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Memoirs

Memoirs: Rev Grace Glorious

Last night I had the honour of attending the Celebration of Life of a dear friend, adopted mother and mentor – a woman like no other!

Her husband passed away just after eight years of marriage and she was left with four children to bring up on her own. We were told of some of the extraordinary length she went to ensure that her children were fed, clothed and provided for in the absence of state help. Her ingenuity and resolve was second to none. She later remarried, had her second daughter and moved over to England.

Sadly she lost her second husband shortly after they arrived in the UK, but never lost her faith in God.

I liken her to Anna, the prophetess and widow that spent the rest of her life praying for the Messiah, from a young age after the passing away of her husband.

Grace was sold-out in her commitment to God! She was a poet, writer, singer, preacher and most importantly mentor to hundreds.

Tributes poured in on and off the podium, and her life was encapsulated in these words from Paul’s letter to his young friend Timothy before he died:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

I imagine her words to us from the same thread:

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

The service ended with everyone singing jubilantly to the old gospel song; When the saint go marching in.

She made us laugh, she taught us the bible, she taught us how to share our faith, and she taught us how to pray.

Sleep well Rev Grace Glorious… See you soon!

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~ Sabali

Categories
Memoirs

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

Categories
Memoirs

Memoir: Hip Hop Therapy…

Ever So Clear, Bushwick Bill


This tune brings back memories of Yo MTV rap, those teenage years of care-free living…

Fortunate to have been brought-up in a middle-class home, there were still times when it was just impossible to see the future clearly. This was partly down to decades of being governed by corrupt, oppressive and vision-less politicians.

The middle-class was shrinking economically and physically as the mass exodus continued to the west — brain drain at astronomical levels. Majority of those left were demotivated and exhausted, owing to the constant struggle to survive. It was almost like the ruling elites were against the citizens.

Universities were ridden with gang culture, kidnapping, prostitution, gang violence, corrupt lecturers, corrupt undercover police officers. The socio-political climate created the right environment for growth of an urban Hip Hop culture.

As a result, middle class African kids could empathise with the struggles and challenges of the underclass in America. Movies like New Jack City, Mo Better Blues, Poetic Justice, Deep Cover, Jungle fever…, became part of the social fabric.

Every now and again, there were house parties, beach parties, pool parties, club scene, Fela Kuti, festivals, table tennis, pool, weights, local drinking spots… Or just lounging, discussing politics, football and having a go at each other.

But when times were tough, I reached out for this track among others. It opens up with the line,

“See, most of my life I never had s**t. I felt like an outcast, treated like a misfit…”.

I simply shut my eyes, listening and giving thanks with the knowledge that my situation could be worse. As put by English reformer and Martyr, John Bradford,

“There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.”