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Valentine’s: musicians take credit for keeping love alive

If there is anyone who deserves a Valentine’s Day’s glowing tribute, it is the musicians. From the rural musicians in the dingy busaa clubs to those of International fame in the glowing lights of Hollywood. They have kept the fire of love glowing over time with their endless creativity, hope and inspiring songs.  They have kept love so strong and given lovers a chance to believe, a reason to live and a pillar of love to hold on to. Indeed they have made the world go round. Love music has surpassed the test of time expressing love in its deepest, tenderest and most delicate of ways.

From my favourite Dolly Parton’s “Just Because I am a Woman” to Roger Whittaker, Kenny Rogers, Millie Jackson, Al Green, Late Whitney Houston, Osogo Winyo, Tony Nyadundo, Lady Maureen, Queen Jane, Wa Maria, Samba Mapangala, Late D. O. Owino Misiani, Katitu Boys, late Daudi Kabaka, Dola Kabari, Iddi Achieng, George Ramogi, Osito Kalle, late Michael Jackson, Jacob Luseno, Okach Biggy, Olova Makadem, Bana Sungusa, Gogo Simu, Jacob Luseno, Nana Moskouri, Khadija Omar Kopa, Malika Mohamed, Franco, Shala Mwana, Sam Mangwana, Fally Ipupa, Musa Juma, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Mbilia Bel, Jackie Akinyi, Orchestre Mangelepa and the awesome Lionel Richie…the list is endless but let’s just say everyone has their favourite musician and their favourite love songs.

Dolly Parton made us bond in College as women especially when we went through our first heartbreaks. It was the days of Coackroaches (nickname for male students in Campus who would sneak into the female hostels into as many rooms as possible at night for their sexual escapades only to go talking about it outside the slabs of Jomo Kenyatta Library). As one walked past them into the lecture rooms they would say how cheap and useless you were and they would burst out laughing. Many women students would console their misery by playing Dolly Parton’s “Just Because I am a Woman.” The song sunk deep into the abyss of a broken heart.”So when you look at me, don’t feel sorry for yourself. I was just a victim of a man who let me down. So let me tell you this, so we both know where we stand. My mistakes are no worse than yours, just because I am a Woman”. ‘ Nana Moskouri’s “I never will Marry” was another great hit for broken souls. Her high pitched descant mellow voice was quite consoling  especially for women who despite all attempts at love could not get a handsome young man to marry them. “They say that love is a gentle thing. To me it brought only pain. Since the only man I have ever loved. Has gone in the morning train. I never will marry. I’ll be no man’s wife. I will remain single for the rest of my life.” Still remains a hit with elderly spinsters.

Love has disappointed many but musicians always came up with the right lyrics to console, encorage and ensure that love was never thrown into the dustbins of forgotten history.

I don’t know who sang this song, but in my world of Romance it rocked. And among my friends we could not remember all the words so we fitted in the gaps with our own words as long as it made meaning in our lives. “‘I’ve been lonesome, I’ve an etching. I’ve got an aching. Deep down inside. I need someone. Someone to hold me. Take off your shoes turn off the lights and love me tonight.’ (Lol). Climax. ‘Don’t think about tomorrow it don’t matter any more. We can lock our feet and close the world outside the door. I need you so now. Come on and hold me. Switch off the lights. Let’s lock the door and love me tonight.” (There was no U-tube to give you the original words.) We did not have CDs and casettes apart from the privileged few and once it played in John Obongo’s Sundowner at 6pm every evening, you just had to wait another day or two to hear the word again.

“And then we just fell in love with the coffee song. Soon after the song hit the airwaves, True love meant drinking a cup of coffee. It was a show of class and a loving soul in love and ready to be loved. “There’s a storm running over the hills, the willow trees are moaning. I am standing here staring at the window safe and warm. Oh I’ve got a good woman and we got a good fire burning. So let it rain, let the rain fall…the rain…’ And we would all wait for the part that sang, “coffee coming from the kitchen”and that simple phrase would just make one’s day.

Lionel Ritchie just made the Romantic juices flow like a sweet wild dream. ‘I am a lonely stranger lost and all alone. I am a million miles away! I know you are waiting for me to come home again. But I am searching for an answer. Please try to understand, I love you. You love me. Someday we could make it together. Just you and me!” And the you and me would just be those reckless classmates of yours who attended classes in slippers and faded jeans and Tee-shirt.

Of course tribute goes to the musicians like Okach Biggy and Otieno Rachar who went out of their way to create special lyrics in praise of  women with fat bums. Otieno Rachar’s original composition “Adhiambo Sianda (Adhiambo’s Buttocks) was such a great hit in Kenya until the Government banned it on the airwives.

Musicians like Owino Misiani experienced true love and risked their lives while singing praises for the women and men they loved.

Yet some artists have sang praises for women, describing their wide big eyes, their thready long hair, their tantalising lips and kisses, their gentle walking styles. Some beg their lovers just to send them their beautiful pictures and some can simply not fall asleep as they dream of good times shared with their lovers. And where love is elusive musicians have traveled the journey in their music searching for their loved ones. Ohangla Sensation Lady Maureen the daughter of Alego laments and mourns for her lover Opiyo. It is a personal experience and only she knows why she cannot forget Opiyo. Benga Artist Dola Kabbary son of Adhiambo searches for his lover-girl Adundo Mum from Busia, to Kakamega, to Bomet, to Nakuru, down to the Coast and far away in Tanzania yet he cannot find her. “Adundo Mum, what’s wrong my love, please tell me. If I have sinned please forgive me and take me back into your love life.” He sings as he dies of a broken heart. Loneliness, the pain of not having one’s love returned. The frustrations and desperations of being alone when you could be two. For Osogo Winyo, it is Two by two…in the table of love, three is a boring crowd. Two, Two Two. You and I love. Only Two.

Whatever the song: Sexual Healing is Good For You, Amanda Light of My Life, Love Me Is The Feeling Now, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Caro Nyamwaya, Embakasi Mi Nakwenda oo Moraa. Whatever song, whatever the love theme, whatever the love lyric…we owe it to our musicians. Love, so weet when it happens, so bitter when it walks away. Love, so permanent yet so temporary. Happy Valentine’s Day with your favourite musician.

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