Monday, October 22, 2007

"There lies a man who fought for equality..."

The first time I heard Lucky Dube was as a college student working at the campus radio station. The song was his anti-Apartheid anthem "Together As One."

I liked it enough to seek out more of his stuff, special ordering the albums - and later the CDs - from The Record Store. Me, TC and Aaron were massive Lucky fans and it was a real treat whenever we all worked together because invariably one or more of us would have a few of his CDs on hand to play in store. We turned a lot of folks onto his pure, uplifting, soulful vibes.

Of all of his albums, 1993's Victims is my favorite, the songs indelibly stitched into the fabric of that sunny, tie-dyed summer. It was the summer we did a lot of camping, hiking and Grateful Dead concerts, and Victims was with us always. It was the summer of Bo Derek-stylee cornrowed hair, capped at the ends with tiny skull beads. We wore crystals - huge purple chunks of amethyst wrapped in spiraling copper wire - and bells around our ankles. We stank of patchouli and Nag Champa, and danced around the fires, moving to the rhythm of the drum-circles, laughing delightedly for hours and hours.

And we sang his songs, believing we could change the world.
"Hey you government
Never try to seperate the people
Hey you politician
Never try to seperate the people
They were created in the image of God
And who are you to seperate them
Bible says, he made man in his image
But it didn' t say black or white
Look at me you see BLACK
I look at you I see WHITE
Now is the time to kick that away
And join me in my song..."

But we didn't change the world. Instead, the world changed us. We lost our ideals, and we lost our way. And last Friday, we lost Lucky too.
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From the BBC:

Shock at South African reggae star shooting

Fans across the world are mourning the South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, who has been shot dead.
He was dropping his teenage son and daughter off in a Johannesburg suburb when he was attacked by car thieves.
Local radio stations have been flooded with tearful callers expressing outrage at the murder and renewing demands that the authorities act to curtail crime.
South Africa's leader paid tribute to him and called on people to "confront this terrible scourge of crime".

Alongside Bob Marley, Lucky Dube was thought of as one of the great reggae artists - singing about social problems.
He was also one of the apartheid regime's most outspoken critics.

Correspondents say the killing of the 43-year-old singer has shocked South Africans who are already accustomed to one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Music producer TK of TS records and a friend of Dube's told the BBC the killing was tragically ironic.
"The whole continent has lost a performer, musician, a guy that fought for freedom in his own way, in his own right, was just shot by some guy who wanted to take his car, you know, which is Mickey Mouse really," he said.

Opposition parties and the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress party have called on the government to take drastic measures against crime.
Callers to radio stations have urged the country's rugby team to show some form of respect when they take to the field in Saturday's World Cup final against England in Paris.
President Thabo Mbeki is attending the final and took time to pay tribute to the dreadlocked reggae star before he jetted off to France.

"It's indeed very very sad that this happens to an outstanding South African, an outstanding musician - world renowned," he said.
"We shall continue to act together as a people to confront this terrible scourge of crime, which has taken the lives of too many of our people - and does so every day."
The BBC's Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says police are still hunting for three men thought to be behind the attack.

Police say Dube's son and daughter were already out of the car when three shots were fired through the car window killing their father on Thursday evening in Rosettenville.
Witnesses say the wounded singer tried to drive away, but lost control of his car and hit a tree.
"He was declared dead on the scene," Police inspector Lorrain Van Immareck told the BBC.

Lucky Dube's Rastas Never Die album was banned under apartheid

"I am a 27-year-old black South African girl. I have dreadlocks and I love reggae music so much and I am proud to be who I am, being black and African. I will miss Lucky Dube, you are an inspiration to many of us," Sbongile Diko in Durban wrote.
But the tributes have been worldwide - especially from Africa.

"Lucky filled up stadiums all over the continent. I would say he was far bigger outside South Africa then he was in South Africa," South African music journalist Peter Makurube told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
Dube began his career by singing mbaqanga (traditional Zulu) music and recorded his first album with the Super Soul band in 1982.
He later moved into reggae, producing Rastas Never Die which was banned by the apartheid government.
His albums Slave, Prisoner and Together As One saw him gain first national, and then global, recognition.

Three years ago his 1989 anti-apartheid hit Together as One, which calls for world peace and harmony, was voted one of Africa's top 10 songs by BBC readers and listeners.
Lucky Dube released his most recent album, Respect, in April.

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