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Wacko Jacko and Peter Pan

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th July 2009 03:00 AM

The Baganda, from whom I am firmly descended say, “Okutambula kulaba, okudda kunyumya”, “To travel is to see, to return is to converse.”

The Baganda, from whom I am firmly descended say, “Okutambula kulaba, okudda kunyumya”, “To travel is to see, to return is to converse.”

By John Nagenda

The Baganda, from whom I am firmly descended say, “Okutambula kulaba, okudda kunyumya”, “To travel is to see, to return is to converse.”

Your columnist has been travelling in Europe this last month (Germany, Ireland, England) and might have used this opportunity to converse about many things. The state of their economies (dire), the greed of British parliamentarians which has mesmerised and shocked their country (how does it compare with our own?!); the need to raise the Queen’s annual budget by many million pounds sterling, and Her Majesty is famous for frugality, (running a country, and what its leadership needs for this, never come cheap!).

But the whole of this week’s offering is given over to the death of a spindly near-recluse, aiming at a comeback, whose death shook the world like no other in the history of Earth.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross 20 centuries ago, the effect on the world’s population was not overwhelming, although its observance down the years is altogether a different matter.

When Galileo passed on, and Sophocles, and the Makers of Thought, Ancient and Modern, and the Painters; the Scientific discoverers of Penicillin and other wonder drugs, the result was not on the same seismic scale. When notorious mass murderers, Stalin, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Amin, cashed in their chips, the news travelled the world but not with the same fire. You would certainly come closer with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, closer still with the Makers of Music (not Bach, Mozart, Beethoven) but, especially, Elvis: Elvis Presley. But even with that mighty figure of Popular Music, the Death of Michael Jackson a fortnight ago held the world’s throat more tightly, and is keeping it held longer, than any of the above.

The reasons for this will be the stuff of Degrees, and will research into no less than the mind and thought of Humanity itself; of what people, of their own free will, feel and do in the face of events.
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When Michael Jackson died, even as the news was just starting to break in the Media in a hydrogen-bomb frenzy of activity, my London hostess (whose grandmother had coincidentally pushed my pram 70 years ago in Gahini, Rwanda) rushed into the sitting room. There the host, the Irishman well-known to this column, and your columnist, were idly watching the TV. “Michael is dead, Michael is dead!” she kept screaming. Which Michael was this? “Of course Michael Jackson! My friend just phoned me.”

With me it took time to sink in. Truth to tell, for me he had “died” long before: when he set to bleaching himself white. The last straw had been the wilful altering of his nose, snub end added, to make himself a white kid indeed! Unfortunately (by Will of God?) the nose resolutely refused to “set”, and, according to the media, was constantly in danger of falling off altogether. What a scenario! Now, God forgive me, I laughed: “Could it be when he went to draw breath the little nose wasn’t there?”

The Irishman was inclined to take an equally jocular line, even Madam sometimes joined in, but tearfully. I phoned home to Uganda, where the news had not yet broken, and was told, “My God, it must be the nose!”

Another person phoned the hostess and pronounced that the nose had killed Jackson. Soon the death news hit the screen before us, and we began sobering up fast, the more so when old film of the long-ago Jackson Five came on, joyfully singing and tapping away: so much infectious joy, with the eye mostly on Michael, hardly five. What a mover, the older he grew, through “Thriller” most of all, but other videos also: the song, the dance (more than dance: total movement) the sheer exuberance of Michael Jackson!

Now, at 50, lying dead! Slowly, by Osmosis, the heart started to break, along with billions around the globe. People who knew him well came to the screen, some in celebration, all in pity, and many with tears down their faces.

Uri Geller, who used “to bend spoons” said, “Mind, he could drive you mad… But he was a genius, there was none to touch him…” When he once asked him his need to change, to transform, himself, even down to the pigmentation and shape of his face, “Michael recounted to me how, five or younger he stood by the window watching other little kids playing, but whom his father forbade him to play with, ever!”

Everything was rehearsal, rehearsal. Later, he was driven to look as far different from his father as was humanly possible. The mind leaps to another driven Dad, Richard Williams, and how by a rod of iron he drove his daughters, Venus and Serena, to the very pinnacle of tennis. But they love and adore him. “Wacko Jacko” then: as they called Michael Jackson? Definitely he strode too far in his journey to re-invent himself, as if even that was necessary. But who rules the heart?

And “Peter Pan”? He wanted his youth back, or better still, he wanted his youth, period. The core of his greatness lay embedded there. What’s more he always sought perfection in his work, and how the videos show it! He had signed on for 50 (fifty!) concerts, each of them of detailed perfection, in the coming months, mostly to pay off his immense debts. This was an impossible obscenity: the usual leeches waiting in the wings for their litre of blood. That is how the great Boy-Man, Michael Jackson, RIP, left this world!

Wacko Jacko and Peter Pan

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