I love music because, most times, it provides me with a stable anchor when there are inconsistencies and instability. Music provides me the inner peace and strength with which to navigate the turbulent storms of life. I always remember the slaves that were shipped away from Africa. As they laboured on the Tobacco or Sugar plantations, they sang many songs to keep alive, to restore their inner strength and gain inner peace. Here were people who had been sold into slavery by their own kith and kin. Here are people being crowded into ships and being transported into strange and unknown lands. They have no dream or vision of their destination.
BONEY M, the famous group of yesteryears, rendered what must have been one of their songs. BONEY M sang. “Carried us away in captivity, demand from us a song. How can we sing a song in a strange land?” It must indeed be true. Another version said, “HOW CAN WE SING A KING ALPHA SONG IN A STRANGE LAND?” Really how can persons manacled by foreigners, who treated them in subhuman ways, expected to sing songs in a strange land. Yes, they sang songs among themselves to remember the home they have left, to whip nostalgic feelings that will make them survive the inhuman ordeals to which they were subjected or indeed as a symbol of resistance.
In the apartheid days of South Africa, the Blacks used Music as symbols of resistance against the domestic white tyrants or as symbols of hope of a greater tomorrow. Let me paraphrase one of their songs that I love. “We’re winning, heaven knows that we’re winning, we know we’re. It may be tough we know; and the road may be muddy and rough. But we’ll get there, heaven knows we’ll get there, we know we’ll”. It was a song to strengthen their faith in the righteousness of their cause and to reassure them of inevitable victory.
The reggae Music of West Indies was a product of a rebellion against racism by the white Colonialists. It was an outgrowth of Black Nationalism and/or Pan Africanism, the seeds of which were planted by George Padmore, Marcus Garvey and their fellow thinkers. Peter Tosh was one of such reggae singers. He sang about the urgent need for justice rather than peace. It was clear to him that without justice, there can be no peace. He sang: “Everybody talks of peace, yet none of them talks of justice. I don’t want no peace, but I need equal rights, justice.”
To these ideological minds, you cannot have peace without justice and equal rights. This is what the heavily blinkered African leaders cannot understand. They cannot understand that when their policies marginalise the majority of their people into multidimensional poverty, there can be no peace. Peter Tosh puts it in a clearer form. He sang: “Everyone wants to go to heaven; none of them wants to die”. Of course, how do you go to heaven without dying? How do you get peace in the absence of justice and equal rights?
Jimmy Cliff sang about STANDING IN THE LIMBO. Yes, he could see the multidimensional poor people of Africa standing in a limbo like a bird without a song. How can people who are being pauperized by the day by leaderships, suffering from increasing mental impoverishment, have a song to sing? They can only stand by in limbo and wait for the tide of renewed hope to roll. Unfortunately they are not sure of what the future under renewed hope would bring. They are not even sure of the hopes that are being renewed. Jimmy Cliff sang: “I don’t know what life will show me, but I know what I have seen. I don’t know where life will lead me, but I know where I have been”.
So, their best days are in yesterday. As they move through the shadows of death in the tunnel of stagflation, retarded socio-economic growth, intimidating poverty etc, they have no clear vision of where they are going or what to expect. What they know is that they are being paralysed mentally and physically into a limbo. They wish they can move on, but they see their moral values being debauched. They see the architecture of their economy being destroyed every day. They see their countries being brought down from pinnacle of hope to the abyss of hopelessness, helplessness and voicelessness. Unfortunately they are in a limbo, uncertain of tomorrow….uncertain of what it will bring.
Then I hear the great music ABBA…the great music group that was the number one foreign exchange earner for their country. ABBA had a clear dream bf tomorrow. ABBA had a vision of where they are going or being led to. ABBA had a song, a plan to help them cope with anything. They had a vision that enabled them take the future. They knew the future they are working for.
Yes ABBA sang: “I believe in angels, something good in everything I see. When I believe the time is right for me, 1 / 1 1 cross the stream. I have a dream “. Like Africans, ABBA believed in angels. Unlike Africans waiting for the tide to roll, because they have a vision, ABBA knew when the time is right for them to cross the stream. ABBA further sang “I have a dream, To help me through reality. And my destination makes it worth the while. Pushing through the darkness still another mile…when I know the time is right for me, 1 / 1 1 cross the stream. I have a dream.”
ABA had a destination to which their dream, yes their vision was leading them. They have a vision that would lead them through the contradictions and inanities of their society. They are ready to push more because they know the great things, awaiting them in the destination of their dream. They are sure that their destination makes all the efforts, sacrifices and endurance worth it.
Either as individuals or even countries, do you have a dream? Do you have a destination that you or your country is moving to? Do you know when the time is right to cross the stream? Do you have a dream or vision that will let you take the future? Perhaps what you or your country is doing is just taking a leap in the dark into an unknown and unfathomable tomorrow? If that’s so, DISEMBARK,. YOU ARE ON A WRONG TRAIN.
Sing along with me until next week,
The better days will come,