:

It looks beautiful.

It does look beautiful, I know, because inside, I feel beautiful. So you’re going to get that from me, you see what I mean?

Oh this place is very pleasant
You know, travelling is good
I arrived there in Johannesburg
Where the walls roar

Despite her worldwide travels and fame, Tu remains devoted to her Zulu roots. On all of her albums, music tracks contain English and her ancestral Zulu language. We asked her:

What does it mean to be Zulu?

Those are very proud people. Those are people who believe they have everything. So they live in a way, in this concept of Heaven, because Zulu means Heaven. So if we can do it in a spiritual way, this pride, it would even have more meaning.

Only love can set us free
Let it rain Brothers and sisters
We all have that pure love
It is like rain
It is like your daddy,
it is like your mommy
Let us open our hearts,
we’ll see the light
Let’s open our eyes

How does music relate to your culture as a woman of the Zulu heritage?

I grew up knowing we were not allowed to open up that much those days, not now. Women were in a way suppressed because they couldn’t maybe raise their opinions, but [it’s] through music that we’re doing it. And you sing, you express yourself, you release. So communication is key. To make things happen, we need to talk about things.

So even if it was they were suppressed those days, they still communicated. And even with communities when people have something to sort out or there is something that has been done that is not right that doesn’t go with the culture they will sing about it. I think music does that for us. It makes communication flow.

Could you share some Zulu wisdom with our viewers? Some wisdom from the Zulu culture?

Okay, sure. You know that I’m going to have to explain this. “Injobo enhle ithungelwa ebandla.” What that means: “injobo” is something very secretive. People before, even now they do it, even in government they organize those imbizos. They go and meet around the tree and talk about the matters of their community.

And if there is something to be corrected, if there’s something that they must come together and work towards, they will just come to imbizo. If there is a wife that’s troubled by something, they’ll come to imbizo; if there’s a man that’s troubled, or a child, they’ll come to imbizo. You will take everything out, even the most secretive things.

They say the most difficult problem that you have take it to imbizo, ebandla, where others are, don’t keep things to yourself. That’s why we get diseases. That’s why we get heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, because we keep things too much to ourselves.

There’s no way that your problem cannot be solved at ebandla.

Yeah, so it’s community wisdom.

Yes. Even if you have a project, you consult with other people. So there’s no way that you’re not going to get good results.

Okay, yeah, the consultation around the ancestral tree.

Yes, yes.

Will this thing come right
If I look back
Really how will it come right
When I slaughter for the ancestor?
They say this thing will come right
When I look towards the ancestor
Really how will it come right
If I destroy a soul

Last week, we learned that Tu had become a vegetarian early on when she was 15. To her, vegetarianism was not only a testament of her compassion for animals, it symbolized a mark of strong will. She learned through reading a book from Paramahansa Yogananda that with strong will and discipline, anything is possible.

Do you find it difficult being a woman of African descent and being vegetarian?

No, actually it’s not difficult. I have my garden now and there are vegetarian shops everywhere. It’s not difficult and it’s quick to cook because you don’t have to overcook it. Just steam or whatever and there’s tasty meals. Like tonight, they’re going to have the tastiest vegetarian meals.

So what recommendation would you give to people in Africa to become vegetarian?

Oh Lord, we can save a whole lot of money. We can feed more people if we can go vegetarian because we’re wasting a lot of our resources with trying to create this meat off it. We can do more. We can get rid of poverty. We can use the soil for what it is for. There’s a lot. You can discover a whole lot that is here on Earth that God has given us.

Worldwide meat production horrifically exploits natural resources and is the number one cause of climate change. Living in Africa, one of the areas most vulnerable to climate change, Tu Nokwe urges all to change these consumption habits that are wreaking devastation on our environment and livelihood.

It’s scary what can happen, and what is already happening. At some point, we’re going to run out of water, at some point. It’s scary, we’re going to start working and get paid by glass; you get a glass of water as your salary.

