LUCKY DUBE AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN ‘CRAZY WORLD’
On the 18th of October 2007, while I was still at the University of Ado Ekiti, international Reggaedom was again jolted with the tragic news of yet another untimely death of one of its illustrious artistes.
South African born international Reggae maestro, Lucky Dube, had been murdered by carjacking robbers at a Johannesburg township called KwaThema shortly after dropping off two of his seven children at their uncle’s house.
It later emerged in court that Dube, who was driving his Chrysler 300C, was a tragic victim of mistaken identity from his assailants who, not recognising him and believing — on the basis of the car’s ostentation — that he was a Nigerian, went after his car and killed him in the process.
Five men were arrested in connection with the murder, one of whom was a Mozambican. Three of them were tried and found guilty on the 31st of March, 2009. Two of the men attempted to escape and were caught. The men are currently serving life imprisonment.
When I heard this news, to be entirely honest, in my grief, I blamed Lucky Dube partly for his own death especially in the way in which he had been lackadaisical in his personal security.
How an international artiste of Dube’s standing — a man who had been invited in 1991 to play at the prestigious Reggae Sunsplash Festival in Montego Bay in Jamaica, and even received an immediate invitation for an encore performance, a man whose own hero and role model, Jamaican Reggae star, Peter Tosh, had been murdered in similar circumstances at his own home in Kingston, Jamaica, precisely 20 years earlier in 1987, and a man who had written a most poignantly prophetic song entitled: ‘Crazy World’ — became so complacent as to drive around the violent streets of South Africa without bodyguards, was, quite simply, beyond me.
Again, on the night of 14th February, 2013, on Valentine’s Day, Oscar Pistorius, a white South African disabled Olympic athlete, shot and killed his girlfriend, a popular South African model, Reeva Steenkamp, through the locked door of his bathroom while she was staying in his home.
Pistorius, who admitted in court that he had shot Steenkamp four times, claimed that he had mistaken her for an intruder hiding in his bathroom. But it was shown by the prosecution that Pistorius deliberately murdered his girlfriend, Ms Steenkamp, because she had planned to leave him.
On 12th of September 2014, Pistorius was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of culpable homicide in the case. On 21st of October 2014, he was sentenced to five years in jail, but served only 10 months.
In December 2015, the South African Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the culpable homicide verdict and instead found Pistorius guilty of murder for which the judge in the original trial, Judge Masipa, sentenced him to only six years in prison for murder despite there being a minimum sentence of 15 years in South Africa.
On the 24th November 2017, the prosecution successfully got the Court of Appeal to extend Oscar Pistorius’ jail term to 13 years and five months.
While following the televised trial of Pistorius in 2014, I remember wondering how a man could be woken up in the dead of the night by the ‘sounds of an intruder’ in his bathroom, get up from his bed, pick his gun without making any attempt whatsoever to ascertain whether his partner who lay on the same bed was still safely there, go to his bathroom and pump four bullets straight through the door without shouting any orders to the intruder!
I have recalled these two harrowing incidents to exemplify the contention that the South African WORLD — as seen in the murders of Lucky Dube and Reeva Steenkamp, as well as in Pistorius’ trial, and which is now being enacted in the state-sponsored attacks on fellow Africans — has always been CRAZY.
As I have indicated already, Lucky Dube wrote and sang several songs whose lyrics appear to have presaged current happenings in South Africa. One of such songs is ‘Crazy World’ from his 1992 album, ‘House of Exile’.
Thus, whoever sincerely desires answers to the current shameless brigandage or banditry occurring in the crazy world of South Africa referred to as xenophobia must turn to the majestic lyrics of ‘Crazy World’.
In the relevant portions of the song, Dube sings:
So far so good, we’re still living today
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
You’ll only know about it when the man in
a long black coat knocks on your door
Cos you’re his next victim
Yes, you are living in (living in), living in
(living in) this crazy world
I tell you, we are living in (living in), living in
(living in) this crazy world….
And for the likes of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and his Deputy Police Minister who appear to have exhorted these attacks by their incendiary anti-foreigners rhetoric, Lucky Dube has a message, and it is this:
Leaders start the war anytime they want
Some for their right, some for fun and their
own glory, yeah
Letting people die for the wrongs that we do
Oh, it’s painful…
And in the most harrowing portion of the lyrics, my very favourite words of them all, Dube incorporates the classic verse from a Christian child’s Bedtime Prayer and sings:
Come on now, little boy
Say your prayers before you sleep
Little boy went down on his knees
And he said, ‘Oh Lord,
“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
And if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take” ‘.
And so for Lucky Dube, the reason why this little boy understands South Africa full well is:
Cos he’s living in this crazy world, oh Lord
Him a-go living in (living in), living in (living
in) this crazy world…
I am certain that the little boy who said this powerfully evocative prayer has seen what careless complacency did to Lucky Dube in 2007 and romantic complacency to Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, as well as the corresponding trials of their respective assailants.
By remaining in the crazy world of South Africa, the Nigerian, Zambian and Zimbabwean are guilty of careless complacency.
If the little boy understood this, then Nigerians, Zambians, Zimbabweans, etc, living in South Africa must listen to, and act on, Lucky Dube’s exhortation that in South Africa:
YOU’RE LIVING IN THIS CRAZY WORLD!
By Garvey Ufot