No parties in SA – Bey
“No more parties in SA, please / No more parties in SA.” That was the opening line of a forlorn farewell track posted this week by US rapper and actor Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, on the website of his good friend Kanye West.
But City Press established this week that Bey did not do much partying in South Africa at all.
Those who knew him in Cape Town say he led a quiet and “mellow” life, mainly spent tucking into organic food and homeschooling his children.
Bey’s favourite Cape Town eatery is a vegan restaurant called Plant, which stocks unusual delicacies such as “mushroom biltong”.
Inside the restaurant, with its herb-covered walls and world muzak, staff said his preferred meal was spicy mushroom rolls (R68) – described on the menu as “delicate rice paper rolls filled with buckwheat noodles, spicy exotic mushrooms, avo, ginger and cashews” – and “red juice” (R38) made of apples, beetroot and ginger, served in a tall glass bottle.
Before he was kicked out of South Africa, Bey was also kicked out of the five-star Pepperclub Hotel in central Cape Town for not paying his bills.
Gareth Berrill, a spokesperson for Solomon Brothers Property Holdings, which owns the hotel, confirmed that Bey, his wife, Maieve, his mother, Sheron, and four children stayed there for a year.
“He was asked to leave as he owed the hotel a sum of money, which was later paid,” said Berrill.
The family never ate at the hotel because not all the food there is halaal. “They were very healthy and organic. His wife was always drinking takeaway juices and smoothies from the vegan restaurant down the road,” said a source at the hotel.
An employee described Bey as “mellow”, adding he did not welcome fans approaching him for photographs in the hotel’s foyer.
Apparently, his children were being home-schooled – and his eldest daughter had been thinking of enrolling at the University of the Western Cape.
The employee said she felt sorry for Bey’s children. “They were sweet, running around the hotel. I greeted them every morning.”
She added the kids were keen skateboarders and often headed to the Gardens skate park.
The Pepperclub Hotel, with its heavy velvet drapes, has hosted several Cape Town International Jazz Festival artists over the years, including Hugh Masekela and Lauryn Hill. In November it was home to veteran British crooner Engelbert Humperdinck.
After leaving the hotel, Bey and his family moved into a flat in Sea Point, where he now has to report to police twice a day as part of the bail conditions issued by the Bellville Magistrates’ Court last Friday.
Bey was arrested for trying to leave South Africa on a so-called world passport last Thursday.
The department of home affairs found members of his family were in the country illegally too, and ordered that they leave within 14 days. Bey must remain for his next court appearance on March 8.
In his 10-minute recorded message to the world, Bey (42) lashed out at South African authorities.
“Why they (sic) raiding my place? I don’t feel safe. I committed no crime. Why is the state wasting my time?
“I have reasons to suspect there are political motivations behind the way I am treated. “I am grateful I haven’t been physically harmed. “All I seek is to leave this state. I won’t sue for damages. I just want to go home.”
He ends off by saying that he will retire from the music industry after releasing one last album later this year.
Bey and his family moved to Cape Town in May 2013. At the time, he said he was in South Africa to sort out his life.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian in 2014, he said: “Last year May, I came [to Cape Town] and I said I’m not leaving. I’m staying. It’s a beautiful place. It has the ocean, mountain, botanical gardens and beautiful people. I got the vibes to be here and now I’m here. It’s amazing and it’s crazy.”