HAVING survived gender based violence, renowned Namibian artist Taylor Jaye (TJ) has joined the fight against the social ill after launching the First Ladies First initiative in South Africa where she is currently based. Taylor, who is also an actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist, says the initiative will strive to provide victims and anyone who knows GBV victims with knowledge of where they can seek help. In an interview with Confidente (C), the affable Taylor spoke in detail about her flagship initiative, reaching out to other industry creatives to help spearhead awareness as well as her love for painting.
C: Tell us about yourself and your upbringing?
TJ: I was born in Namibia, grew up with my grandmother in Otjomuise while my mom was studying in America. I was raised solely by my mom and grandma. I later joined my mom in America and moved back in time for high school in Namibia. I started doing music when I was six as a rapper. But I quickly changed course after I joined my high school choir and joined the Namibian National Choir. I spent all my high school years involved in the arts from singing to dancing, because I knew it was something that I would one day pursue. After graduating as an Engineer, I decided to do my music full time. I have since been doing that while building my brand.
C: As a musician and actress, what have you been up to?
TJ: Apart from launching FLF this year, I have been releasing a series of singles and music videos from my NAMA Nominated EP. The current single being SATSA. Performing all over Africa, building my label and production company as well mentoring up and coming artists.
C: Tell us about the establishment of the First Ladies First initiative and what it deals with.
TJ: The FLF was launched on 9 August 2018 on Women’s Day in South Africa. It is a flagship initiative that promotes the fight against gender based violence and to tackle these issues the FLF hosted multiple events for the whole month of August bringing in panelists to discuss GBV and share their stories and offer advice while creating a platform of encouragement to victims out there to seek help. We also invited multiple industry creatives alongside me from singers to poets, such as Nadia Nakai, Moonchild Sanelly, Natasha Thahane, to not only come through and share their craft but also share their stories and give advice as women who have great influence on young individuals.
C: Why was it personally important for you to establish the initiative?
TJ: This is important because it is something that I have seen close family and friends suffer from for years. It’s also something that I have experienced. And lastly it’s something that in our current African society has become a critical issue that needs to be stopped by all means.
C: What do you hope to achieve through the initiative?
TJ: I wish to create a platform in Namibia where young women feel empowered. I want to encourage victims of GBV to seek help. I want to provide victims with tools to seek help and break-free from their current situations. I want to empower upcoming female talent in Namibia but also have them lend their voices to empowering victims to seek help by sharing their own experiences. C: What is lined up and what can people expect from the initiative?
TJ: The initiative strives to be educational in providing victims and anyone who knows GBV victims with knowledge of where they can seek help whether it be from legal advice to emotional counselling. It also aims to serve as a platform to empower young women by creating a platform where known females speak about their thoughts on GBV and encourage those going through it to seek help because one of the biggest factors of GBV victims is seeking help or speaking up because of fear that society will ridicule them. However, with this platform we want women to know that it’s ok to speak out and we have their back.
C: As a woman, what is your take on the increase of Gender Based Violence?
TJ: My take on it is that it has always been there but previously there wasn’t social media for it to easily become public knowledge. I also think that there is a rise because in modern times more and more women are becoming empowered and highly independent which for a lot of men is still a problem. And that usually leads to insecurities that play themselves out in a violent manner. I’m not saying that GBV only happens to women but it also happens to men. However, the numbers are higher amongst women.
C: What do you think can be the solution?
TJ: The solution for GBV isn’t a straightforward answer because it is a deep rooted issue that stems from psychological issues that individuals face. But I think a few things can be done to start working towards stopping it or aiding potential victims. For example empowering victims and informing them that they have safe places to voice what they are going through is a start. The main reason why a lot of people tolerate abuse until the point where it’s too late is because they feel like they will be judged and ridiculed by society. This has to stop.
C: What has life taught you that you wish to share with others?
TJ: Life has taught me to go after what you love and enjoy no matter what anyone says because it’s you that will end up regretting it when you look back. I try on a daily basis to enjoy my life and go after what I want. If people tell me it’s impossible I try even harder.
C: Tell us something that many people do not know about you.
TJ: Many people just think that I’m only a musician but don’t know that I’m a qualified Engineer with a Bachelor’s Degree.
C: Just what do you do for a little fun when not doing music?
TJ: When I’m not doing music I enjoy watching Sci-Fi movies and reviewing them. I also paint whenever I have free time.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015