The muscular dystrophies (MD) are a group a group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal or voluntary muscles which control movement. The muscles of the heart and some other involuntary muscles are also affected in some forms of muscular dystrophy, and a few forms involve other organs as well.

Some forms of MD are seen in infancy or childhood, while others may not appear until middle age or later. The disorders differ in terms of the distribution and extent of muscle weakness, age of onset, rate of progression, and pattern of inheritance. There are more than 70 neuromuscular disorders, and in South Africa, affects 1:1 200 people.

Jonathan “Tujay Harmonix” Groenewald was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of two. Doctors told his parents he would not live past the age of four, but he defied the odds, and is now 31 years old and carving out a career for himself as a rapper. Born and raised in Rustenburg, where he pioneered the area’s hip-hop movement. He is now resident in Eersterus, Pretoria.

He grew up an introvert and had few friends, but as a teenager he began to jot down his emotions in the form of aggressively charged rap lyrics and poetry – this was a way for him to let go of his negative views on life, he says. His outlet became his passion, which meant he could break out of his shell and publicly express himself at poetry sessions and corner ciphers.

By the time he finished high school his condition caused him to lose mobility and he could not even hold a pen anymore. But that did not stop him from making headway in the very competitive world of hip hop.

He was a member of the group Power of the Taurus. Now known as Tujay Harmonix, he is famed for his thought-provoking lyricism and clever wordplay. He has many accolades to his name, including his ranking as Number Four at the Urban Soul Poetry Slam in March 2009 and a performance at the Eersterust Idols in 2011. He has had two Number One hits on Radio Mafisa.

He has a recognizable voice with identifiable style. Besides being an avid hip-hop head, he’s also an activist for muscular dystrophy and youth development, particularly in Coloured communities.

He says the biggest challenge for him has been “self-acceptance”. Today his music carries a positive message, highlighting the bittersweet nature of an artist with a disability and the human instinct to overcome adversity. “I’m unstoppable,” he says, despite not having the use of his body or even his hands. His goal is that the world will hear his story and be motivated to never give up. “If the sky is the limit, the sun better give me space,” he quips.

About the Author

Andrea Vinassa

Andrea Vinassa

For more information, photographs and publicity material call Andrea Vinassa / Media co-ordinator for Casual Day Cell: 079 089 9835 Landline Cape Town: 021 790 6698 \ Landline Edenvale: 011 609 7006 Email address:

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