Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Beacon

Good week everybody! It was a particularly good week for me that passed by on account of the fact that it’s been raining cats and dogs all week. Why? Because it’s cooled the whole place down from the soaring temperatures of the previous weeks. My work doesn’t suffer as I leave the house at five am when there’s little traffic to return at eleven at night. Sadly the week was coloured in no small measure by the demise of a great personality I’d admired from childhood, Michael Jackson.

My tribute to him would be to try to relate how he affected me on a personal level starting from my childhood days when the Billie Jean video came out. His moves in it were incredible and everyone in my school tried as much as possible to enact it including me to the utter irritation of my parents. I ruined so many of my dad’s jackets and trench coats – he refused to get me the leather jackets he was famed for. Funny enough, quite unlike him, my dad never punished us, my brothers and I, for depleting his wardrobe for such ‘trivial’ pursuits. We’d steal my mother’s powder, talcum, dusting – all sorts, take off to school, pour them liberally on the classroom floor and begin practicing the moonwalk, the backslide (as we called it then) and the helicopter. For a not so good dancer as I was then – still struggling -, the talcum proved invaluable for making floors mirror smooth and shiny, making my slides and spins. I make bold to say I can still my own today when it comes to the backslide and the moonwalk although I never could get beyond one and a half spins before finishing up in that tiptoe standstill pose he ended his routine with in the video. Ah, those were the days.

His energy and belief with which he sang always sent me to subliminal levels when I listened to his songs especially Dirty Diana, Beat it and Earth Song. At first I sort of hated him because he was just too good looking and had the most wonderful smile. I think it was because I felt so threatened that he’d get all the pretty girls; it didn’t matter that we’d probably never be in direct competition with one another. Actually I was justified in my animosity towards him because all the girls in my school were going gaga over him – not a good boost to my self esteem. It was therefore with shock, and relief, that I welcomed his 1987 album BAD; he looked so different! Gone was that characteristic chocolate complexion that accentuated that dazzling smile and in its place was this very pale almost unrecognizable caricature of the former. My initial elation was quickly replaced by the concern that the music of this incredible man would follow the stark metamorphosis of his physical looks. The Dirty Diana video proved me wrong. The raw energy that emanated from that waiflike body was astounding! I watched mesmerized as MJ strutted and whirled in perfect unison with the psychedelic wailing of the lead guitar. I didn’t move a muscle, I just sat there drinking in every iota of energy that was coming out of him and observed how he abandoned himself completely to his music. I knew I probably would never be able to sing like him but I stored that passion in my heart promising myself to someday, as only a shy person could, even if it was just once, express myself without inhibition for all the world to see. His music became a safety net or should I say a compass that sort of guided me along the path to relentlessly pursue truth through passion and belief and I think that made me the unwavering follower I was, and still am, through his many controversies.

Personally, I don’t think Michael ever grew older than twelve throughout his life. The kid that was never allowed to play and do all the things that children do to be able to make the transition into adulthood never left him and I think that was what made him live the “Peter Pan- like” life that he did. It was because of this that I never really believed his love songs like, "You Are Not Alone" or "You Rock My World."
I didn’t because I didn’t believe he knew what really loving a woman as a partner meant. I knew how I felt about girls when I was in my childhood. They were the most irritating beings to be with; they loved flowers, talked all day about stupid things like love, wanted you to hold their hands and sing silly songs like “Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea” and one had to behave himself around them. All I wanted was play with my toys, ride bikes and dream of racing cars. I could see that aversion towards the opposite sex, for the same reasons, in Michael throughout his life. I admired the resolute and level headed way he talked when he answered his critics and accusers. He never faltered in his convictions and stood firm in the midst of the numerous accusations and slurs, and they were legion, that dogged his life. He believed absolutely in everything he did and that for me is the mark of a great man.

I believe that life is too short to be influenced by what people think of you. I believe that one should carefully consider what mission one has to accomplish in this world and look to what talent one has to bring it to effect. Having found this, I believe that the one should pursue it to the utmost while living life to the full. One should also be able to learn from mistakes and be brave enough to continually assess his or her intrinsic motives and mental progress. Adieu Michael Jackson, may you finally find the peace you’ve long sought for. Have a great week everyone.


  1. Kudos!!! And you thought you possibly couldn't come up with something befitting and here it is a very wonderful, heartfelt, eloquent, lucid expression of what MJ meant to you and his contribution to your youth as well as your perspective on his life.

