Mourning Michael Jackson

By Thursday evening, his death was not just the main topic of discussion in offices and maxi-taxis, but Town went into an impromptu memorial of the man with everyone with a sound system playing his songs. The bars of Independence Square played his hits, as did mobile CD vendors, while a dozen people gathered around a portable DVD player at the Charlotte Street corner to view one of his concerts and reminisce. Local radio stations also broadcast his hits. Many people said they were very sorry at his death, although a few others were upset at Jackson over the still-unresolved question of his alleged molestation of boys.

We can say a lot was unknown about Michael Jackson. While he was hugely successful in crafting a stage image, there were many serious questions about his private life. It seems that away from the stage and his millions of adoring fans, he was probably a lonely soul, and probably someone with deep psychological issues.

He had superb control over his fancy foot-work in his trademark “Moonwalk” dance, but apparently lacked self-control in his personal life in areas as diverse as his obsessive plastic surgery or his flagrant spending.

It seems that while Jackson brought joy to millions of people, he himself was a disturbed man. In mourning him, is it possible for us all to just remember the good he did, and to overlook his personal failings? You must decide.

Jackson was regarded as the “King of Pop” and his passing is being mourned like that of a global monarch, and certainly more than one could traditionally ever expect of any real Head of State. So, what made him so great?

Jackson’s music spanned five decades during which time he was able to reinvent not just his style of music, but his very persona. Today’s grandmothers will remember the cute Afro-haired little boy leading the Jackson Five singing, “The Love You Save” and “Got to be there”. Fans in their forties even today will find it hard to keep still upon hearing the infectious bass-line of “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”, punctuated by the heartthrob Jackson’s trade-mark scream, “Oo- oo!”

Younger adults will recall the excitement of his “Thriller” years when, clad in a red space-age outfit, he danced among zombies, plus the moral ambiguities spelt out in “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”. Even today’s smallest child will still be mesmerised by his magic of his moonwalk. He was a master showman.

Jackson also tried to do good, asking us to open our hearts and wallets for famine-ravaged Africa in “We Are the World”. He also helped improve race relations through not just the obvious appeal of lyrics of songs such as “Ebony and Ivory,” but through the sheer joy of his music down the generations that appealed to people of all different types of background.

Jackson was surely one of the many hands that built bridges to heal the racial rift in the US that laid the groundwork for the eventual election of that country’s first ever black/mixed race US President, Barack Obama.

So, what, if anything, is Jackson’s legacy.

We leave a few words to ponder, from his hit, “Heal the World” (1991).

“Heal The World, Make It A Better Place;

For You And For Me, And The Entire Human Race;

There Are People Dying;

If You Care Enough for The Living;

Make A Better Place;

For You And For Me.”


"Mourning Michael Jackson"

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