Did Jesus just leave Chicago?
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, November 28, 2018
“Jesus just left Chicago, and he’s bound for New Orleans, out to California through the forests and the pines. Ah, take me with you, Jesus.” These are the lyrics to a song I listened to recently during a ride in an Uber to downtown South Bend. The driver enjoyed every bit of this loud music, and I could not resist the temptation of tapping my feet to the good sound. This was the latest of the American tracks which I have fallen in love with, having grown up listening to a lot of American music. I have since developed an assumption that music is a true reflection of the social realities around our societies. It would be implausible to assume that most of the residents of Chicago have received Jesus as their personal Lord and savior. Let alone to presume that he is more welcome or needed in New Orleans. Nonetheless, we can’t simply ignore the impact that social interaction has on their music preferences.
This week, I was thrilled to learn that pop star Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana. I remember his music was very popular in Uganda during my childhood over two decades ago. The fallacy behind his music, which was promoted by his electric videos, was that he was a devil worshipper. Many of the teenagers in English-speaking East Africa states of Kenya and Uganda followed American hip-hop music. I remember the lyrics were very strong and insinuated some form of oppression against the rappers. This, therefore, would lead us to believe that the rappers hailed from communities were they were socially excluded, discriminated against and racially oppressed. But what would motivate petrifying names like C-Murder, Big Punisher or even Ghostface Killah.
Music has the power to drive policy and attitudes in society. I always reflected on lyrics of Wyclef Jean: “If I was president, I’d get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday, they go back to work on Monday.” Firstly, there’s a strong sentiment of resentment toward the leaders in many parts of the world. In the U.S., there is free speech, which means that people can openly criticize their leaders and government. This is not the case in countries like Uganda and Tanzania, where I live. Content that is “annoying” or that “leads to public disorder” might easily get one into jail. On the other hand, there is this most important role of music, which is to entertain. In practice, we can’t separate education and information from the entertainment industry. Neither can we divorce politics from entertainment.
Recently, I was amazed at how some of Kanye West’s fans reacted to his meeting with President Trump. Believe it or not, many artists have been either openly or secretly involved in the politics of their states or countries. To a large extent, this might be a reflection of the views of their communities, and not necessarily fans. On this note, I wish Jesus had not left Chicago for New Orleans. I wish he would not leave the Fighting Irish forever.
Tonny Raymond Kirabira
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.