A TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON – A METEORITE!

FARE-THEE-WELL IN PERFECT, PEACEFUL REPOSE!

Though he had been in celebrated, acclaimed, public world-stage and view for, at least, the last forty-years, his appearance at the age of nine was like that of a meteorite – a Comet – unexpected as a flash! Now, he has disappeared just as he came - quickly and silently; and just as the world was getting ready to watch one more of his usually unique performances, which he had announced would be his last curtain-raiser. That was, in his last press conference, when he said: “See you in July”. By some stroke of fate, his last curtain-raiser came just at the nick of time! Was it the fulfillment of prophesy?

Michael Jackson’s choreography is the like of what is found only in the Dances of Igboland of Nigeria! For instance, in the 1950’s, there was a young boy – slim and strong - employed by one Patent Medicine Dealer, to sing and dance to draw crowds, to whom he would advertize and sell his medicines. His singing and choreographic displays were intricate and captivating, prancing all over the place.

His performances were so lithe and sleek that he was nicknamed: “Stinging Mosquito”; and his Dancing: “Ajasco”. In appreciation of his unique, untutored, performances, some people would toss one-penny or a three pence piece, to him, for himself. That was the end of it for that boy and his ilk because, the culture did not encourage making a profession of such a talent.

Though that art of selling patent medicines has been immortalized in a Nigerian Movie, yet the art was never up-graded to a professional entertainment status. The boy who, for obvious reasons, did not have much education, was able only to start a Patent Medicine Store, in one corner of Enugu - without the dancing, of course. The living he made out of the business was nothing to write home about.

Also, in the 1940’s, an unbeatable Dance for Boys, named the: “Etilogwu”, meaning: “Is Medicine/Magic Added?” which, (“Like Johnny Walker (Whiskey), born 1860, still going strong”), is still going ever strong, in its agility, rhythm, cohesiveness, unison, and creativeness; combining native original dancing choreography, acrobatics and aerobics. This is the dance that Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, as Minister of Aviation, after negotiating a partnership of the Nigerian Airways with the Pan-American Airways in 1982, took to the US, with two royal trumpeters, on the maiden flight – Lagos to New York – which he captioned: “Operation Fantastic”.

And there is yet another Dance for men and women: the “Akwu N’eche Enyi”, which surfaced in the 1950s as a refinement of the ancient: “Ijele Masquerade Dance”. The name means that: “The Thicket Protects the Elephant”. The melody and powerful rhythm of the drumming, the eerie calls of the native flute and the regulated monotonous chiming of the metal gong in the music of this Dance, compulsively, prompts everybody to jump up and to start moving and dancing, in any way possible. Michael Jackson’s earlier performances had affinity with the quick, electric, choreography of Ajasco and Etilogwu Dances; while his Rehearsal Tapes of the 50 Nights World Show has a great deal of resemblance to the slower, mellow, relaxed steps of the: “Akwu N’Eche Enyi Dance”.

In all of these, one would ask: Did Michael Jackson ever have an opportunity to witness any of the performances of these Dances, as to observe anything from them? Or were the semblances of his dancing and choreography all natural, as they are to these Igbo Dancers?

There should be no wonder that Michael Jackson was in physical pains, from his dancing, most of his life? Watching him dancing, one would observe that his whole being – body, soul and intellect - was totally engaged, consumed and involved! He was completely focused in his singing, movements and rhythm, and unreservedly immersed and enwrapped in them. He reserved no energy; and spared no pains! I have always wondered: What gives him such energy and strength?

He performed for the old and young of all the races of humankind – good, bad, indifferent! For instance, in 1995, when he did the promotion for the Jackson-Five, it was my three-year old grand-daughter, who would always run to call me as soon as Michael Jackson appeared on the TV Screen; she would hail: “Gamma, Gamma, Mackey Jashin”.

He loved to perform, and loved the people for whom he performed! He lived for the satisfaction he derived from the practice of the Art of: Singing, Dancing and Entertaining; from people’s appreciation of his exhibition ns. He went to great lengths to satisfy his fans, and to keep their attention on him! He lived for and advocated compassion and love!

The Man in the Mirror was a thoroughbred genius! His life-style was exclusive, eccentric and enigmatic! He earned big, spent big, and gave away big! He did not keep what he earned for himself. He was very rich and powerful in life, in living, in loving and in giving! And it promises that he will be even richer and much more powerful in death! His children, family, friends and lineage would be fabulously and stinking-rich!

Thanks be to God, who created Michael Jackson, and gave him the parents and siblings he had! To my mind, his father was in his life just as an agent to perform the inevitable function of compelling him into action; just as Judas Iscariot was in the life of Jesus - to fulfill the prophesy of: Betraying Him! Thanks be to God, he did not say that he hated his father! Thanks be to God who made Michael the vehicle for such richness of talent, love and wealth that he was!

Thanks be to God that he left three children – hopefully, his biological offspring - who could be chips off the old block; or could learn to be, by training, what their father was! Thanks be to God for his legacies and their preservation, in indelible Videos, DVDs, and the like. Thank God for family, friends and employees, who would stand up for Michael Jackson, through thick and thin!

Thanks be to God for the Rehearsal Tapes of the 50-Days World Tour Show, which he had said would be the last Curtain Raiser for him; in which he was seen, performing for the last time, to be as lively, robust, and agile, as ever! Though these will make the memory of Michael Jackson physically palpable yet, even without them, he would live in the hearts and minds of the people who loved him, which is said to be not to die, but to live for ever!

Michael Jackson bowed out of the stage of this life when the ovation was loudest! He did not, and could not, wait to become an invalid – a bed-ridden, or brain-damaged, patient - in the wheel chair! At a time like this, people would wish that time could be pulled back, so that those things that were left undone, could be done; and those things that were done wrongly, could be righted. He was born to be great; and he became the greatest; attaining the title of: “King of Pop”. He ruled and reigned in the eyes, hearts and minds of the world! And there he will stay, forever, like the classics - Beethoven, Shakespeare, Einstein, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, etc! He will be mourned; and his life and legacies celebrated, indefinitely!

Michael Jackson, Ga ije-gi nke-oma! Na-n’udo! Zue ike gi na-ndokwa! Ka emesia! Nodu mma! May the Angels of God receive your noble soul, and give you eternal rest, in perfect peace in the bosom of the Lord! Amen!!!

2 comments:

ebiz said...

So, how do we revive AJASCO dancing in Eastern Nigeria? I grew up at Enugu in the 60's In those days, we, the children having watched Uk'onu's club Saturday would spend the weekend practicing away at the virtuosity of Gentleman Ajasco, Stining Mosquito, Wiper Merenge ant the rest! Those were the days when the entire East had one redio station and the whole Igbo race listened to and heard one voice at the same time. Alas!
O tempore, O! mores!

What are our "Nollywood" artistes doing that we let AJASCO art die away? How are our innumerable chief helping cultural revival? Do we not have academics that might be intersted in reviving this great and unique artform?

PS:
My big sister was a pioneer student at GTS Aba 1965 when you were the principal....

SARAH said...

I read most of your blog but am a little confused that with your profile, u did nothing to write Awkuzu history and culture nay nne Iguedo. Its indeed pitiable that those with your standard elsewhere is helping their community