Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why Lucky Dube Is Turning In His Grave

Why Lucky Dube is turning in his grave

Thursday, 25 October 2012 00:00
Abel Dzobo Features Writer
Zimbabwe Herald

LAST Thursday was the fifth anniversary of iconic South African reggae musician, Lucky Dube’s death. Dube was gunned down in a carjack attempt at the age of 43.

Born on August 3 1964 and with 22 albums under his belt, Dube won a plethora of regional and international awards. A great fighter against apartheid and racism, and after independence, crime and corruption in South Africa, crime ironically claimed his life.

But many things have happened ever since, the most recent being the Marikana massacre.

This saw 34 strikers gunned down by South African police in Marikana as they demanded a pay rise.

But what would Lucky Dube say about such a massacre?

Lucky Dube believed in peace and harmony, and the sacredness of human life.
And be it the police or miners, all are victims as depicted in Dube’s song “Victims”.

But little did he know that, Eventually the enemy, Will stand aside and look, While we slash and kill, Our own brothers, Knowing that already, They are the victims of the situation.

Was the strike justified? The issue of empowerment of the indigenous people is getting topical by the day on the African and Latin American continents. The South African miners wanted an increase in their salaries, which were way below the Poverty Datum Line.

Also, instead of handouts, they wanted to become masters of their own destinies, that is, through running the economy itself. Lucky Dube captures this in the song “Hungry Free Man” off the album “Taxman”.(1997)

What is the point in being free, When you can’t get no job, What is the point in being free, When you can’t get food, What is the point in going out to work, When others can get for free, What is the point in being free, When you don’t have no home, Do you wanna be, A well fed slave or a hungry free man?

Black South Africans were discriminated against during apartheid. They could not go to school, as Dube sings in “Slave, 1989”, which is also the title of the album.

They won’t build no schools anymore, All they’ll build will be prisons, prison.

But since a majority government in 1994, government has invested much into education, building schools and according to the School Realities Report (2011) South Africa has 25 851 schools. However, the majority of South Africans are not learned, with a meagre 88 percent literacy rate and sitting at number 144 in the world, according to the United Nations Development Programme (2011) report.

Though Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was launched by the government to redress the inequalities of apartheid, giving previously disadvantaged groups (black Africans, Coloureds, Indians and some Chinese) employment preference, skills development, ownership, management, socio-economic development, and preferential procurement, few blacks can utilise it.

Lucky Dube pulls no punches, South Africans just have to go to school, as in the song “Affirmative Action” off the album “Trinity” (1995).

You blamed it on apartheid, You blamed it on the government and everybody, Now is the time to prove yourself, Constitution can be changed, But that does not mean that, You don’t need no education, We are tired of people who, Think that affirmative action is the way out, And, is another way of putting puppets, Where they don’t belong.

So the strike was justified, but not attacking policemen. Just by staying at home, the miners would have ensured zero productivity, and the Lonmin management would have been forced onto the negotiating table.

But the miners armed themselves with guns, spears, knives and knobkerries and advanced on the police details. They had even killed two policemen days before. In the song “Crime and Corruption”, off the album “The Way It Is” (1999), Dube blasts government for doing nothing when police officers are gunned down in broad daylight.

Policemen get killed everyday, And you say it is not that bad, Maybe if you see it through the eyes, Of the victims, You will join us and fight this, Crime and corruption.

Then comes the issue of consulting a traditional healer, a sangoma. Is it part of South African culture? Dube says its normal for South Africans to consult a sangoma in the song “Julie Julie” off the album “The Other Side” (2003).

He lives up on the mountain, They say he mixes herbs,Throws the bones, tells the future, I’m on my way right now, I wanna know about my future, With a girl named Julie.

Unlike Nigerian movies that vilify traditional healers, Dube defends them in the song “Julie, Julie”.

Some people call him a witchdoctor, But how can he be a witch and a doctor at the same time?

Nonetheless, the belief that the sangoma’s medicine could turn bullets into water is something Dube would have scoffed at. It last happened in 1905, the Maji Maji Rebellion of Tanzania as they fought German colonialists.

A spirit medium named Kinjikitile Ngwale claimed to be possessed by a snake spirit called Hongo and began calling himself “Bokero”.

The bullets never turned into water, so the Tanzanians were defeated. So for the South African miners to repeat the mistake of 1905 is mind-boggling. Maybe as they say, “history repeats itself”. Dube sings in the song “Crazy World” off the album “House of Exile” (1991).

But we don’t know what tomorrow brings, In this crazy world, People dying like flies every day, You read about it in the news, But you don’t believe it.

Despite South Africa having a black government, still the policemen and miners were gunned down. This ties in with Dube’s song, “My Brother My Enemy” off the album “Trinity” (1995).

I’m a living witness, now I know that . . .Not every black man is my brother, Not every white man is my enemy.

So to political spin doctors and the media, it is all about numbers. Incumbent South African President Jacob Zuma will be under fire come Mangaung, and fired youth leader Julius Malema will be in the control room, playing and replaying the Marikana figures — 38 miners, two policemen, 78 injured. But to Lucky Dube in the song “Number in the Book” on the album “The Other Side” (2003), the dead are not mere statistics but loved ones who will leave indelible scars on the surviving.

Every number, represents a human being, Who was a father, who was a mother, A son or a daughter of this land . . . oh.

Forty men died during the Marikana massacre, leaving behind women to take care of the children. Dube captures in the song “God Bless the Women” on the album “Trinity” (1995).

She prayed for her children, She prayed for their education,Then she prayed for the man, That left her with her children.We, praise heroes everyday, But there are those that we forget To praise, The women of this world.

So Lucky Dube had the last words, Respect is the golden virtue. If the Lonmin Mine management respected the miners, then there would never have been a strike. If the striking miners respected the police, they would not have attacked them. They would not have looked for a sangoma to turn bullets into water.

The miners would not have been shot.

Respect is Lucky Dube’s last album (2006) and the title track goes like:
Respect me, for who I am, And not what I am, Nobody even cares about your dollars, Nobody even cares about your bling bling, Five love to those who give you love, Love to those who give you war. Love those who hate you, Bless even those who curse you, Show me show me respect.

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