A Different Difference
Human beings will always be different from one another. If it isn’t skin color, it’s accents. If not accents, then philosophy or ideology. Whatever it is, we have a quick eye for spotting things about others that we’re not familiar with: whatever may raise some question about our very existence. Because of this, hatred’s seeds bud best in the soil of difference. Difference seems to always form the basis for hatred.
That’s why I thank God for the church as it was meant to be. Within the authentic church, difference becomes the basis for something else: something more beautiful and life-giving than hatred. In the Church, Christ is the basis for love, and there is neither Jew nor Gentile, man nor woman, Akan nor Ewe. Difference works differently. Difference becomes the basis to love and be loved. That’s a different kind of difference that I’m learning can exist only when people lay down their lives for each other.
"Right here" by M.anifest, Ghana’s reigning Hip-Hop artist of the year, featuring yours truly from his new album, #Apae.
Buy #Apae online via iTunes or Spinlet, or physical CDs at a Woodin store in Accra, Ghana.
Must be a blessing
I have to consider myself thankful, and privileged if you will, to have found my reality somehow interrupted by the The Community of Adsideo - a body of believers who fully celebrate God and live out their convictions in a way I often struggle to understand. Each time our lives intersect, I’m challenged further by their love for one another and their devotion to Christ to evaluate my own convictions and the fullness of what faith means.
I can’t help but be thankful for what surely must be a blessing.
The studio, the stage, and the sting in between
I absolutely love music studios, especially the ‘Skillions lab’ in Accra. It’s quite the magical place, where I get to transform silence into music and sound waves into megabytes. Recording music is quite the cool craft, transforming a fluid & immaterial artform (music) into something still not tangible but more permanent (recorded music). I love love love recording music. The safety of the recording booth, and the convenience of the delete key make it a space the perfectionist in me feels most at home in.
The stage is this other very, very magical place. It’s where music comes alive. Music is a nomad. It’s home isn’t on CDs, iPods, stereos, etc. It’s home is the wind, the air, travelling between the instruments and vocal cords of the musicians into the ears and hearts of the listeners. While in the air, it gets blended and unified with the energy of both performer and listener, travels into the ears and hearts of the listeners, and circles back into the heart of the performer to continue this unearthly cycle. The stage is where I get to be part of this beautiful process called ‘Live music’. I prefer to call it ‘Alive music’.
Sadly, the journey from the studio to the stage stings, and sometimes stinks too. I’ve lost countless hours, calories and cedis in between these two magical places, and found frustration, exhaustion and disappointment. There is certainly a lot of joy in long rehearsals, numerous media appearances, writing press releases, designing tickets, etc. But those things matter the least to me in my life, or at least matter far less to me than recording and performing music do.
But you know what makes the sting worth it? You know why I bother with the stink of running all over the place? The same reason the chicken crossed the road - to get to the other side. To get from recording music all the way to performing it, there is a windy & bumpy road that must be crossed. For me to share all my gifts with others, to give my life away in the best way I know how, to honor the call that God has given me to share my faith, I need to be stung. I love the studio, I love the stage, and I need to love the sting in between.
This man will rest
plagued with doubt,
in a man unfamiliar with honesty,
a heart barely beating,
was long left by the man himself to bleed on the streets of faith
Lying on streets once brightly lit,
but now, paled.
This light is flawed,
for it has failed,
fallen far from the perfect light
that his heart just knows exists,
but has never truly known.
His heart lays there, shivering,
behind pretense and in fear of being trampled on
by the very people it beats for.
But the veil could and can’t stop the bleeding,
and never will,
and this man can no longer run
as fast, worn and torn
by and between
So this man will rest
and remove the veil
because his heart has met another,
also bleeding, yet without a veil
and more familiar with honesty.
This man will rest,
and be still,
and on bended knees he will go
praying for God to save his soul
Because the only thing that can stop the bleeding
is that Light,
the One he has never truly known,
but only knows that he truly needs it.