That’s how bad it can become if we don’t take care of what is given to us. So maybe it’s the language, the way that it’s being taught – something more has to happen. I know people are trying; I saw what Al Gore did. But we must just know within our homes, let’s do something, let’s get more educated, and learn about this.

When we return after this brief message, Ms. Tu Nokwe will share her heart-warming stories from interactions with Supreme Master Ching Hai and South African President Nelson Mandela. You are watching Vegetarian Elite on Supreme Master Television.

Que sera sera,
Whatever will be, will be.
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera
Que sera
Whatever will be, will be

Welcome back to Vegetarian Elite on Supreme Master Television and the conclusion of our feature on South African acclaimed singer-songwriter and actress Tu Nowke. As a member of one of Africa’s elite musical families, Tu is acquainted with prominent world figures, including South Africa’s legendary president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela.

I have had many, many opportunities to meet the president, Nelson Mandela. But the first time I met the former President Nelson Mandela was first in, I think it was in America. And then the second time I met him, it was when we were performing for him here at home, and he came out of our dressing room to greet all of us.

And then he asked me, he held my hand, the first shake, “How is your father?” I was like, “What? You know my dad!” He’s so current. And the third time… Oh, then he came to my daughter, and he said, “You are going to be the next president,” jokingly, but my daughter believes that now, that one day she will be one. So maybe she will be in a leadership position because she cares about what happens in the planet.

She cares about people. She’s full of compassion. She’s the one who ran to Master, when Master came to South Africa. My daughter, her name is Nirvana. I don’t know why I gave her that name, so she’s got a role to play as well.

You’ve met Supreme Master Ching Hai. (Yes.) What was your impression at that meeting?

Oh! That first meeting, my Lord! I happened to be an MC that day, which it was like a shock for me, but it happened. I ended up being there to welcome Master Ching Hai. When she came through, that was really my first meeting, like physical meeting. What a free human being! She’s just comfortably in her own space. I felt like, “Oh, my Lord! I can draw a lot from what I’m seeing.”

And the father of my child, he was one who introduced me to her, he’s passed now, he’s in another Heaven. He just fell down on his knees and he went like this. And Master went to him, she touched his head and she said, “You are also a Christ, my brother. You are also a Christ.” Sometimes some Christians don’t understand the Christ spirit, that Jesus, that we all have it. And when she said that, I was like. “Wow!” I was so relieved, because sometimes we look for something to worship.

And the message of Jesus Christ is so powerful and simple. It’s like what I saw in Supreme Master Ching Hai. So my first impression was simplicity. She made me feel comfortable with myself, that I’m actually okay.

Do you have any message you would like to send to Supreme Master Ching Hai?

Yes. I have a message that I would like to send to Master Ching Hai: My daughter would like to see you again. And I promised her that we will visit some day so she will see you. And another message: I was in my altar the other day, and I have your picture in my altar, and I was just minding my own business, praying for my family.

But all of sudden, I looked at your picture, and I cried for you. And I don’t know whether I was crying because I was missing you, but I just want you to know that somehow, I felt like we don’t pray for you enough. You are doing a lot for the world, and you sacrifice a lot to do the work that you are doing for God. And oh, I want to cry again, but I did on that day, I did pray for you. And but I was crying because I should have been praying for you anyway, you don’t have to do this alone. Thank you, thank you.

Supreme Master Ching Hai warmly replied to Ms. Tu Nokwe: Thanks for your benevolent heart and loving prayers. May Heaven’s love protect you and yours always. You deserve it more. With all my love to you and your beautiful, special daughter. I always remember you both.  CH

Thank you, Ms. Tu Nokwe for singing to life the beauty of the Zulu culture and the respect for all life. May your artistry continue to inspire harmony, hope, and happiness in all who enjoy your works.

Melodious viewers, thanks for being with us today on Vegetarian Elite. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Between Master and Disciples, coming up next. Blessed be your noble deeds and kind heart.

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