Friday, October 19, 2007

'Victims': Lucky Dube's Voice Echoed the Pan-African World

Victims: Lucky Dube's Voice Echoed the Pan-African World

South African reggae icon will be remembered by people around the globe

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

Editorial--I found out early this morning after turning on the television that one of my hero's, Lucky Dube, was shot dead last night in Rosettenville, South Africa, in what has been described as a botched carjacking attempt.

Dube was dropping off his two children at his brother's home when witnesses say he was attacked. He jumped into his vehicle and later crashed as a result of the severity of his gunshot wounds. He soon died at the age of 43.

Lucky Dube spoke volumes to the oppressed peoples of southern Africa, the continent as a whole, the pan-african world and the international community in general. He symbolized during the latter years of apartheid the struggle for national liberation. His lyrics and music conveyed both the sadness and recurrent hope of the masses to be free of oppression and degredation.

Although this is a sad day for music lovers and supporters of human rights, self-determination and social justice around the world, we should also be encouraged by the fact that Dube was able to rise above his immediate conditions in apartheid South Africa to become a voice for the oppressed and struggling peoples there and throughout the globe.

We were privileged to have been able to listen to his music that came through on 20 different albums. This writer was even more fortunate to have seen Lucky Dube in concert in 1995 in Detroit at the Majestic Theater located on Woodward Avenue. This was one of the most memorable occasions of my cultural life.

When we heard that Lucky Dube was going to be in town I rushed to purchase tickets for the concert. This writer, and a woman colleague, who is from Southern Africa, made arrangements to attend the show. It so happened that a conference we were attending in downtown Detroit had participants from all over the country. A former co-worker from West Africa contacted me to let me know that a friend of her's, who is originally from Jamaica, was in town at the conference. She suggested we connect with this Caribbean-American sister to give her a tour of the city.

I immediately suggested that she attend the Lucky Dube concert with us that evening. She did attend and was pleasantly surprised and pleased with what she had heard. After the show she told us that Dube played reggae better than anyone she had heard from outside of Jamaica.

Reggae became the international medium to express the pan-african struggle for civil rights, human rights, black power, social justice and self-determination. It is quite obvious that Dube's mixture of South African township's popular melodies with roots reggae struck a chord on the continent and later throughout the planet.

Dube joins a long list of great black male artists who utilized their enormous musical talents and personal magnetism and charisma to transcend the social conditions they had been subjected to as a result of racism, capitalism and world imperialism. Those artists who have joined the ancestors over the last four decades automatically come to mind.

Dube was in the same category with creative artists and composers such as Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Arthur Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, to only name a few. These men who have left their physical existence on earth still live through creative music and captivating images. All were unique personalities who had profound statements to make to their own people and the world.

Dube's lyrics covered a wide range of social issues: racism, sexism, class struggle, domestic abuse, problems of love and marriage, self-identity, pan-africanism, abortion, and of course crime. Even though preliminary reports indicate that his death may have been a random act of violence and attempted theft, we will have to wait for the results of a full investigation by both the authorities and journalists in South Africa.

On his album entitled,'Victims', which was released in 1993 on the eve of South Africa's transition to an African National Congress (ANC) led democracy, the artists noted that:

"Bob Marley said
How long shall they kill our prophets
while we stand aside and look
But little did he know that
eventually the enemy
will stand aside and look
while we slash and kill
our own brothers"

Yet his overall theme was one of struggle. On the same above-mentioned album 'Victims', Dube in the song entitled
'Soldiers of Righteousness' proclaims:

"Soldiers for righteousness
We fight against tribalism
We fight against oppression
We fight against corruption
We fight against racism
We fight against apartheid
We are the men your mother
warned you about little boy
We are the men your oppressive father told you about
We are the soldiers for righteousness
and we are not sent here
by the government that pays,
and we are not sent here
by the politicians you drink with
We're sent by the poor
We're sent by the suffering
We're sent by the oppressed".

These words stand as a testament to the struggle for independence, freedom and social justice. These lyrics will live forever in the hearts and minds of the oppressed. Therefore, Lucky Dube will continue in song and spirit to encourage the peoples of the world to stand for what they believe and to transcend their oppression in order to win their victories over adversity.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

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