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

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

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.”

Memoir: Wonderful World

What a wonderful world, Louis Armstrong


This song reminds me of Sundays or occasions when my parents hosted parties for their expat friends.

Mum was a Homemaker and Dad a Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineer. Until he started his own company, he held various commissioning and project management roles within several multinational companies.

As a result of this, he had friends and colleagues from England, America, India, Greece, Ireland, Italy… And whenever it was our turn to play host, Dad dipped into his collection of soul, jazz, blues, reggae, pop, rock.., for music entertainment. He also ensured that the drinks were super-chilled, and the house had the optimum temperature, while Mum took care of food and desert.

He starts with the slower tracks and gradually increases the tempo, controlling the mood of his guests. After the meal, much drinking takes over. The tempo steps-up and the dancing begins — I could kill for an opportunity to see those killer moves again!

As children, these were exciting times! We saw no colour or race, every child was a cousin, and adults — uncles and aunts. We jumped in and out of Mum’s precious garden playing games, to the backdrop of some lovely music and laughter from inside the house. For us, it was indeed a wonderful world.

In spite of racism, civil rights battles, racial tensions, cold war, the arms race, class divide and all other social ills, the song writer still had a vision of a Wonderful World.

Through the eyes of Louis Armstrong — a black man, it was a wonderful world. He was not in denial of the troubles of his time, in fact he spoke against racism on few occasion and took actions accordingly.

However, he chose not to stoop low to hatred and bitterness. He did this by sharing his love for humanity through his musical talent, regardless of the race, creed or colour of to his audience. He was able to draw strength from the positives, instead of drowning in the negatives.

Friends, we can find beauty in some of life’s ugliest situations or circumstances. So, let’s keep our dreams and vision alive — it is indeed a wonderful world.

Memoir: Dilemma…

Johnny was, Bob Marley


Opening line; “Woman hold her head and cry, ‘cause her son had been shot down in the street and died, from a stray bullet…”

This song sums up the pain and travail of humanity. Our feelings of powerlessness towards injustice and social inequality.

What is a life worth? Is the life of a wealthy man more important than that of a poorer man? Is an “educated man” more important than a less educated man? Why was Johnny hit by a stray bullet? Why not one of the oppressors, or perhaps evil person?

These questions can be asked after every demonstration or protest that has taken place around the world where people have subsequently been arrested, tortured, killed, kidnapped, assassinated, murdered…

Martyrs, prisoners of conscience, prisoners of ideology, political prisoners, prisoners of love — call them what you like. People at the end of the day – humankind.

The songwriter then tries to find meaning from the Bible with the line; “And she knows that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of Jah is life…”. However this left him even more confused when he took to account that Johnny was in fact a good man.

Somethings are hard to comprehend — reminding us that we are mere mortals. We are finite; with a beginning and an end. We are very limited in our knowledge and understanding of these matters.

I chose this album as part of a collection of 3 albums when I was 14. This came about after a discussion with my Dad one lovely evening on the need to rejuvenate his record collection. Impressed with my taste, it later became a regular ritual. I bought albums of newer artists and Dad kept track with new releases of older artists and we listened to them over the weekend while discussing politics, history, sports or movies.

Bob Marley went on to close this song, with a very potent question again from the Bible, “Can a woman’s tender care seize towards the child she bear?”. Taken from the book of Isaiah, with Jehovah using the same words to assure Israel of his undying love for them even though they had turned their backs towards Him.

From a human perspective it also brings to light the pain of a loss. The death of Johnnys around the world would never be forgotten even as a woman’s tender care would not seize towards the child she bears.

This is definitely one of my favourite songs!

Memoir: Walkman and Cassette Players…

Prophecy, Don Carlos


Don Carlos and Gold took the 80s by surprise. Among their many hits, Prophecy is one of my favourites.

Blaring from record stores, radio stations, barbing salons, public transport, electrical shops, drinking spots, homes, Universities halls of resident, Clubs, parties…, everyone had to hear them.

I first heard Prophecy on my late older brother’s Sony Walkman, on lovely sunny afternoon — it was electric! And my most memorable experience of the song was when he accompanied me to see a girlfriend of mine.

During a lively chat about music, he suggested we listen to his copy on their sound system. My friend’s brother who was then a fresher at University studying medicine, also caught the bug! He was competely entranced by the song, and my cred went sky rocket in their home.

The track opens up with a beautiful drum roll and an incredible wail. A wail symbolising resurrection from the pains and chains of oppression. The song highlights slavery, colonisation, discrimination, brutality, inequality, injustice, segregation and the position of the “Almighty” as the ultimate judge of all humanity.

Today we still face similar challenges. We are faced with greed, poverty, unfair trade, hunger, brain drain, slavery, corruption, social inequality and immobility…

The composition is an epic work of art, and the lyrics sublime. I could listen to this track all day and never loose flavour for it.

Definitely one of my all time favourites!