My mother, bless her soul, would always smile lovingly whenever we would watch the Women of Faith conferences; and laugh as I declared to her that one day I would sneak into one of them to enjoy the music. Profound wisdom saved her the blushes of pointing out to an inquisitive, naive boy the obvious deterrent to my attendance of an all-female seminar.
I remember that tape; it was one of her favorites; Darlene Zsech in that regal get-up, an image I have never forgotten. 27 short minutes, but what epic minutes they were; classic after classic, music that moved your soul. This is almost two decades ago mind you. So it was with great trepidation that I suggested this particular playlist to a cousin of mine who’d asked for my favorite all-female musical performance.
Here we are, in between a Willy Poze and a Jimmy Gait; hard pressed to find nourishment for bleeding ears. I knew for a fact this kiddo had no idea who Plumb, Don Moen, Ron Kenoly and Switchfoot were; she had not grown up on Family FM and Hope FM. She did not imagine that trap could be a tool used to capture prey, she had not spent hours trying to sing Lenny LeBlanc’s ‘Above all’ for her PPI class. There was a generation of musical heritage missing from her platter; no Gaithers, no Fred Hammond, John Kee; she had no idea why Mark Cohn was walking in Memphis or who Diana Ross was telling to stop in the name of love. I doubt whether Donnie Mcclurkin or Robin Mark have ever made it into her iPod. I forced Alice Kimanzi in there along with Elan and Mwanga, to bemused queries of “kwani saizi Elani wanaimba gospel?” Hehe, sigh.
I could have given her the norm, your everyday radio pop and afro something but then she hears that every day I figured. So why not dig into the archives and let her enjoy music for the ages? If your friend has ever asked for your phone to play music, you understand the fear; what if they hate it, what if they think you’re not cool or with it? Your library has been painstakingly sourced from far and wide, your precious as Gollum would say. It speaks of what you love and who you are. So you can imagine how much of an old geezer I felt when recommending said video to these teen youngin’ whose ringtone is some chap I couldn’t comprehend screeching like a car coming to a sudden halt over some ‘sick’ beat. Skree skree.
Therein began an interesting discourse. So Dom, what’s your opinion on open marriages? Huh? Wait, weren’t we on music? Apparently we were on everything. Faith, sex, worldviews, love, hate, responsibility, purpose, meaning, lust…you name it. Over the course of 3 years we had passionate disagreements, discussions and vulnerable heart to hearts. I’ve been here before, talking to teenagers at the crossroads. It’s hard, sometimes frustrating work; but darn it if it isn’t fulfilling. The aforementioned cousin tagged me on Instagram for the first time last week, doing an amazing cover of Wonderful, Merciful, Saviour. She who had been too ashamed to be associated with ‘ol boy as I was not ‘cool enough for her feed’; si nililala na viatu. An a capella and sweet worship; I was so proud.
She made me promise not to reveal her identity here, nor post the video of her crying at her baptism. I’ll respect that. So let me talk to you now. Are you say, 12 to x years old, female, and confused about life? Yes? Read on. If not, worry not, we’re an all-inclusive joint here at the Batcave; read on as well…and return your sister’s phone, it’s no longer funny.
Everyone and their avocado have an opinion. On everything! How you should dress, walk, talk, who to date, where to school, work, when to marry, how many kids to have, where to take them to school, where to shop, go to church, not to go to church, travel…sheesh; it is a lot. But keep calm and trust. If ever anyone went through life having completely figured it out, I must’ve missed it. We’re all messy lumps of clay (except maybe Alice Kimanzi, she’s a lump of gold aki and Kaluhi Adagala; that one is a beautiful scoop of avocado). We all make mistakes, trudging along the corridor of chaos trying to get a grip on the walls of uncertainty; don’t let this engulf you. The storms of life come fast and thick, don’t let them bury you. For this you must have faith.
Faith in what exactly? Money, career, beauty, love, power, independence, achievement, family, friendships, education, talent, religion, intellect? While all these things may give you temporary security, satisfaction and sense of significance; believe me when I recount the words of King Solomon, “tis all vanity!” There was a boy who once asked me how a man with that many women could be dissatisfied, what about the wealth? Was it not enough? The truth, shocking as it may be, is no. For anyone you consider the apex of their field, who pursued that with a singularity of purpose forsaking all else, observe closely what happens just after their peak; there is almost a sense of betrayal. “Is this it, is this all I get?” This is oft the cry. It’s loneliest at the top of the world they say. Alexander conquered most of the modern world, and for what? Tesla, arguably the greatest inventor ever, was consumed by insurmountable grief and died miserably. So the list goes on; Michael Jackson, Prince, Pablo Escobar, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Williams, Ernest Hemingway (not to be confused with Baba Thandie), Kurt Cobain, Guru Dutt, Steve Jobs etc. I’ll draw your attention to one particular case, that of Brad Delp of the band Boston; his suicide note said simply, “I am a lonely soul.” 1 in 1 will die; the question is will we live when we leave? And until then who are you?
What do I know about women or faith? Of the former, absolutely nothing; the only woman I’ve ever understood was my mother. So I shall dwell on faith. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I define faith as the naive, absolute trust in Jesus Christ. Once I was asked, “do you have to bring up Jesus in everything dude?” What does He have to do with global warming, making homemade milk shakes or college applications? Well, when you view the world through the eyes of Love you cannot fail to see His fingerprints and workmanship everywhere. I care for wildlife and the environment because He made them, I don’t Google most of my recipes; instead like my dad, the inspiration for most meals comes from the Master Chef. Yes! The Father rejoices in seeing the joy it brings to enjoy food He has provided.
What do Catholics have in common with those folks celebrating Sister Rosa’s resurrection? How about those folks in the Advent, why is their music different from the glamorous Pentecostal Church pop scene? Honestly? I steer clear of arguments on religion. My faith is based on two facts I hold eternally true: I am a great sinner and Jesus is my only salvation. The rest is a beautiful journey following the Master; unique to me as yours is to you. If you can look past the inevitable disappointment humanity will serve you, the sadness tragedy brings and the despair that occasionally afflicts us all; Christ is the light that will guide you home. The rest? The rest is living. Living in faith.
1. Delightful sound: One of my favourite bands of all time comes out of Russellville, Arkansas in the shape of Deas Vail. Boasting rich melodies, ethereal harmonies and agonizingly beautiful lyrics the collective fronted by classically trained vocalist Wesley Blaylock continue to bless. Sixteen, God rest ye merry gentlemen, Shoreline, Atlantis, Still, Do you hear what I hear, Birds and The things you were are but a few of their best works. I personally recommend you start with Light as Air and Desire. Sweet!
2. Must watch: Becoming one of the highest grossing franchises of all time while scooping Oscars at will; Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings is universally acknowledged as film royalty. I subscribe to an annual pilgrimage of the extended version in epic 1080p, it deserves no less. Long before Wonder Woman, Katniss Everdeen, Wasp, Jean Grey and Storm there was Eowyn, Galadriel and Arwen, who fought the evil of Morgoth and Sauron in Middle Earth.
3. Worthy read: In a world of Ugandan school mischief, journey with the enigma that is Moses. A fine product of Mukibi’s Educational Institute for the Sons of African Gentleman; along with King Kong, Itchy Fingers and Rukia, follow as the late great Barbara Kimenye tells the most hilarious story told to young adults all over Africa. I literally literary lost myself in these books as a child and I still laugh myself silly reading them today. Enjoy!
You don’t think I’d forget the subject of this story did you? For Ruth, the first woman of faith I knew, and all daughters of the Most High, He who began the good work in you will be faithful to complete it: