Fri Oct 21 22:29:51 SAST 2016


By unknown | Aug 21, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

HOW wonderful that Caiphus Katse Semenya is gracing our newspaper's pages - and it's not in the obituary section.

HOW wonderful that Caiphus Katse Semenya is gracing our newspaper's pages - and it's not in the obituary section.

If there is anything glorious to say about this icon it must be said at this moment, when he can still hear it and revel in the splendour of his illustrious career.

I am not sure whether it is possible to lift a great man up but since he turns 70 this week I'd like to cheer him on and thank him for sharing his wonderful gift of song with us.

All the negativity we are exposed to in our society leads to a gradual hardening of the heart.

But my cynical heart simply softened as it always does in the presence of Caiphus. It's not only his immense talent as a musician and composer that makes leaves me in absolute awe but also his humility, warmth and wisdom.

These attributes are reflected every time he walks into a room and greets those around him. This rare combination of talent and ubuntu explains why he has been so successful in his work and marriage.

Fifty years of composing songs and 44 years of dancing to one matrimonial tune is legendary and inspiring. It says a lot about the character of the man and what he stands for. And that is worth a celebration.

I had the honour of interviewing Caiphus on his birthday on Wednesday.

At the end of our conversation I could not help but shed tears of joy because I was inspired by his magnetic presence.

He gave me hope and made me believe that it is really possible to give the best of what we have and be successful in our work and relationships, without compromising our humility. What a gracious human being, what a star.

When Sharon Dee sang Local is Lekker it was at a time when local artists were amplifying their voices, fighting for more airplay.

The campaign to entice South Africans to buy local music also saw the launch of the Ek sê, Mamela initiative that encouraged radio stations to play more home-brewed sounds. The aims of this project were sound but there was something tragic and pathetic about teaching South Africans to appreciate local music.

It's no wonder some self-respecting, proud artists rejected it. Inertia set in and, inevitably, the campaign lost steam.

It's true that not every South African artist is worthy of this name and some of the sounds that pass for music are actually junk.

You get junk in the United States as well but it is packaged and glamorised and sells like hot cakes.

Music, art, fashion and literature are personal choices informed by the individual's own preferences.

You can't legislate against people's choices and the world would be poorer if that were the case. But maybe we need to admit that sometimes our lack of appreciation for talented South African musicians, designers and writers is a reflection of self-hate and an inferiority complex. What a travesty that our own insecurities about who we are prevent us from elevating our own heroes and heroines.

It will take years to erode the severe damage inflicted on our psyche as Africans. It will take a lot of hard work to silence the raging voices that tell us we are not worthy and have very little to offer to the rest of the world.

People like Caiphus have done their bit to debunk this myth.

In another interview he was asked what it feels like to be a legend and his response explains why he is indeed a legend: "When people tell me I'm a legend, I am surprised. I never pictured myself in the bright lights. I just wanted to be a composer.

"When I look at my life, my defeats, my victories, I am humbled. My work is not yet done. I still have to write one extra song that will make people say 'wow'. Only then will I reluctantly accept the title legend, and then not with a capital 'L'."

Well, Caiphus we have been saying "Wow" to your work for many years and look forward to many more "wows". Happy birthday.


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