Soundtrack to a lifetime

2009-10-06 12:05

Do you ever sit and wonder what music will sound like in 10 years?

20 years? With all the talk that television and cinema are going to

dwindle in popularity, do you ever wonder what you will be watching in

the future? Do you ever look at your parents and wonder what they

really think about the music you are passionate about today? If your

parents are older than 50, they were probably born into an Africa with

no (or very few) cars, no television, no telephones (let alone

cellphones), no computers, no electricity, no running water in homes

and so on. And now they function without too much drama in what is

becoming an extremely digital world.

I am sure, though, you

have received the occasional comment when it comes to the music you

listen to. Every generation seems to look at the music of following

generations and declare it non-music. I used to be extremely passionate

about my music, fervently defending it in the face of criticism. They

obviously didn’t get it. They were too old and too set in their ways to

understand the genius in the music that was created for my generation.

Yet, I grew up with my father’s extensive record collection and had

found a way for his music and my music to live side-by-side in my heart

and mind.

There was nothing I enjoyed more than spending

my Sundays digging through his collection playing everything from

Marvin Gaye, Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley and Bing Crosby to Nat King

Cole, Quincy Jones, Babsy Mlangeni and Dark City Sisters. On radio and

television, it was Lionel Ritchie, Michael Jackson, Brenda and The Big

Dudes, Kamazu, Condry Ziqubu, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran and later the

hip-hop of Run DMC, Whodini, Slick Rick, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee and


I also remember when we got our first television in

the mid-1980s. Growing up in Lesotho, all we had was South African

television and I spent considerable amounts of time staring at the

screen, regardless of whether I understood it or not. Steve Austin: Die

Man Van Staal, Rabobi, Di A Rora, Mind Your Language, Knight Rider,

Airwolf, The A-Team, Spencer, Magnum PI – these served as the backdrop

to my adolescence, each leaving residues on my subconscious memory.


someone looking back at them now, they may not seem like much,

especially with the technological advancements in production as well as

the gradual death of anything even remotely taboo – kissing was a big

deal – but they were strangely reflective of how we learned to view the


Nostalgia has a funny way of coating history with a

soft palate that hides the darkness, leaving only good memories.

Actors, musicians, television shows and music carry with them those

wonderful adolescent moments that you yearn for now. When you hear a

particular song or see a particular actor it is quite possible to be

transported back, albeit briefly, to a moment in what seems like a

lifetime ago when things seemed much simpler.

I struggle

with a lot of music coming out ­today. The context I have is the music

of my father’s generation and my generation. It is music that is

directly connected to my life experience. It was this music that

allowed me to wallow in teenage self-pity after a break-up and it was

this music that often kept me sane and helped me move on.


first time I ever kissed a girl was at a birthday party, in a closet,

with my friends all standing outside timing us. In the background Bra

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s Burn Out playing. Or the first time I went to

a school party that required dancing. I didn’t know how to dance so I

spent the two weeks watching the Michael Jackson Thriller video. For

years my friends teased me about how I did the MJ non-stop, regardless

of song or tempo.

Time has taught me that life is a

marathon. Each experience has contributed to the person I am today and

so I can look back and smile. In some instances, it may be bittersweet.

There is a song for every occasion and I am grateful to the creators

for providing the soundtrack to my life.

Write to Kojo on

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