Joe Niemand joined us for a songwriting retreat at in Harmonie. He describes in Harmonie as a place that boasts a beautiful setting with a special connection for him. “It’s been an opportunity to refocus and unplug in the most tranquil, peaceful setting.” He continues, “when I hear harmony, I hear music. You can’t harmonise with something if you don’t have the root note. That is the essence of harmony and disharmony. And if you aren’t in harmony with God, you cannot be in harmony with anybody else.”
What are some of the opportunities you had growing up?
“I don’t know if I chose music or music chose me.” Joe believes that music is a medium that cuts through so many things. It can connect people on a personal level. “My music is very personal to me; it’s an instrument that I use to connect people to music and the God behind the music.” He continues, “from a very young age, I was exposed to choir music. My older brother sang in the Drakensberg Boys Choir, and it was my dream to sing in the choir as well. By the time I reached primary school, the Border Region Choir was created in the Eastern Cape, and I became the soloist at 10 years of age. In those years, it was choir for me in the afternoon and the evening. And that has been the backbone of my musicality.”
What are some of the challenges we face as a nation?
Niemand believes that the biggest challenge is our unity: “where there is unity, God commands blessing”. He says, “the fact that our unity is under attack, it’s quite an obvious place to come at us.” Joe believes that we need to forgive, not just other people but ourselves too. “We need to keep our eyes on God and operate in His will. I think that the future is very bright. I know that there are a lot of people that are very negative, fearful and there are a lot of harsh realities in our country. But the Lord is still good.” He advises that we try not to get overwhelmed by how big the challenges are.
To overcome these challenges, Joe believes that we need to see the need but not to operate out of need. “The best thing I can do for myself, for our country and for Him is to find His will for me today. I need to find the place He wants me to operate from. Once I am there, He can use me.” He believes that it’s about doing a lot of small things every day that will make a more significant difference in our community.
What are your words of encouragement for those in need of hope?
“Hope has a name, and ‘hope’ is Jesus. If you can find Jesus or allow yourself to be found by Him… and if you can hold onto him, you can find peace. Despite our circumstances and challenges. That is the only peace on earth we can experience and share with people. And I hope to do that with people.”