From Lentegeur to New York, author shares culture and inspiration

Lentegeur actor and first-time author Moeniel Jacobs at his book launch on Wednesday July 26.

A Lentegeur actor and first-time author has released his book called Rosa in New York.

A man who wears many hats in the arts industry, Moeniel Jacobs, 46, started writing the book in 2015, after he and the Young Cape Malay Stars choir group performed in New York in 2014.

“As I penned down this journey, telling the story of how 15 guys from the Cape Flats got to sing at Carnegie Hall, New York, it was surreal,” he said.

Mr Jacobs and the Malay Choir also performed their show at the Baxter Theatre, as well at the KKNK festival, he said.

He released his book on Wednesday July 26 with some of the industry greats, friends and family as well as a pop-up meet on Saturday August 5 and Saturday August 12.

Mr Jacobs reads an excerpt from his new book on Wednesday July 26.

Before releasing the book, Mr Jacobs struggled with his health while his wife, Fazlin Jacobs, is fighting cancer.

Finding a publisher who supported his idea was another challenge.

Mr Jacobs started saving money to self publish the book.

Losing loved ones gave him another reason to pursue the book which was so close to his heart, he said.

He has worked with many young people in community who have seen their dreams crushed and opportunities taken from them, he said.

“I wanted to tell my story of how a matriculant from Cedar High School of Arts, with no formal training in music, got to produce his own musical production and present it on the biggest musical stage in the world,” he said.

Being able to work with some of the legends in the Cape Malay Choir fraternity was all the inspiration he needed as he felt obligated to show the world their culture.

Cape Malay Choir legends Hassiem Jansen, Eesa Mohammad, Mogammad Leeman, Aziz Adams, Dr Taliep Petersen, Armin Abrahams and his father Abdullah Jacobs, to name a few, were the inspiration for his book.

He also wanted to leave a legacy for the next generation like his son Mueed Jacobs (“Lentegeur teen stars in TV show” Plainsman May 13 2020).

The Cape Malay choral culture is based on music that was created by slaves. “Our forefathers and mothers being slaves to Dutch owners, they had to learn the culture of their owner but mixed it with that of their own,” he said.

“This not only gave birth to the Afrikaans language but also to some of the beautiful sounds that you still hear today,” he said.

The Dutch Folk songs were a fusion of Arabic quarter tones infused with the western choral format. Rosa is a love song of a young girl and man who is asking for her hand in marriage; it is also seen as the Cape Malay “national anthem” that’s sung at most weddings as well as every choral competition. And they got to sing Rosa in New York city.

Mr Jacobs said the book’s readers will feel different emotions as it speaks about opportunities, what to do when doors are closed, and “creating your own doors to walk through.”

“Nine years ago, being part of the Malay Choir, we experienced many things. I hope people will feel motivated and inspired. You can achieve your dreams no matter how old you are,” he said.

He still had goals after returning from New York. Mr Jacobs also played a villain on the show Melody on SABC 2.

Moegamad Zieyaad Hattas, executive cast member in the show, said he relived the days they sang together through the book.

“It reminded me of the wonderful memories as well as challenges we faced prior to us leaving but the book is a memoir of a lifelong journey we undertook as 15 guys going to New York,” he said.

“This book has the opportunity of showing people that once you put your mind to something, nothing and no one can stop it that you can dream big with the right community. Thanks to the sacrifices of our friends and family. I wish Moeniel all the success on this book,” said Mr Hattas.

“I would like to thank everyone who supported me as well as the trip, especially my wife, my mother and my two children, Mueed and Tharwah Jacobs, thank you for everything,” he said.

More writers are needed, said Mr Jacobs. “We need our people to tell their stories and to be unapologetic about it. You might not get a publisher and you might not get rich and famous but you will leave a legacy behind and a story etched in black and white. I would encourage all our youth to start telling their stories and sharing their journey,” he said.

The book can be ordered via WhatsApp on 083 327 5462.

Rosa in New York is written by actor and first-time author Moeniel Jacobs from Lentegeur.