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An Ode to Music

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The peerless, Zonke Dikana sings “Ndingaba yintoni na? Ngaphandle kwakho mmino which directly translates to “Who am I without music? –These are more than just lyrics to this classic jam but a lived experience to me.

My life continues to be a beautiful unveiling story that constantly leaves me awestruck. I have had my share of peaks and valleys, downcast moments but eminently above all this, I have experienced pure bliss. Throughout all these ever-changing seasons, beautiful music expressed in various melodies and echoed by different voices has been the soundtrack to every moment and it has been at the epicentre of my life’s trajectory.

Music is the language best understood by the soul. It transcends all systemic, intellectual, and time boundaries-basically music is undefeated! The world changes in split seconds but music remain consistent. In war or during a victory parade music has proven the power to break all barriers and boundaries.

“Where words fail, music speaks”-Hans Christian Andersen.

At times I kneel with the utmost reverence in prayer. Words from my mouth cease and vanish, I then find music uttering a prayer when I am inarticulate.

“Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch”- Debasish Mridha

Where the Doctor’s most trusted diagnostic machines, x rays, and surgical machines can never reach. Music enters gracefully and with tenderness to just sprinkle its divine healing power. You would remember the good history of a young Naledi, who had renal failure and was in a coma for 5 months. The melodies of the song “Believer” by songstress, Lira, brought her back from the coma or the lovely story of the 7-year-old English girl suffering from brain hemorrhage who recovered as her mother sang the ever quintessential, Rolling in the Deep by Adele.

In my language, we sing “Ukuhlabelela kuyamthokozisa odabukile”, meaning music has the power to change your mood and be a remedy in a time of despair. Music is arguably the only force that continuously aids me to emerge victoriously when my back is swayed in parabola motion. Sometimes, all you need is the melody, the harmonies, and sometimes those notes to get you off from grief and lament.

Music is a universal language of humankind, it unites. When expressed at its glory and purest form the world is prescribed to stand still in awe. Football enthusiasts will let you in on the influence of the “Ole Ole Ole” Chant without thinking twice. Amidst the pandemic in 2020, that ravaged people’s lives in a fraction of a second, the world united to twirl to the beat of Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode’s Jerusalema.

In its ability to erode, purify, fill the thirst, and bend all rules and laws of nature, music resembles water. Water can be violent but it also exudes harmony and tranquillity, indistinguishable from music. Buoyantly from the rough sounds of Tina Turner to the sweet melodies of Pavarotti. Water is deemed one of the greatest musical instruments itself, as it composes its sounds through the roaring and rumbling of the waterfalls to the stillness of waters in the ponds that fill humans with radiance and meditation.

Music is at the core of all creation, birds attest to this when they chirp with enchanting sounds and notes.

Music is the wind beneath our wings and gives us the ability to dream. What Almar Gumbo describes as “Dreaming in dreams you can’t pronounce, dreams so foreign to your reality that they frighten you”.

Personally, music is my solace and the catalyst in healing inside my soul and beneath a great deal of unspoken trauma.

Music carries much sentimental value in my life: I am vividly taken back to a walk I took with my mother, near a narrow steeped gorge (umhosha) not far from my great grandmother’s homestead, during which she shared with me that Jabu Khanyile’s Sponky-ponky Love is her favorite and if at any point, we were to be apart the song must reassure me of her presence.

I recall an era of Dr. Rebecca Malope’s music dominating all radio stations. We would unknowingly assume she stayed inside the portable radio. Little did we know that that was far from the case; Hilarious!. That is the influence of music in our imagination at play.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything”-Plato

Clear as crystal, I see myself in the corridors of a Leratong Hospital with its omnipresent smell of antiseptics and hopelessness in the atmosphere. My mother was unfortunately hospitalised for a severe mental disease. She could barely recognise anyone and was chained to her bed. At my tender age, nothing made sense. Music transformed into my comforter. I was consoled by the sounds of Glory of the Last Days, whispering that “God will carry me even in this raging storm”.

In my mother’s final moments before her demise, she called for me. I remember standing beside her in her death bed. She gave me her blessings and proceeded to request that I sing a hymn to her. With a trembling voice and tears flowing like a stream of a river from my eyes, I sang. Since that faithful day, I have had many incidents where the hymn Lizalisidinga Lakho slit and pierced my heart. That is my dearest encounter with music.

As a young man, I was depressed. Tormented by unrelenting bullying from my peers. I recited every prayer under the sun, yet hope was indefinite. The value of my life ran thin. I wanted to either take my life or vanish from the face of the earth until I heard the raspy unique voice of a village girl named Zahara. Loliwe from the songstress encouraged me to wipe my tears and boldly face life.

Eventually, I allow my heart to experience love, The Queen’ of Soul’s “Aint No Way” ushered in the obscure hallway of love. The moment the voice of my insecurities amplified, the soulful and tantalizing sounds of India Arie told me to embrace my identity and exhibited how my fears were limiting my potential. Leandra Johnson will forever be memorable for traditional gospel roots still make me hasten to the throne of God, or how the unrivaled Whitney Houston, even in her absence, still serenades me with love.

Gladys Knight’s Midnight Train to Georgia deserves a special nod. That tune took this village boy through an imaginary trip around the world. To destinations, the sole of his feet has not yet physically touched. It signified that I was dreaming again.

Throughout history, we have witnessed music assisting the marginalized in the fight against injustices. It carefully stirs up emotions for activism. The timeless sounds of Mam’Mariam Makeba awaken the African spirit in us and how Kwaito sounds became a beacon of hope for a new fragile democratic nation.

Music creates memories; Mafikizolo’s Udakwa Njalo (direct translation: you are always drunk) once got me in trouble with my elder. I must have sung the song so loud to wind him up he concluded that I was throwing shade at his issue with alcohol.

Conclusively, Thank God for the good tunes.

Music is eternal and infinite.

Written by Mbuyiselo Vilakazi, LLB (UKZN), candidate attorney, author of “Primed Up”, founder of Enable NPC and Y`CAP alumnus and support team ambassador and leader.|Edited by: Marcia Zwane

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