Memoir: My Angel…

Malaika, Miriam Makeba


Often played by special request from Mum while Dad is DJing at home on Friday nights after a busy working week. Also comes on in the background towards the end of a house party; when most guests are lounging with a bowl of pepper soup, Mums getting the children ready, checking dates for next event or party. Some couples dancing slowly, hand-in-hand, heads on shoulders, hands on shoulders, hands on hips to the rhythmic effect of this deeply moving song. It was finally the end of another party. Time to start saying good bye to friends and relatives. Time to retreat to the mundane… Not a happy time for us as children!

I’ve often felt that she was expressing something deeply profound. May be a protest against the apartheid regime in South Africa, or perhaps about her forced exile. I was surprised when I discovered that it is actually a Swahili folk song. The song of a man expressing his undying love for his Angel despite his misfortunes in life. This song among others challenges the old paradigm that love and romance is a western construct, and that marriage in Africa was solely part of cultural duty and procreation.

Love is a universal language. It sees beyond colour, race, culture, class, status and social norms. It outlives hardship, wars, natural disasters, sickness, pain, situations and circumstances. It blossoms in places we least expect it, and it reaches depths we can never comprehend.

Today we see the fruits of the travails of people like Miriam Makeba, Nelson Mandela, Steven Biko and others who fought selflessly against the evils of the apartheid regime. We have also witnessed the success of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

A wise king once said;

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned

So friends let us walk in love. For love never fails.

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~ Sabali

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