Never too young or old to learn – Sizzla Kalonji - Deejay masters several skills
There is a kind of fire which roars from mega reggae star Sizzla Kalonji when he speaks about the impact and importance of learning. He has spent most of his life deeply engaged in acquiring and mastering various skills, and has no intentions of slowing down.
“The brain doesn’t sleep, and I was taught by all my teachers that I must learn all I can in any way or means, matter not the situation, because one day I’m going to need it,” he told The Gleaner.
Sizzla is currently learning how to play the drums, harp, guitars (bass and acoustic) and the violin, all of which he described as the tools of his profession.
“You never know when you might have to turn your talents into investments one day in order to survive, and it’s also a wise decision to learn an instrument as an artiste, because it helps along the line of duty and makes one more efficient,” he added, before mentioning that he is also heavily involved in music production, farming, construction, and is even pursuing language studies.
“I’ve also managed to secure two machines, one for embroidery and the other for laser screen printing. I’m about to do my own merchandising and possibly help some other artistes in their production and clothing lines,” he expanded.
Sizzla the mechanic
Highlighting that one is never too young or old to learn, Kalonji (given name Miguel Collins) learned welding and fixing crashed cars at the hands of his father, who operates a garage in their August Town, St Andrew community.
“He is an auto body trade person, so from a very tender age I was taught the trade,” he said. “I would make mufflers for cars and sell, I would do stuff on cars no normal little child could do. I was just an active little baby and big persons would look on me like, how can a little child do so much work?”
While attending Dunoon Technical High School, he further explored auto mechanics , and that venture proved beneficial in several ways.
“It kept me out of trouble. I was well occupied fixing at least five cars at the same time and I would make lots of money to take to school to play and share with my friends,” he said. “I’ve worked in almost all the garages at the time, anywhere from Liguanea, Papine, Tavern, Kintyre, Elliston Flats up to August Town, and the list goes on. I even worked at Jeeps (Kingston Industrial Garage) downtown, fixing vehicles for the Jamaica Defence Force, and while there I learnt duco work.”
He revealed that he continued the trade, even after becoming the highly respected ‘Dada’ in Jamaican music, because “that was the breadbasket for the family and I’m so passionate about my trade and after seeing the struggles of my family, that was something my dad taught me so I could survive, and I did. I will never let go of my first skill in making a living to help my parents and family.”
He is challenging everyone to maximise their full potential, and seek to improve themselves through some form of education.
“Vanity will fade, but a good education will never decay,” he said. “Never stop learning. If not you, one day it will help someone, and learning is very much a part of our culture. I thank all my teachers and anyone who has ever taught me something, because I can now make myself a better person in life, and I encourage all the children of Jamaica, the Caribbean, Africa and the world to complete their schooling or whatever studies you are on,” Sizzla declared.
Forming part of his affairs is his Sizzla Youth Foundation, which assists youth in August Town to rise above a life of violence.