Encounter With a Melody Woman that 'Stole' my 'Heart'

by SOC Okenwa

South Africa is an African rennaissant pride! The first time I ever landed in Johannesburg I had testified to the good side of Apartheid in spite of its many dimensions of evil and man’s inhumanity to man. The Whites or Afrikaans that perpetrated Apartheid must be given credit for their infrastructural ingenuity and positive spirits of development even if they had thought they were doing it for their future generations in the hope that Apartheid would never crumble.

The South African democracy is unique in the sense that the executive, legislature and judiciary are headquartered in different cities: Pretoria hosts Mbeki’s presidency, Cape Town has the legislators and the judiciary top brass are found elsewhere. Unlike in Nigeria where President Yar’Adua, Senate President David Mark, House Speaker Bankole and Chief Justice Kutigi are all located in Abuja. That is partly why a chronic coupist like IBB or Abacha can conveniently afford to mount an audacious seizure of democratic institutions.

And that is the same reason why a pseudo-democrat like Obasanjo could defy the Supreme Court and their Lordships’ brave judgements or try to, armed with ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags filled to the brim with dollars, naira and euro, bribe the Senators and House members in his grotesque bid to undo the constitution.

In SA worse than Nigeria the urban crime rate is mounting and rising in their horrific profile. Hardly a day passes by without terrible incidence of violence and armed robbery. Apartheid was dismantled over a decade ago but the huge black army of jobless and homeless and hopeless generation it produced are settling scores with the system even when blacks are now in charge. Bottled-up emotions, frustrations and economic disparities are manifesting with violence as a convenient vehicle.

Johannesburg is a first-class modern city comparable with any Asian, American or European city: Paris, New York, Tokyo. I had wondered upon arrival in the city and a subsequent visit to Cape Town if there had not been Apartheid how the face of the glittering cities would have been or looked like: Lagos? Nairobi?

Aside the beautiful cities — Jo’burg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Sun City — that dot the landscape of South Africa however one finds a world-renown ghetto town of Soweto, more dangerous and more miserable the index of living than Ajegunle, Orile or Oshodi in Lagos Nigeria. Soweto keeps reminding us all even today of how the Apartheid system dehumanized the owners of the land and quarantined the poor majority to live in perpetual poverty and spiritual torture! Today however much has changed like in Ajegunle, Orile and Oshodi.

South Africa, to be sure, has many potentials. Apart from being the only sub-Saharan African nation with world-class economy and infrastructures the rainbow nation has given Africa rich culture, best reggae musician in the person of late murdered Lucky Dube. Other world-class musicians from there include Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Paul Simon, Rebecca Malope.

For the first time ever the FIFA-organised football World Cup will be staged epochally there in 2010! And above all South Africa has graciously given us a Mandela, an incomparable study in human character and stoicism. Nelson Mandela, the world statesman, is not only the conqueror of Apartheid but the best face of leadership example and statesmanship from this clime. Madiba keeps hope alive that under the African sky a man could be as principled and large-hearted as to be found amongst us.

Among the gospel musicians in global scale that I adore whose songs appeal to my soul is ranked one diminutive Rebecca Malope from Madiba-land — in fact she is my all-time favourite! Others include American Ron Kenoly, Phil Driscol; Ivorian Constance, Onel Mala and Nigerian Sammy Okposo.

The first time I ever heard of this wonderful Christian melody diva was far back in 1998 when she was interviewed by the BBC African Service in London. Rebecca was exuding modesty and full of life. She confessed that her height never bothered her as she shopped for her wears in the children’s department of any boutique!

And during my trip to Cape Town few years ago I had a physical contact with her as my friend and I drove into a hypermarket to drink some coffee. We ran into her as she was busy signing autographs for her fans and having fun. In my house her CDs rank the highest among my CD collections. Her recent album is a great piece of melodious gospel work.

Rebecca Malope came to town last Sunday for a well-publicised concert. In the evening hours inside the magnificent “Palais de la Culture” in Treichville thousands including yours sincerely sang and danced with Rebecca in high spirits. She gave her best to an appreciative crowd. Storming the city last week Friday in the evening hours straight from Jo’burg with a 12-(wo)man band the MASA-organized concert was a huge success.

With her powerful voice full of passion and emotion, the language of delivery of her lyrics mostly in her native tongue pregnant with curiosity and nature the multiple international award winner entertained the audience that included the Ghanaian and South African Ambassadors.

My closest encounter with her last Sunday really made my day and uplifted my spirit. Rebecca exposed her great talent to the admiration of many. It was a moment of divine reverence and exhortation. The Almighty, literarily through the intervention of the holy spirits, came down as we magnified His Lordship with moving praise and worship songs.

What mother nature denied Rebecca in terms of normal size it incredibly compensated her through her giant strides in gospel music mission. Rebecca is an African music ambassador of goodwill who goes about exhibiting her rare talent with feminine grace, power and dignity. She is a pride to womanhood, a jewel to Christianity! She has unknowingly ‘stolen’ my ‘heart’ melodically and I believe many ‘hearts’ must have equally been ‘stolen’ and souls won over for Christ.

May this small-sized melody woman from South Africa grow in strength and may her wisdom and talent never decrease by the special grace of the living God. Amen!

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