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​​Joburg has 'Africa in it'​
download (12).jpgOne of the few people who flies the South African flag from a flagpole in her garden, singer PJ Powers says she wouldn't live anywhere else but in Joburg, which has "Africa in it"

Living​ in Joburg is like being "part of the world", in comparison to a city like Cape Town, which doesn't have "enough Africa in it", says popular soul and pop singer PJ Powers.

Like many Joburgers, Powers can't see herself living anywhere else in South Africa - Durban is "too parochial", Capetonians are "too full of themselves", whereas Joburgers are "incredibly friendly and cosmopolitan".

"We don't have a mountain or the sea but we have so much more," she says of Joburg. Being in the city gives one a "sense of living and being together", she adds. Joburgers are self-sufficient and "rely on themselves". Anyway, the sea is just a short journey away, she adds.

Powers has been in the music business and in Joburg for 25 years, and except for a spell of two months in Barclays Bank in Durban, at the behest of her father who felt she could do better than become a singer, she has "never done anything else" and wouldn't consider doing anything else.

Powers, born Penelope Jane Dunlop in Durban in 1961, went into show business in 1981, forming a rock band called Hotline. She was the lead singer and remained with them for nine years, finally branching out on her own in 1990.

But in 1988 her career took a slightly different course when she was banned from radio and TV for a year, her "crime" being a performance at a charity concert for war orphans in Zimbabwe, together with Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte.

"It was a terrible period," she says, "I was persona non grata." She was encouraged to continue by Nelson Mandela, who sent her an encouraging letter from Victor Verster Prison in Cape Town.

In 1995, she had a hit on the UK charts, together with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with the song World in Union which she sang at the opening of the Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg for an audience of millions from around the world.

In the '90s her music took on a more Afro-pop focus, finding a receptive audience in the black market, and she took on the nickname Thandeka, "the loved one".

Some of her biggest hits like Jabulani she wrote herself, together with Feel so strong, You're so good to me, There is an answer, and Home to Africa, reflecting her patriotism. She also wrote an 85th birthday song for Nelson Mandela, which she sang for him and guests like Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, at his party in 2003.

She's one of the few people who flies the South African flag from a flagpole in her garden. Her patriotism and resilience have been recognised by others. She was recently appointed a South African Tourism Ambassador, one of a dozen appointments made, to promote the country locally and abroad. In June 2003 the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation honoured her and singer Sibongile Khumalo with their prestigious annual award, promoting reconciliation by "singing people together". And in September 2003 food chain Pick 'n Pay nominated her as one of their "Stars of Charity" for having "made a difference in uplifting the youth of South Africa".

She considers herself to be "very blessed in this country, I've had incredible support", a good deal of which she attributes to her black supporters.

The key to her success? "I haven't taken myself too seriously. I have refused to take on the negative stuff in the country, only the positives."​