The most dangerous thing that exists in the world today is “serious thing”. Oh yes it is! That is the opening of Bunny Wailer’s song ‘Serious Thing’ from his 1988 album Liberation.
The song highlights the most serious things that we tend to overlook. However, what is deemed serious by someone can be taken for granted by the other; so many orphans in the streets, people struggling to earn a living, landlords repossessing items for unpaid rent and failure to afford the basics in life are all very serious things.
Musicians observe what is happening around them that is why their music is relevant. Music enlightens many, relates to people’s aspirations and has such a cathartic effect.
Music’s cathartic effect cannot be trivialised. When the going gets tough, music is always there for one to rediscover that feel-good factor. I enjoyed listening to Bunny Wailer’s ‘Serious Thing’ on Saturday which is surely a reminder that the challenges we face in life are temporary; when you are struggling to put food on the table, someone somewhere has no place to sleep.
And Bunny says sometimes “you to go to your brother to ask for a loan, only to realise that he was heading for your home for the same is a very serious thing.”
But it is not only Bunny who is relevant. Locally, I enjoy listening to the counsel of Joseph Nkasa. When he announced his art on the local music scene, Nkasa endeared himself to so many Malawians although the low point of his career was the glorifying of late Bingu wa Mutharika as the modern day Moses.
But Nkasa, who has been silent since embracing gospel music, remains a thoughtful musician whose music is full of life and, as he rightly claims, full of wise sayings.
There are so many people who believe democracy was the best thing that happened to Malawi after years of little enlightenment. But as Nkasa believes, the change that happened in 1994 is the reason we should get worried.
It is not surprising therefore that ‘Ife ndi a Malawi’ (although the original song liked by Kamuzu was ‘Ife ndi Amayi’) from the album Ma Millionaire is a celebration of the good years that the country had seen before 1994.
Whatever good means could be subjective. Surely there is no one way of looking at things like democracy although a number of development theories favour democracy as a catalyst of change.
In Nkasa’s words, democracy might not be as good as we claim and it is actually the reason our country has moved backwards. He points to the fact that in a democracy, Malawians have become less Malawian and more selfish. Most people disregard the life of the other and are obsessed with self; this can be used to explain why so many people were involved in Cashgate.
The beauty of music is that it preserves the thinking that could be lost. As argued by others, there is too much freedom that has misled people; those who used to work hard cannot do the same today because it is their freedom to do as they wish.
The new-found freedom has compelled so many Malawians to believe that government should provide the services while relegating their role in bettering their own lives.
Going back to the files, there are a lot of pictures one would see of grass-thatched classrooms. The parents usually complain that their children do not have proper classrooms yet all they would need is their hands and time to build new schools.
As Nkasa sings, the freedom gained in 1994 has been misinterpreted. Almost everyone believes that the government should provide the services and the question one asks is ‘what is government?’ Should I think the politicians promise too much during elections therefore the expectations among Malawians become unrealistic? This could be a factor.
However, Malawi is bleeding because the so-called democracy. What we can show for the democracy we are enjoying is corruption which is deep rooted. Indeed, the yester-years – which no-one wants to be reminded of – ziphuphu and katangale kunalibe, sings Nkasa. That is a very serious thing!
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