The life story of Wickes Nortje sounds like something scripted for a movie. From humble beginnings, growing up in Rustenburg and being declared blind by the age of 5, to travelling the country spreading the Gospel via his music and being the visual and programming expert at the free-to-air television channel, Kruiskyk. It has never been smooth sailing for the father of one. “But we were never promised smooth sailing to begin with”, says the small man with the stellar voice. Being a humble man the most difficult thing was to get him to acknowledge that he has a powerful voice and smooth fingers across the piano.
At age 5 Wickes developed a stye in his eye and after running multiple tests it was discovered that he was permanently blind. Life changed dramatically for Wickes and he was sent to Prinshof School for the visually impaired in Pretoria. “It was difficult”, Wickes recalls, “all I wanted to be was normal, to have friends and ride a bike.” Making friends was a difficult task for a young blind child so Wickes found himself spending most of his time at the church next to the house he grew up in. It was here that Wickes learnt to play the piano and where his love for music and Jesus Christ developed.
Once was blind
Wickes recalls that from a young age it was his dream to be behind the camera, recording and editing footage for television. Being blind though, he feared it was something that he would never achieve. This all changed at one miraculous Passover service, where Wickes’s sight was restored. He was twelve years old and had been blind for seven years. “It was a monumental moment in my life, I had a huge backlog because I couldn’t read or write but that did not stop me from pursuing my dreams”.
“Apart from music and singing visual technology has always been my passion, but I never thought that I would get an opportunity to work in this field. I am very thankful to be employed by a company that spreads the Gospel through television and music and I’ll be forever grateful towards Clemens Mans for giving me an opportunity when no one else would”. When speaking to some of his colleagues at Kruiskyk it is little surprise that he was given the opportunity. “I find that Wickes often picks up on discrepancies in the quality of the picture that I can only see once we zoom into that specific area”, says Impak producer and presenter Eon De Bruin. “He truly is a professional and an absolute pleasure to work with.
It did not take long for Kruiskyk founder Clemens to discover that Wickes is a mountain of hidden talents and plans were soon made to record Wickes’ first album through the Kruiskyk independent label. The album was a resounding success among the free-to-air channel’s viewers and Wickes has found himself living all of his life passions at once. When he is not doing quality control at the Kruiskyk studio he is travelling the country, spreading the Gospel wherever God leads him. “It has never been about me, I just feel humbled to be able to do what I do, and wherever God leads me to be is exactly where I want to be”.
What the future holds
Wickes once again reaffirms his passion for the Gospel by saying that he would love to release a second album and has been working on some songs, but he is insists that he will wait on the Lord before he goes ahead with anything. “I have many dreams for the future, but it is not about me, the Lord will determine what happens next for me.” On messages for people that feel led to share the gospel Wickes shares the following; “Always be yourself and be true; the Gospel is a message that inspires, that is the message we should carry over to our audiences. There needs to be a flaming passion in our hearts to unite the church, we are the bearers of light in a dark world.” And if there was one piece of advice he could give himself 10 years ago? “Take more chances and trust in the Lord.”