Mode: DJ mode
In the spirit of #musicmonday on twitter and trying to get my blog writing juices flowing, I made a point of lining up tracks I feel like listening to on my mp3 player aka ‘theme music’. On occasion, I hear a beat, hook or a line in a track and I immediately think of someone I know, mostly because the track sounds like something they say or do or suits them in one way or another. Since you may not know those people, I thought I’d pick people that you may know particularly because of the media coverage they’ve received this year. Although the music speaks for itself, my association of these tracks to the individuals below requires explanation.
Jakaya Kikwete: Ludacris – “Pimpin’ All Over the World”
I stand to be corrected but I think that unlike Mkapa, Kikwete mirrors all the things we have grown to know and associate Tanzanians with: calm, easy going, charming and friendly. So it’s no surprise that Kikwete has been able to woo both his African compatriots and the international community so as to get financial aid and technical support thereby increasing Tanzania’s visibility on the world stage. This year “Mr. Hollywood” has been all over the map, promoting his country soliciting private investors and aid agencies and strengthening his country’s ties especially with the West. At some point, the media even did a story where his globe-trotting ways were called into question because it was said that he was never in his country long enough to ensure that this reform agenda was being implemented on the ground. The most notable example of Kikwete’s jet-set year in 2009 was when he travelled to the US to meet Obama shortly after the latter he was sworn into office (one of the first heads of state to do so). The agenda of this special meeting was apparently to discuss the situation in Kenya involving the coalition government.
Jacob Zuma: Methodman & Redman – “Hey Zulu”
Most of the locals I know adamantly told me that the “people of South Africa” would never allow someone like Jacob Zuma aka JZ to see the inside of the Presidential Limousine. Sure enough, he was already fired as Deputy President, had several pending cases for corruption and not to mention his infamous rape charge where he claimed that a post-coital shower protected him from contracting HIV/AIDS. All that aside, we all watched as JZ literally dance his way to the presidency this year and so I always imagine him, now in state house, dancing to this track with one or all of his many wives.
Muammar al-Gaddafi: Kanye West – “Cant Tell Me Nothing”
This year, one of the most talked about Hollywood events was Kanye’s infamous Grammy interruption and whenever I listen to any of West’s records, its easy to see why that incident was far from staged. I believe this arrogance and egoism is also shared by Colonel Gaddafi. It’s everything from the way he dresses, the way he speaks like he did recently at the UN General Assembly for a record 1 hour and something. But the one image of Gaddafi which was indelible in 2009 was when he got off the plane in Italy with armed female bodyguards! This air of self-importance and bigheadedness seems to have been inherited by his son Hannibal, who’s also made news this year for his shenanigans in Switzerland and in the UK.
Paul Kagame: Jay-Z – “What More Can I Say”
Getting Rwanda into the Commonwealth last week was the coupe de grace of a successful 2009 for this head of state. His progressive and expansionist approach, business-mindedness and no-nonesense attitude has made him a household name in the books of global investors and international organizations alike. Although on paper Kagame has put Rwanda on the map in more ways than one, I question the manner in which this military-turned-civilian leader is running his country. As a minority Tutsi himself, it’s not hard to imagine that a person in Kagame’s position would want to take advantage of the emotive impact of his country’s past not only to appeal for funding and investment partnerships with the guilt-ridden West but more so to instill an authoritarian system of government where human rights are suppressed “for the well-being and safety of the country”. All I’m saying is that you can take the man out of the uniform but you cant take the military out of the man. In Kagame’s case, the suppression of basic civil liberties such as freedoms of speech, the media and association are worrying. In addition there are reports that a small powerful clique of minority Tutsi connected to Kagame have largely been the beneficiaries of Rwanda’s booming economy.
Robert Mugabe: Busta Rhymes – “Respect My Conglomerate”
I’ve blogged about Zimbabwe and uncle Bob on several occasions this year plus I think the hook sums it up pretty much. The uncanny parallel between Busta’s ever-animated vocals and the constant image I have of Mugabe in the middle of one of his anti-imperialist tirades, is the reason I see the latter in this track. And in case you’re thinking the conglomerate was the ZANU-PF/MDC marriage. Nope! It’s all about him and his ZANU-PF cronies who consider Tsvangirai as a sellout and an obstacle in their way of bringing “development” and “progress” to the land formerly known as Rhodesia. Among the many news-making incident featuring Comrade Mugabe this year, his over-the-top birthday party early this year was a sign that he did not give a flying fornication what anyone thought about him or the way he runs the country.
Barack Obama: Nas – “Black President”
I know he’s not African but this list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention Mr. Nobel Laureate 2009. On the same year the world watched Obama become the first black president of the US, those who doubted he would ever ascend to those heights undoubted echo this Tupac-sampled track. But the jubilant ending of this track was an exact prediction of the election outcome. What is striking about this particular track is that there is also emphasis on the fact that Obama is not a saviour, he’s a politician like all the rest so his primary concerns are himself and those around him who matter most.
Kofi Annan: Drake – “Best I’ve Ever Had”
I know he’s not a head of state but this good doctor (Honorary doctorate holder from you-know-where) has been at the forefront of helping us resolve our post-election mess, so much so that he almost had wanainchi imagining he would just be made our interim president! (okay, maybe I exaggerate a tad). But his most visible role this year has been that of wise African elder/ headmaster watching over the two squabbling school boys Tinga and Koala even summoning both of them to his offices in Geneva to scold them for their bad behavour earlier this year.
Kofi, Kenya and all her citizenry would gladly dedicate this song to you. You’re the f*cking best! Best we ever had!
Now playing: Mos Def – “Life in Marvelous Times”