Hollywood is a jungle in which even squeezing that little pittance out of it is so insurmountable that it’s a wonder how those gallants made it.
Technology has come to the rescue of the third world, I can affirm.
It may’ve come with trickery and destructive ways to the world in hitherto unforeseen ways, as some superpower leaders would make us believe, but the world is without doubt better off embracing it than giving it its back.
After all, ability to solve such dangers is a lesson that should spur us to greater inventions.
In thus saying, I have something simple in mind. “Something” that refers to a mere song. By now everybody has heard about this tune from South Africa that has taken the world by storm, “Jelusalema”.
By all standards, “Jelusalema” is a simple gospel beat but the way all the continents have taken to it has astounded even its originators. Composed only towards the end of last years, it has over 197 million global YouTube views at its fingertips, as we talk.
According to some technology geek, YouTube might award it a package in excess of US$400,000. And counting, for the advertisements that’ll accrue from its viewing, seeing as it’s maintaining the upward trend. That’s not counting the sales. Plus, the fame the song has bestowed upon the composer and singer, Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode, is not factored in.
If indeed anything can show that today the world is flat, this is phenomenal.
A compatriot of those songbirds back in the day never got anywhere near to a whiff of that. Time was when the world was all hills and valleys, what happened in one place was alien to other places. You’d visit a valley, saunter back up the mountain and down behind and it’d be as if you descended into a void. None in the valley would hear of you again.
So it was that in 1939, South African Solomon Popoli Ntsele Linda composed a song and named it “Mbube” (Lion), urging all to be strong like one. It was popular in weddings and competitions of his locality and used to earn him goats and other livestock, to supplement his earnings as an illiterate labourer.
Unlike the rest of Africa, however, South Africans were advanced (for Apartheid reasons), and a talent scout bought the rights of the song from Linda at Sh.10 (65 US cents)! By the time the song made more than 100,000 sales for the buyer, in 1962, Linda had given up the ghost.
Before that, though, another talent scout shark had picked it up and literally ran away with it. He took it back to his country where, except for its chanting beat, it sounded like Chinese to everybody. Whereupon, some US singing group gave it the moniker “Winoweh”, according to that chanting refrain, as a traditional song from the wild.
From there it was taken up by many ‘pirates’, changing titles as it was grabbed left and right, and earning lots of money for all of them and nary a royalty payment to be made.
As luck would have it, a South African was mortified by the fact of this song being stolen by foreign ingrates, who couldn’t acknowledge its composer. Journalist Rian Malan felt he had had other amends to make to black South Africans, moreover, his grand-uncle, D. F. Malan, having been among the architects of Apartheid.
As the world is full of evil, so is it of good, if you ask me.
In 2000 he published a story in an American journal detailing the story of Solomon Linda and his song, Mbube. Said he, “this one’s for Solomon Linda, a Zulu who wrote a melody that earned untold millions for white men but died so poor that his widow couldn’t afford a [tombstone] for his grave.”
Even a stone’s heart would bleed! But then, as we know well, there are heartless humans!
On June 15, 1994, Disney released a feature-length animated motion picture, “The Lion King”. It was the highest-grossing movie until 2006, garnering close to US $2billion.
“In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle, The Lion Sleeps Tonight!” By then, every grey-hair like yours truly, every lady, lass and kid of this globe was humming that melody to no end.
Solomon Linda’s surviving daughters are receiving a pittance of allowance thanks to the efforts of Rian Malan and indefatigable lawyers. That, however, is for the birds.
But then again, Hollywood is a jungle in which even squeezing that little pittance out of it is so insurmountable that it’s a wonder how those gallants made it. It’s a fallacious jungle that made a fallacy of that song, too, because we know that lions live in savannah land, not jungles!
Talking about fallacies, however, haven’t we in Rwanda seen enough to torture our hearts for ever?
Nothing can be worse than dramatizing the trivialisation of our heart-bleed to the level of raising a fraud to the pedestal of hero who had any part in stopping the Genocide against the Tutsi. None bothered to contact the real heroes.
Linda, oh, how we identify with your story.
But take hearts, Rwandans and all, technology is on our side.
Originally published at The new times