    To me, Michael was courageous beyond believe because of the life he lived, a life that probed, prodded, bought, sold, ridiculed and placed under an eternal spot light. I don't think anyone of us could have lived under such pressure with an amazing grace, dignity, stoic resolve as well as passion. His life was one to be desired, admired but feared.

    In my own personal account, I had MJ posted on my wall, I too endeavored to do the moonwalk (backslide) to the consternation of my grandmother who didn't think such dances were befitting of a young lady besides I was yet to master the Ekombi (Efik traditional dance) and she thought that took precedence over any white man's dance (black or white if you were from overseas, you were a white man to my grandma), I was both mesmerized and scared of the thriller video but I wanted to be Ola Ray and have MJ save me hopefully from something less fearful as zombies, the only thing I refused to copy from MJ was the jheri curls:) As the years went by and he changed his looks I continued to love him even though I didn't understand why he would want to white wash (for a lack of a better word) his beautiful caramel complexion and straightened his nose. I was disappointed that the love we all had for him the way he was wasn't enough but hey to each his own, abi? He had to be happy with himself and if that fed his gifts then I was happy to oblige.

    I believe that for once in his life, Michael Joseph Jackson is now truly happy, truly at peace. The pain he tried to medicate has now been abated. I pray that he is resting comfortably in the bosom of our father Abraham...either that or he's conducting the heavenly choir and showing some cherubs the latest choreography on heaven's dance floor.


  2. I have to say this is one of the best (if not the best) MJ tribute I've read since his demise...totally love the way u wove this into ur own childhood story...weldone Kalu!

  3. Michael!!!!!!!!!!!!! that's all I can say!!!:-(

  4. Kalu, again i am amazed at your writing talents. Not only are you a brilliant actor, but also an excellent writer. Why dont you think about writing home videos or better still a soap. I have told you several times that 'Friends', the Nigerian version will be a hit. Mark my words.
    Yours truely Dekunle C

  5. Nice write up.
    MJ will be missed forever.

  6. You were really a ring leader K’! Powder on the floor…? wish I had tried that too with my sisters’powder, probably would have been dead meat too! But it’s good to know that u are among the billions who had such fond memories of him and did not allow the law suits against him to change that.

    …over a decade ago while re-writing my WAEC in the village, I was taking a break from reading and listening to the rave of the moment – “Tevin Campbel” when this young man dressed in boxers and t-shirt strolled into the family’s store where I had to work. He greeted me and sat down. He tapped his feet and nodded his head to the song for a few minutes and asked "that is Michael Jackson?" I said no. 'Is it his sister Janet Jackson?" i smiled and said no again. “Latoya?” I patiently said no. As I bent my head to go back to my books for want of something to do, he blurted out "is it the Jackson five?” I blinked at my books with surprise and said (in my mind "Hell No! Where is this guy from anyway?") No! He thought again for a while and proceeded to tell me about how MJ is the greatest musician that ever lived! I got home that evening and recounted what happened at the store. As I described his dressing, they started laughing and told me I had been charting with “Otistic” the MADMAN!

    I remember “Otistic” this period because he reminded me that MJ can be literarily called a ‘STAR’ seen by everyone who simply looks up at the sky; sane or insane.

    For most of us, MJ wasn’t about Pop, he was about a music and style that satisfied the soul! And that will forever be in our hearts!

    A very nice piece!

  7. Michael was a good man. He didnt deserve all that stress. I really hope he's resting somewhere..

  8. stealth reader here
    i feel a part of me will always be in shock, even though he looked so frail he somehow seemed invincible to me, i guess thats what happens when you put passion and uninhibition to your gift or talent you become superhuman. he is a realer superhero to me than Batman or wolverine is to me (lol am into super heroes...dats sayiin something). i have also lost an ally in our quest for eternal youth, i just wish his life cud have been happier and he cud have done without all d negativity but then MJ is a topic dat brings out a whole lot of emotions. but i just loved his ability to love.

  9. Nice write up. I pray he finds the peace he craved so much for!

  10. What a beautifully written piece! I want to thank you for writing this! Well done!! This was absolutely beautiful, Kalu. MJ was my most favorite performer of all time, all we've heard is negativity since his death- it made my heart happy to read this.
    I pray that he rests in peace...