This is Jay. OG from Rwanda she grew up in France but now lives in Melbourne where she is a professional dancer, model, and manages Melbourne’s poshest rooftop bar as well as Australia’s best cultural event, Sounds of Africa Festival. But first: Rwanda.
BRO my favourite movie was Hotel Rwanda and not just cos Don Cheadle was in Picket Fences.
It was not a good time to be in Rwanda in ‘94. There was cultural genocide going on with the Hutus killing all my people so it was very dangerous to be a Tutsi. My biological mum died when I was 3 years old, and all I know is that my older sister dropped me and her baby son off to an orphanage to take care of us, while she went to find her baby’s daddy just before the genocide.
Um sorry – what? Your sister.. hang on, what?
She signed a paper to say I could be adopted out, but didn’t for her son who she planning to return for. Then one day the orphanage staff asked me ‘Would you like a mummy?” and a bit later, a white lady from France showed up with adoption papers.
Was it weird meeting a stranger who would be your mum?
I was a toddler, and could barely look at her. But when I did, we connected instantly and I became like a second skin on her leg, I wouldn’t leave her side. She got us out just before the 100 days of slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis. My nephew was adopted just in time too, to another family in France. We found out much later that my sister returned to the orphanage to get us again but it was too late. My nephew went back and tried to find her again when he was 24, but never could.
What was it like being the only African in the village?
I grew up in a mountain village in France where there were no other black faces, other than mine and my adopted sisters who were from the Ivory Coast, Mauritius and Kenya – I had two white brothers and two white parents. I didn’t know I was black or looked different until kids showed me on colour charts at school.
You moved to the UK to learn English then 7 yrs ago, waved your family goodbye forever to visit the All Blacks WHY ARE YOU SO DRAMATIC?
I live day to day and don’t project too far ahead, I think it comes from being adopted. I wanted to see where the All Blacks came from, so booked a ticket to NZ and said bye to everyone, not knowing if I would ever come back to France: the plane might crash, I could drown – who knows!? My sisters are still bitter at me for leaving. I’ve only gone back once to visit.
GIVE ME YOUR POSH BAR STORIES NOW
Our guests are everyone from politicians to actors to millionaires to street artists. Kewl stories:
- Dennis Rodman came in 2,000 metres tall, piercings all over, I was like ‘What the heck, I wonder what he will want’. He ordered 12 diet Cokes and chain smoked 10 big fat cigars.
- Pink comes in all the time when she is touring, she is such a kewl person. She loves wine and orders very expensive bottles of red and white – she loves it, it never ends.
- During the Australian Open – the head of the French tennis team / coach – had a 5 course meal downstairs in the restaurant, then came upstairs to the bar and ordered every single thing on the menu, multiple times including desserts. I have never seen anyone eat so much in my whole life.
- A few years ago the winner of the Aus Open Men’s Singles came in as we were closing. He ordered a bottle of champagne to celebrate with his friends and what felt like 2min later, they were all on the floor wrestling like they were 5yrs old, drunk as fck. It was so funny.
- The owner of the horse that won a Melb Cup ordered a huge bottle of champagne but said “no glasses’. I told him “You can’t drink from the bottle, have some manners man!”. He pulled out the actual trophy he had won, filled it and passed it around to every single person in the venue, refilling it up with expensive champagne. Another patron had told me how she hates horse racing and I watched her also drink from it. I went to her and said ‘Oh changed your mind, you like the horse racing now?’ she whispered “I spat in it”. She is my god.
The African music scene is MELB IS THIS SHIZ
The African music scene is taking over Melbourne, Australia and the whole world. Just look at pop and hip hop now: Janet Jackson, Cardi B, Beyonce, Neyo even Idris Elba, all these ppl who had nothing to do with that kind of music are now being influenced by Afrobeats.
Top picks: Moja, Afrocan Days, Black Dynasty Nights (at Spice Market), The Island at Section 8 and of course Sounds of Africa Festival which I manage. All Sprinks should and come and learn about African culture at Ceres on 7th December please!