26 October, 2007

Remembering Lucky Dube

In 1992, in Nairobi, I was flipping through the TV channels looking for the news on CNN (aired through KTN, then); as I was about to flip on, further, some thing captured my attention on the KBC: a voice. The Voice.

Singing on the TV, was a man. A man in dreadlocks. It was not the way he looked, that captured my attention first. Not the way he moved or danced. And not even the words he sang. But: the voice. It was unique; one of a kind; a voice that simply, I could not help wanting to listen on and on. But the song ended; rather too fast it seemed to me. I didn't know the man singing. I had never heard that voice before.

Though I am not much in to reggae, I, like millions around the world, very much loved and still love, the late Bob Marley's music and revolutionary message. After Marley, there didn't seem any one else who could sing in reggae and completely capture my attention. Well, the song on TV had ended abruptly and after a few minutes, I seemed to have forgotten about it. But, just a few minutes later - the same song was aired back on the same channel. I sat and listened. Completely mesmerised. It's then I realised that: the man didn't only have a most extraordinary voice; but, his words too, were just as captivating.

My eldest daughter, was seated next to me; she was then eight. She realised that I was very much liking the song on TV, and she smiled. I asked her if she knew the song and the man. She looked at me very surprised; surprised that I didn't know the man singing. I had been away from Kenya and Nairobi, for rather long; it seemed. It is my eldest daughter, who then told me who the man was; she could even sing along with the man that first song I heard. And from then on, I have been completely captivated by Lucky Dube and have been a great fan of him ever since. As for that first song I heard: Together As One - it's still one of my most favorite, of his.

A few days ago, I, as millions around the World, especially in Africa - was shocked and very shaken at the brutal murder (or was it assassination?) of Lucky Dube. I have never ever, been as emotionally moved and touched by the death of a musician or film star or sportsman or world leader as I have been of Lucky Dube's; I have always thought that, only the passing away of some one like Muhammad Ali or Nelson Mandela could arouse such feelings in me. I never thought or knew that Lucky Dube, meant this much to me.

I now know that it's due to how I was first introduced to Lucky Dube's songs, that did make that great impact on and in me. It was my eldest daughter, my closest friend and confidant ever since she was born, who not only introduced me to him, but who too - during the 90s - would show me how to dance in the same way Lucky Dube did. She would then even at times, plait her hairs to resemble those of Lucky Dube's - and then dance for me, mimicking him. And ever since 1992, all my five children have shared that great liking for Lucky Dube's songs with me; just like they have all shared my great liking and respect for Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela. Some have wondered: how can some one whose life revolves around Islam and as conservative and reserved as I am - could so much love Rastafari, reggae music?

It is not only the music and voice that moves me, it's the message in Marley's and Dube's songs that captivates: great, social messages. And Dube lived, just as he preached: always - peaceful, humble, loving, a family man, a non-smoker, a teetotaler and never touching drugs. I, like millions around the World, will always continue listening to and loving his songs and will always fondly remember Lucky Dube.

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