By Dele A. Sonubi
The news came to me as indeed a whole generation of people around the world, that the great musical icon MJ died. It was a pleasant morning and I was just preparing to settle down to the day’s work when I heard. I screamed and screamed and screamed until someone told me that the louder I screamed would not change the news. I swallowed the news and remained shocked for many days after.
On the afternoon of the second day of MJ’s death, I got glued to the CNN tv channel and watched as every program CNN broadcast that day carried the news of the demise of the great musical Icon. It was actually Richard Quest, one of CNN’s vibrant happy-to-be-a-journalist, who, at life coverage of one of the funeral scenes made me realise that actually, not many younger generations living today would remember the days when MJ hit the screen in a huge magical sweep. Everyone irrespective of their musical divides, love MJ, his videos, his music, his shows and the fact that he became the king when the vacuum became vacant since the demise of Elvis Precesly. I am part of the generation that grew up with the “Off the Wall” as it hit the screams, blasted the speakers, turned radio presenters into heroes and music DJs into favourites of parties and events. I grew up in the sixties and had remained glued to the rhythms and blues of the mid-70s into the late 80s. Those were the days when music made sense, when one would analysis a song stanza and ran wild with one’s interpretations of that stanza, or one would hear a note from the guitar and run fingers through the hair in appreciation of pure art at its crescendo. That was the great era of sensible rhythms. The songs of the new generation of singers are noise makers in my ears and their style of pollutions are rattling to my souls. I simply refuse to see any poetry and appreciate any art in the contemporary noise makers parading themselves as musicians.
When CNN interviewed someone from Iran during this day I stared at the news all evening, hoping to hear that MJ rose up again, one person said; “...well, people die, people are born... that is the rhythm of life”. And it is very true. As a living being, we are constantly reminded of the time we will die. A friend from Bangladesh once told me of an Arabic aphorism that “when we came to this world, we wept and others who had awaited our coming smiled, laughed and clapped; we must work hard at our human relationships and perfect our souls such that when we leave the world, it is our turn to smile triumphantly while others cry!” So was the case when such great art masters like, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Orlando Owo, Sunny Okosuns, fell and so went with them, the newness of their voice and art but leaving behind (for those of us who remain), their memories through great songs (hits and flops) that they
Many people had made great comments and even demonstrated through several videos clips that indeed, MJ was a great lover of people. While he was a king at what he did. The other side of Michael revealed one who loved the world; “we are the world”; loved the earth “earth song”; loved children “heal the world”; loved women “another day has gone”; loved peace “the man in the mirror”; loved to clear himself off controversy “Billy Jeans, Not My lover” and so on. Others have said all there need to say about MJ. But I am trying to say my farewell to this great Icon my own way by putting my thoughts in a written form. I confirm, that even though I was not there when in 1958 MJ was born so as to watch him cry, at least his life, his rhythms, his art had touched me so intensively that I weep my invisible tears and bore my sorrow over the demise of the great artist and one of the greatest of all times Michal Jackson.
Michael, what hurt me most is that you almost wrap up your art with a last curtain fall performance in London and that would have been so sweet and novel. Perhaps it is even better you didn’t get to do that last show; the memories of the previous ones you did will still linger on in our minds and we will tell our kids and the kids of our kids how great it was when you sang songs and people wept of joy! Perhaps it would have been more tragic and unceremonious if you had done the London curtain fall show; surely not many weird people are like Wole Soyinka who wrote his memoir “You Must Set Forth At Dawn” in a way as though saying farewell to the world but he is still alive years after such great theatrical curtain call!
What can a Yoruba man like me say to a white American like you Mick? I guess I will have to make it simple and wish you the very same thing I wish our fallen brethren of African origin. You have done your best Mike, you had ran the race, you have finished your course, whatever any autopsy might reveal, you will not come back. It is already more than 4 days and the world is not looking for your resurrections. But I beseech you therefore Brother Michael, to look out for greatest orchestra that is already developing on the mouth side of heaven’s gate. Elvisi Presley and James Brown had already gone to prepare the way for soul music lovers to transform themselves into gospel rhythm singers. That team is followed by the maestro of Afro jazz Fela , complemented by the sonority of Ray’s voice, Baba Kenery will give the orchestra some “gbanja” flavour and Sunny Okosun will probably start the opening prayers before you join them. Yusuf Olatunji has great flair for violin, Harun Ishola can use proverb and aphorism to impress God while Mariam Makeba can do songs right from the base of her tummy. Entertain God Almighty with your dance steps and acrobatic crouch-holding choreography Michael and when it is time for lunch, join the hosts of heaven in whatever they eat!
Heavens, do not be in a hurry, we shall all soon come- each at his appointed time!
Dele Akeem Sonubi, has Masters Degrees in Culture, Peace and Development Studies from Spain & Denmark, as well as in Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies from Austria. A graduate of the Ogun State University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria, Dele researches mostly on African indigenous initiatives and development drives. Dele believes very strongly in multi-ethnic and cross-cultural plurality. He seeks knowledge at the expense of knowledge and basically for the sake of knowledge. Dele A. Sonubi is the author of 2 published novels; The Grandfather’s Mandate and The Armed Robbers; he is working on his third novel and an anthology of poetry. He lives presently in Lagos, Nigeria.
June 28, 2009.
Originally appeared in Nigerians in America.