By Nicholas Phiri
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. King James Version (KJV)
It all clearly started with T-Sean and T-Boy’s Joe Chibangu featuring 90 Days that in part says:
Sinili monga baja bamabwela daily
Kukunama nopromisa sunny day
Kuseni upindamuka upeza palibe (mu 90 Days)
Kaleza pali wewo
Va uMr Baila ningavufake
Ningakushangile mutengo wa Brazilian hair
Elo every Sunday
Tizayamba kupemphelera kuli TB Joshua
Osati pa Northmead wapayapo naka suit
Monga Kings Malambe
(I’m not like hose that come daily
Promising you a sunny day
When you awake in the morning
You find it’s inexistent (in 90 days)
I swear upon you
Being Mr Baila I can put aside
I’ll plant for you the Brazilian hair tree
So that you look sexy constantly
And every Sunday
We will worship at TB Joshua’s
Not in Northmead
Dressed in a tight suit)
One could be wondering already why this column has taken this turn this week. My focus in the next few issues is on politically-charged songs, particularly those of Petersen Zagaze.
I will study these songs not as music but as poetry. This is because I am a literary critique as opposed to a musicologist. The lyrics in the songs are of utmost importance and will be the basis of the entire discussion.
A striking element of piece is the use of over-exaggeration commonly referred to as the hyperbole in literary appreciation. The poet seems to suggest that the ’90 Days’ promises were a series of hyperboles that do not bear any resemblance with reality. He says:
Nipaseko chabe 90 days
Bazakudabwa uzankhala chimu lady (kaili more money in your pockets)
kuti bokosi yako yichoke mokwana
(laughs) it sounds so crazy, yeah
Anything you can ask I can do for ya
Only give me 90 days
They will all be surprised
As you will turn into a lady (since it’s more money in your pockets)
I will buy medicines
To manipulate your hips with
For a maximum lady-figure
I know this sounds crazy
But anything you will ask, I will do for you)
The mere mention of ‘90 days’ links this track with the current political dispensation in the country. The poet seems to be talking about the campaign promises of the Patriotic Front (PF).
This becomes obvious at the mention of the campaign slogan of ‘More Money in Your Pockets’ that made many people prefer the opposition political party to many other possible choices including the ruling party.
In the case of this discussion, what is most important is to link the promises in the poem with the real world.
While it is well acknowledged that poetry is a composition that aims at surpassing reality, the fact that this is a parody of the campaign promises of the PF and the mention of impossible feats suggest that the party promised more than it could offer. The use of the hyperbole is qualified by the poet’s saying, ‘Anything you ask I can do for ya.’
This would be said to be too much because in reality one would expect someone to say, ‘Anything you can ask I can do for you provided it is within my means.’
Though, it should be noted that such an inclusion would not only take away the poetic effect, it would also create an escape path in the event that things fail to work out as promised.
Since we are discussing a piece that directly appears to come from and reflect two different realms, the literary conventions and the social-political manipulations of society, it becomes difficult to say which one should take precedence over the other.
It remains important to note that the poet in this case will only go as far as his aims require him to.
The chief aim of the poet in this particular case is not to win the supposed audience on his side, that is the girl he is proposing to, he is actually interested in mocking the falsity in the campaign promises of the PF. He seems to suggest that the party promised impossibilities.
Realising that he has gone too far, he responds on behalf of the girl, he giggles. It seems clear to him too that what he has said is impossible but it is difficult for him to change because he knows this is the only way he can get her.
He asks, ‘It sounds so crazy, yeah?’ how can a suitor ask such a question if they are not in doubt of what they are saying?
The suitor here is fully aware that this girl should be a fool to believe him. As we have noted above, it is not possible for him to turn back at this point.
And, since he knows that what he has said has been detected, and the lies in it discerned, he goes further than that. He goes on for the material wishes of the girl.
He promises public resources to someone who is merely going to bed him. In this case, he points at a flashy lifestyle hence promises of flying her to Dubai for shopping. He further promises her shoes, cars, and jobs for relatives.
There seems to be a blur between who the girl is and the family. It seems there is a thin line between the speaker and the girl. One would think that the promises to the girl are personal promises and the girl merely represents the powerful electorate.
One notable quality in the speaker’s ability to convince her is his making it open to her to leave if she is not satisfied with him. He has maintained:
Ngati suzanikonda ungabwelele
Mu 90 days
(If you won’t love me
You may leave me
In 90 days)
One important element of successful rhetoric is humility or what we may term politeness. The speaker should not present oneself with pomposity. He should be able to say he is not ultimate. Remember Anthony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser who claims:
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men’s blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Caesar’s wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.
Antony’s refusal of who he really is turns out to be the power to show who he really is. Mr Baila in this song has given her a choice either to choose him or not.
Honestly, how possible is it for her to turn him down if he has promised so much yet still telling her she can leave if she feels she does not love him?
This song was released far more than three months after the PF’s ascendance to the throne. The creation of the song seems to have been inspired by the expectations in many from the new government but it turned out the opposite was the result.
The poet’s suggestion is that the people were promised heaven and hell was delivered in its stead. Could this be a warning that when the deal is too good it probably is?