The last card
I’ve been refraining from posting much about the George Zimmerman case. The media has perhaps been sinking its teeth a little too deep into the Trayvon Martin case, and making sure I know so much more about it than what’s going on right now in the city of Goma, DR Congo.
But nevertheless, it is a tragedy. To think that a family will never hear from their Trayvon, and to think that his side of the story will never be heard especially because it died with him, deepens this tragedy. Monitoring the course of events has felt like watching a drama movie, except that it’s real hurt and real pain and real people. Anyone who knows me knows I’m ever the last person to bring up matters of race. I’ve lived in the US for only two years, studying at one of its most liberal colleges. In other words, I’m only just discovering what race is, and what racism really looks like.
But outside the jury box, the courtroom, outside the Zimmerman and Martin families, lookers-on like myself are genuinely confused, minds reeling for answers. I’ve come to understand that the race card is an uncomfortable one to pull. It’s nebulous, and tired. I don’t think people of color enjoy pulling it out for pulling it out’s sake. Yet it’s been pulled out by many after the Zimmerman verdict, and as much as I’m trying not to, I’m drawn to do the same. Not out of ignorance, but out of a lack of any other viable options. It’s the only card I have left.
If someone has any other options, please please share with me because Lord knows I don’t want to pull that card. But until that happens, until someone, perhaps a member of that jury, gives me something else that’s viable enough to pull out, race will be the card on the table for me. And before you suggest another card, please watch MSNBC’s Martin Bashir ask some tough and valid questions. Before you ask me to keep that card off the table, tell me how this verdict can be given in the same state and time period as this one concerning a [black] florida mom sentenced 20 years for firing warning shots.
If justice in the US had a race, I’m inclined to think that it wouldn’t be black.
The honest state of mine
Has honesty become all too rare, like green patches in a desert, like sunshine in a Ghanaian July, so rare that people get alarmed and shocked whenever they meet it, and they don’t really know what to do with this shock so it ends up turning into hurt, anger, anguish?
I have a lot more to learn about honesty. Not that I don’t know what it is, and it’s not like I enjoy lying or anything of the sort, but I don’t think I value it enough. I say that because each time I’m faced with the sticky and delicate choice between peace and honesty, I just go for peace.
If integrity is about being truthful with one’s self, I like to think I have the integrity thing down. I know my convictions, I form strong and balanced opinions, and examine them often. If I’m having a bad day, I don’t even try to hide it from myself. If I have feelings for someone, I quickly admit them, to myself. If I believe Jesus is THE way, truth and life, I confess that, to myself.
But if honesty is about telling the truth to others, even when it costs peace, then I have a lot of work to do. For some reason, I’ve always placed a higher premium on peace. Perhaps growing up and hearing stories about the previous absence of it in Ghana may have contributed, I don’t know. Maybe growing up with a stammer may have wired me to take that less confrontational route, I’ll never be sure. But all I know is that each time it seems my honesty will cost me a lot of peace, I keep it in my pocket.
Maybe we haven’t been more graceful in our honesty? I’ve met enough rude and opinionated folk who serve their honesty cold, corrosive and bitter. Perhaps we need to serve it warm, soothing and maybe even sweet. I don’t know. Or maybe we’re making honesty difficult for peace-huggers. We ask questions, and then expect answers in a certain way and get upset when we hear something we don’t want to. It seems we don’t really want honesty, cause if we did there’d be less getting upset about getting it.
My music seems to be the only external place I feel safest with my honesty. If people get offended listening to it, the blame is a little further from me because they pressed play, or tuned in to that radio/TV station, not me. If people like the honesty too, goal. I suppose honesty is one of those things that hit the heart straight, because it’s from the heart. Each time I’ve been honest, my heart has felt lighter, as though I laid off a piece of it, which is probably why songwriting has always felt so liberating. Perhaps in God’s wisdom, He gave me this gift for this very purpose too.
I’m still going to try being honest with people even if it costs me peace. I mean, I guess I can find peace later on, right?