Artist Tribute - Prince Mensah

Lucky Dube, South Africa's incredible reggae star, was shot dead in a botched car-jacking near his home in Johannesburg on October 19th, 2007. Moved by his death, Prince Mensah wrote "Of Insane Acts". We asked Prince to discuss Lucky Dube's life and influence:

It was a chilling June dawn in Adisadel College, Cape Coast. The year was 1991. The form five and Upper Sixth students had completed their GCE Ordinary and Advanced Exams, respectively. They were feverishly packing their backs into waiting buses, eager to connect with the remainder of their destinies. I was a starry eyed Form Four student, salivating at the prospect of leaving boarding school the next year. There was a song that was being continuously played in a particular bus. Some of the words I heard were

Daddy, wherever you are, remember me
Daddy, whatever you do, I love you...

This sweet, haunting song led my curiosity to the knowledge that it was a song by one Lucky Dube. This muse from South Africa immediately gained a fan in me. From that time onwards, I followed his discography like I did with Bob Marley. This was a true African superstar, who managed to merge ingredients of reggae with local influences. To me, a Lucky Dube album was like a Nas album; it contained a kaleidoscope of emotions. ‘Remember Me’ is definitely my favorite Lucky Dube song but songs such as ‘Together As One’, attest to his universal appeal. I never got the chance to listen to any of his Mbaqanga or Afrikaan albums, but I can bet heavily on the fact that they are of the same excellence displayed on his English albums. His reggae version of ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’, to me, is the best rendition of that timeless song. Twenty-two albums in a twenty-five year music career is a glaring sign of hard work. This guy really loved his art.

Born in Ermelo (now Mpumalanga), South Africa on 3rd August 1964, Lucky Philip Dube was destined for the stars. Like many who overcome and then succeed in life, he had a rough beginning but did not let that stop him. He lived through one of the most despicable times in South African history: apartheid. He channeled his music against it. He was a poet with a C cleft on his tongue. His silky voice and charismatic personality was a refreshing essence.

On October 19, 2007, I was checking the Internet for African current affairs and the headline hit me with a splash of shock: ‘Lucky Dube Shot Dead’. I sat speechless for about ten minutes, imagining the last moments of his life. The smile on his face as he dropped his children off, the expectation of his children that Daddy would come back to pick them up. The carjackers and their quick prance to the car. His shock at their presence. At their pulling of guns. His pleas for life. The pulling of triggers. The merging of gunshots and cries for help. That was a terrible way to die, especially for one who had lived a chunk of his life fighting for the freedom that even the carjackers had enjoyed. It is up to us, the living, to make sure that freedom does not become an excuse to re-enslave our people to violence.

South Africa has surely lost a son. Africa has lost a fighter. The world has lost a superstar. For me, I have lost a part of my past that was sweet, proud and hopeful.

Rest in peace, soldier. The flags of our lives are flying at half-mast for you. Our voices offer, to your memory, a twenty-one gun salute.

Lucky Dube: 1964 - 2007

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