There is an old song – Amandla amasha – by Steve Kekana that I love. Loosely translated, the song’s lyrics go: ‘I see that you are on my case, and you are targeting me with renewed energy. In spite of your determination, not everything is going your way. As for me, I leave everything to my Ancestral Spirits. They will never stand idle whilst their offspring is made to suffer. They won’t allow their blood to be unfairly treated.’
In my life, there are times when I feel low and worthless. Everything changes when I listen to Amandla amasha. Steve’s melodious and lilting voice lifts me up and I feel ready to confront the Devil in hell. The sound of the soothing musical instruments delightfully flows in my veins and I see myself overcoming any challenge. Ask me for any favour whilst I’m listening to Steve, I’ll grant it before you finish speaking.
Another song from yesteryear that I love is Jemedza by James Chimombe. ‘Ancestral Spirits,’ James pleads, ‘be my guide and leader on the most important journey I’m about to undertake. You know all the pitfalls and dangers that await me. Fly ahead of me and neutralize them. Without your love and protection, my survival chances are zero. I have total faith in you. I therefore give all of myself unto you.’
I savour James’ voice as it effortlessly swings between mellowness and passion. Not to mention the rhythmic interplay of various instruments as they seem engaged in a friendly competition on who will render the most pleasure. Each of them delivers maximum joy. I often play this song over and over. It fills me to the brim yet leaves me gasping for more.
Yes, both songs carry me to a blissful world of total pleasure. I cry out the imaginative and poetic lyrics, hum along to the melodious tunes and stomp my feet to the delightful and energetic rhythms.
Wrestling with my pleasure
All things come to an end. Each time one of the songs stops I thump down to mother earth and feel like a peaceful demonstrator suddenly attacked by the riot police. Remorse assails me from all directions, leaving me shaken and confused. You see, I’m a Christian. What then would I have been doing enjoying pagan music?
‘Thou shall not be yoked with a non believer,’ the Bible says. With these songs I go a step further than just being yoked. I merge with the music in a way that no man can pull asunder.
‘I’m the way and the truth and the life,’ Jesus tells us. ‘No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Yet here I was pleading with non-existent Ancestral Spirits to love and protect me.
Reasoning with God
In his hit song Dhiabhorosi Nyoka, Paul Matavire criticises Adam for not trying to explain to God how he had been misled by Eve and the snake. I don’t want Paul Matavire ever to level that criticism at me. I therefore take time to explain my case to God.
‘My Lord, for me music is above intellect. When it is good, an invisible yet gentle force takes over me. I find my foot tapping along to the rhythm, my tongue humming along and my mind quietly reciting the lyrics. Music is like a dream. You don’t decide what you want to dream. You just wake up having dreamt it.
Music is what the mathematician term ‘given’. Yours is to accept it, not argue.
Finally Lord, I’m sure all good things come from you. Both Steve and James were inspired by you to write these beautiful lyrics. I’m just a happy victim of it all. Please don’t punish me for what can be traced back to you. Amen.’
Surely my loving Father will understand this? Will He?
A darkness that harbours no hyena
Perhaps I’m fretting over what my people term a darkness that harbours no hyena. The day is coming when I will walk up to the gates of heaven. With every step my heart will pound harder. Did I work hard enough to deserve a place in heaven? Will my enjoyment of pagan music be my downfall?
My heart will sink when I see people milling around the heaven gates. I recognise some pastors and elders, pacing up and down in their designer clothes. Past the gates is a well manicured lawn and beautiful mansions. I draw nearer so that I ask the pastors to speak on my behalf.
‘It’s tough brother,’ one of them mutters. ‘Even I am not sure if I’ll make it. As for you…,’ he slowly shakes his head, charity stopping him from finishing the sentence.
I sit down cover and my eyes with my hands, resigned to going to hell.
When I take my hands off, I see a man in faded blue jeans walking towards the gate. The angels make way for him. He stops and cheerfully calls out, ‘Mzana; Aah, you have arrived! Come over to the gate.’
Faster than Zacchaeus came down the tree I spring up and hurry through the crowd. The gates slide open and the caller invites me in. My heart leaps into my mouth but I quickly swallow it back. I just don’t believe who is standing before me.
‘But Master,’ I gush, ‘how can I come in before the pastors and elders?’ He is just as I’ve always imagined him – curly dark hair and brown complexion.
Jesus chuckles. ‘Those are border line cases. It takes time to decide where they go. You’re in.’
Still in a daze, I shake my head. ‘Oh Master, I’m in even though I often enjoyed pagan music! I thought you said one can only come to the Father through you.’
‘That’s right, and I reside in all good people. Hurry, some of your ancestors and favourite musicians are waiting inside.’
So it’s true! I’ve been fretting over nothing. The pitch black night harbours no hyena. I smile as I dance and hum my way into heaven with amandla amasha (renewed energy).