Saturday, December 30, 2006

Psyche of a Modern African Male

Kofi Fosu Forson

Formerly in a township, the sound of some one being tortured could be a death song. This is much like the voices of people wailing at a funeral. In the forest, the howling of the wolf could signal the arrival of death. In a given country, the sirens of police cars and ambulances have a distinct sound. It also merits the immediacy of death.

When a thief hears the sirens of a police car passing by, his heart beats a little faster, his feet peddle a bit quicker. In ghettos around the world, the sounds of the police and ambulance serve as death songs.

What is a death song? Does death warrant a composition of its own? A death song could be the aura that surrounds a person under the spell of fear. The song is metaphoric. It is the unique combination of things that the person hears, from the sound of oncoming feet to cars passing by. The words to this song are all internal. They border paranoia. That particular voice within the conscience becomes apprehensive. This is usually caused by an inordinate amount of tension. The death song forecasts the emotional combustion.

The death song works well as a cinematic ploy. In a horror film, a certain key on the piano signifies approaching danger. Certain ballads are written out of helplessness, be it a jazz ballad, haunting vocals or a horn at a funeral. Despite the dark aspirations, they take on a quality of beauty. That it can be said--- “Strange is beautiful” “Death is a song.”

At a funeral, the death song encompasses everything, from the weather, temperament, clothing, food and the circumstance of death.

It is not however circumstances of death that presents a person with feelings of death. A rainy day or simply put, a cloudy day can bring on feelings of death. Frustration with smoking cigarettes can cause one to feel exasperated. The beginning of the work-week can present what is known as “the blues.”

The blues can then be called the precursor to the death song. The wealth of music found in the African culture has a notion of death in celebration, aftermath or redemption. Some can ascertain that as an African people, we come from death. It is from pain that we proclaim joy.

Every culture has its notion of what the death song is and it usually comes from misery. Not every one knows true happiness but we know pain. Country music is said to be music for the heart broken. African music has seen its share of the downtrodden and love affairs gone “bad.”

Africans are somehow immune to the notion of death. It’s an accepted part of the culture, as in the death rate of a ghetto.

The modern African male is sensitive to death. He hides behind a form of intellectualism. It varies from metaphysics to extreme politics. The modern African male's sensitivity is a form of strength, manifesting through to the years spent in education, interpreting American and European movies and literature.

The image of the black male has progressively changed over the years, from the jazz age through the civil rights movement to what is now perceived as "hip hop.” This continues to stress the important role of blacks in a postmodernist culture.

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