Saturday, April 3, 2010
Have we healed our souls in Kenya? Our Land?
Song... and freedom, 2nd April 2010
In the days of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, song was key and many songs were sang by the people and also by musicians. I am listening to one of them just now in Amandla and the singer is saying, "The song says we have washed the land and this is what we have been doing for so long?
All countries that have experienced much bloodshed and my Dear Kenya has, and others will not immediately and suddenly be non-violent places. I smile when a CNN journalist interviewing a local one In Cape Town asks about violence today, you know, just before the World Cup and none of the two remember that the high expectation of the world that there be no violence in South Africa is unreasonable. Glad the local journalist said that this is what is portrayed in the media.. South Africa as a violent place but she failed to ask or comment that to expect no violence in South Africa after her prolonged struggle is strange but there we go!
Nonetheless, the thread here is that South Africans have really worked at all levels for peace and against injustice! It is true that shamefully racism is not over and what used to read "No blacks" may easily have turned into the polite "Management reserves the right of admission, " the kind of discrimination which is acceptable all over the world, but our sisters and brothers in the South did a wonderful thing with song and spirit in that land!
I often long for that kind of singing to sweep my country Kenya also and to cleanse it! I find that when it comes to national song we are not strong! We have a beautiful tune in our national anthem but many feel that the beautiful words to which it is set have been abused by politicians for too long! And somehow that it does not belong to us. Just recently, some Kenyans pointed out that the Kiswahili version is actually a different song so that it would seem we are not united even in this song! Kenyans sing a lot and everyday there are new secular musicals as well as perhaps to many gospel ones. But the thing is since the murder of J.M. Kariuki in 1975, I have not heard music that questions status quo or even proudly asserts our struggle for human rights, and justice and all else!
I must say we have sang! Indeed we were arrested in 2007 in August because we were singing our liberation song which not too many Kenyans know.. we were singing we will not kneel down to oppressors and killers.. Sophie Dowallar fo the 5Cs with Diana, have kept a small civil society group of singers going. We sing well when together and this should become part of the national music scene but the group struggles for support. This is what makes miss the singing of others...Well, maybe they exist in our various languages but we need to meet in Kiswahili. If nobody had sang a la Hugh Masekela , Bring back Nelson Mandela.. what a gap there would be! But also we saw it in Sarafina and other places that South Africans sang freedom back to their land! I love the women who sing to the terrible Vervoed.. you can hear this on Amandla! South Africa has always inspired me to think much more is possible! So much more in Africa. I love the country and the people and their languages! I hope as Xenophobia once reared its head that South Africans will not allow themselves to leave out the rest of Africa! Or not to feel part and parcel of one another.