Friday, 05 June 2020 19:00
Estonian Life No. 22 2020 - Otepää Silm
Man, that USA. Home of the blues, jazz and r-and-b. All influenced, composed and recorded by those whose forebears were forcibly brought from Africa in the interest of capitalism. Slavery is the worst legacy of the country, one that to this day is still seen by some as the bastion of opportunity and freedom. As events in our emancipated age have shown, equality is still a myth.
But then again, what do you expect from a nation that brought us Mickey D’s, Walmart and socialmedia? All the cultural accomplishments, beyond the musical ones noted, are tarnished by the greed of the privileged. And the land of the free has done a lot of good, even though its lustre has been tarnished greatly by bankers and politicians. Music, though, is what keeps this heart pumping happily and the body slender.
The slimster usually avoids politics like the plague. Whoops, we are living in infected times, are we not? Beyond politics, that is. It is with chagrin that we have to view the uprisings, yet again, south of the border. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Violence is not the answer. Nor is answering that with the threat of more, backed by the state. But the oppressed do not stay down, for a reason.
No wonder then, that the mind went to the Jimmy Cliff classic movie “The Harder They Come” and its timeless soundtrack. The lean one dug it up, having a choice of three various formats – vinyl, cassette (only for personal use) and CD. The movie, while no great shakes technically is honest, a true representation of poor Jamaicans.
Many remember the original Rodney riots – not in Los Angeles and beyond, associated with a man whose last name was King - but in Kingston, Jamaica, October 1968. The Rodney there was the last name of a professor (first name Walter) who was banned from teaching at a university there. The riots inspired the 1970 Black Power Revolution in Trinidad and Tobago. The work of an American minister, also ironically named King had an impact. But ‘nuff history, look it up yourself, but do listen to Jimmy Cliff on YouTube if you so wish.
For the comparison, 50+ years later, is chilling. Beyond the meaning of the title track, (partial lyrics – “the oppressors are tryin’ to keep me down”) check out Desmond Dekker’s “Shanty Town” The chorus of that simple, but effective, powerful tune is “dem a loot, dem a shoot, in shanty town”. Kingston was mostly slum (shanty in caribbianese); police were trying to quell rioters and looters. On orders from the government.
Far too many people, far too many races, have suffered in the name of greed. Many, Estonians and Jamaicans (temporarily) here included, did find freedom, through song. Forgive the philosophy on top of history expressed here. The slimster is human after all, just like all others, who do not know which way to turn at a peculiar and difficult time. Remember the lyrics of Me ‘n’ Bobby McGee – freedom is another word for nothing left to lose. Remember also Kris Kristofferson and The Burden of Freedom.
Let us all achieve freedom peacefully. Estonians did so with the singing revolution. Let us hope for a similar outcome everywhere. Brothers, not in arms, but in peace. No looting, no fires, no armed resistance. Pigmentation is irrelevant, understanding each other is what is needed.Otepää Silm