Thursday 2019-08-22

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FULL STORY

THE STORY OF ARTISTS, POLITICS

By Macford Sibandze | 2019-06-12

South African Afro-Soul musician Ringo Madlingozi has traded the microphone (momentarily) for the dog-eat-dog world of politics.

As you may know by now, a fortnight ago, he was sworn-in as a Member of Parliament for the fast-growing, fast paced and brutally frank Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, led by firebrand politician Julius Malema as its Commander-in-Chief.

The musical genius knows what this decision entails; that as he tramples on the ‘elephant’ (goes to toe with it) by association and otherwise; it means there would be a drought of gigs from government, as he now sits on the opposite table, with claws ready to pounce on the ruling party. This is because in many ways than one, there is a thin line between party and state.

Politics being what it is, the state may tighten its screws on Ringo, the musician-turned politician. 

The ruling party may also conveniently flood Ringo with gigs for its own mileage and brand activation. His party, the EFF, may not allow it! But Ringo is no small boy; he did his homework very well and knew that the buck stops here for an illustrious music career spanning close to four decades.

From where I stand, he has nothing to lose but everything to gain.

He has done it all in music; performing all over the world, making bucks and winning many awards. Having made social commentary in music, it’s time he makes it where it count most; in parliament.

As a musician turned activist, who penned revolutionary lyrics; he knows the plight of musicians and abject poverty right from the doorstep of his home in Khayelitsha in Cape Town.

ARTISTS AND POLITICS

The story of Honourable Ringo Madlingozi is common all over the world, where artists feel the need to extend their territory to politics! Who can forget one of Eswatini’s greats in literally work; Nkomeni Ntiwane?

A great writer of poetry, who contributed immensely in language development and cultural heritage. It is history that he became minister and diplomat. As we talk, a stand up comedian in Ukraine, Volodymir Zelenky, is the country’s president.

He put to shame Petro Poroshenko, who boasted too much experience in the field of politics. This underscores the fact that politicians have to undermine artists at their own peril.

HONOURABLE MDURA! HONOURABLE GEDLEMBANE!

Don’t be shocked when in the next elections we will have Honourable Mdura, Honourable Gedlembane, Honourable Dr. Shakes, Honourable Flowie, Honourable Bholoja, Honourable Symphony, Honourable Cheeks, Senator Sands, Senator Larry Mhlanga or Senator Amanda Mo.

This is real and can be real! I remember how political commentators and analysts made fun of Comedian Zelenky at the start of elections in Ukraine. They reduced him to a clown and at worse; a grotesque guinea pig. Today, they are eating humble pie as he put his bums in the seat of power.

 

FEAR

Most politicians fear artists because they are crowd pullers. In the hymn book of politics, anyone who can mobilise masses is a threat. Rumour has it that in Mali, West Africa, top musician, Salif Keita had politicians running helter-skelter when newspapers wrote that he would stand for presidency.

My goodness me; this was just a prank but politicians had sleepless nights you would think the weather forecast had predicted a volcano eruption. But who would blame them? Just next door, in Senegal, top world class musician Youssou N’Dour had been appointed Minister of Tourism.

Honorable Minister N’Dour is an A-list cultural export to have come from the shores of Africa, so says Forbes magazine.

In Liberia, a top FIFA, European soccer star, George Weah, is now the country’s president after years in parliament. So politicians’ fear of headliners in sports and culture is justified.

FROM ‘HALLELUYA AMEN’ TO ‘AYIII AND NEEE’

Mp Timothy Myeni, an award (s) winning gospel artist, is now in his 3rd term in parliament.

Honorable Frans Dlamini, a gospel artist of note, had two terms in the house. Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi Simelane, known as Magawugawu or Gawuzela, has joined the club of artists-turned politicians!

Instead of ‘Halleluya-Amen’ the gospel artists now use ‘Ayii and Nee,’ a language customary to parliament proceedings.

Since cultural industries and sporting industries are more or less the same, Mbabane East Mp, Hon. Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga, has to be welcomed in the same vein. From being a top soccer player, top coach to Mp and minister, is a great milestone that captures the imagination of youth and sporting aspirants. Just like George Weah.

EASIER SAID THAN DONE

On the surface, it looks like every successful artist or sport star can sing or dribble his/her way to the big stage of electoral politics. I wish it was. This road is rocky and thorny! ‘Lendlela Inameva,’ so says the struggle song.

It is for a selected few as there are so many determinants.

Let us not fool ourselves, even if it is for a minute; that all those who make us dance, sing, cry; those who evoke our inner emotions with their artistry hold a natural passport to electoral politics. NO! Many so called popular artists have tried 3, 4 or 5 times but fell off the trail. Others lose slightly and have another attempt and win with a landslide. It’s a tricky affair.

As Honourable Ringo Madlingozi takes to the august house, he has to read the script fast and know his lines quicker.

It has to sink to him that he will not be judged as a musician anymore but a politician. He will be ridiculed and insulted.

They don’t call it a dirty game for nothing…..it can even be deadly. Honourable Madlingozi has to be always on the look-out for grinning vultures, who are ready to pounce and scavenge on his carcass.

Maybe we are too obsessed with pessimisms; let’s be optimistic for once. Hon. Madlingozi welcome to the coterie; this can be the nicest circle on earth; with all its pegs and gratifications.

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