Let it rain

Moonga performs at The Fringe, Joburg Theatre on 14 November 2013
Moonga performs at The Fringe, Joburg Theatre on 14 November 2013

Last week was a high pressure week. It started with my first television interview and performances on SABC’s Morning Live and then moved to another radio interview on Channel Africa’s Gateway to Africa on Wednesday. Thursday the 14th of November was the book launch and my first concert. Looking back after all the nerves, I can smile at all that I have learnt and what I looked forward to bringing to my future shows. It all feels like sweet rain that has come to wash the old away and bring in a new start. When you have walked in faith for a long time, the road’s ups and downs can be tiresome. This week I want to share with you a lyric from my book, Where to Now and its accompanying story. I feel it best describes all the emotions that the past two weeks have brought. Enjoy.

Till the next time,
MOONGA

Pula

There comes a time in a nation’s life,
When the healing must begin.
There comes a time in a people’s strife,
When the chains are too hard to bear.
We feel the dawn beyond the clouds,
As the wheel of time spins round and round.

There comes a time, to celebrate.
Forget the past and elevate
The truth that comes from the light within,
As we embrace the winds of change.

Pula, Pula,
Let the river of life
Refresh our land.

Pula,
Let it rain,
Let new life spring forth.

There’s a light that shines on me
Telling me I can be free.
There’s a brother and a sister near
Whose call I cannot ignore,
’Cause I feel the dawn beyond the clouds
And I smell amazing rain.

Pula, Pula,
Let the river of life
Refresh our land.

Pula,
Let it rain.
Let new life spring forth

Pula

There comes a time, to celebrate
The truth that comes from the light within.

Pula

Forget the past and elevate
As we embrace the winds of change.

***

In 2007, I shared a flat with a total stranger who became a close friend and support through our shared space. His name was Brian Mangare, an all-round hustler; one of the most enterprising people I have ever met. His rough exterior masked the fact that he too was an artist, a painter, and he encouraged my song writing. I tested my songs on him and his many guests and he always told me the truth. It wasn’t uncommon for Brian to wake me up at 3am to introduce me to one of his visitors which often turned into some sort of concert.

On one such occasion I was introduced to a band I had never heard of called C-Mon & Kypski. They were visiting South Africa from The Netherlands for the Oppikoppi Festival. After hearing my songs, they encouraged me to explore some of the negative emotions I felt; my songs were too sweet at the time. I started to think about my frustrations and a big one was knowing that I was South African by descent but not feeling like I was part of the citizenry. I resolved to accept – my heritage and it stirred in me a sense of nationalism – the good and bad of South Africa was mine to deal with. For the first time, I did not see myself as an immigrant but as a South African. Pula,which means rain in Setswana is a song about healing and a fresh start. Pula was a metaphor for the healing I needed in my own life and the newness I experienced by embracing my South African identity. Thank you Brian.

Advertisements

MC Hammer vs. Dubai

Hammer vs DubaiIn 2005, I was in a mathematics lecture when a thought crossed my mind. Dubai, one of the seven Arab Emirates, now synonymous with wealth and opulence was but a desert 50 years ago. I began to think about how the discovery of oil and its prudent exploitation by the people of the UAE have turned them from poor nomads to one of the wealthiest people on the planet and wondered if there were any parallels I could draw for my own life. Could oil for a nation be equated to musical talent for my life?

As I sat there learning the advanced mathematics that could be applied to finance and statistics, I started to rethink my musical ability. Suddenly I saw it as an oil well that could enrich my life for years to come in much the same way that the oil wells of the UAE had done for that country. I noticed further that the UAE has taken a move to diversify their economy to reduce the dependence on oil and this got me thinking about many artists such as MC Hammer who made and lost fortunes in the music industry almost overnight. I realised that before I made a single dime in the music industry, I needed to know what I would do with it. I needed to plan for the next phase before I had even begun.

You see, in talent management, the planning phase is the most difficult and the most crucial. You need to know that if you have a hit song or get some attention for your work, it will be at the expense of someone else who was famous before you. Stars come and go and so will you. What matters therefore is what you do during the time the spotlight is shining on you and how well you are able to channel that attention in meaningful and profitable ways. The sad reality is that if you are on stage and the spotlight is shining in your face, you can’t see ahead of you –  and this is why you should have done your planning before your vision was compromised.

This reality isn’t just limited to artists or film stars. Professionals too have a similar fate albeit more sinister. It is a fact that most people who retire in South Africa do not have enough savings to maintain their lifestyles after retirement and most live in poverty after they retire. Whereas artists need to take advantage of the spotlight when it shines, professionals need to make the most of their youth and store up for the time when their strength will cease to be what it was.

Back to our oil analogy, I also realised that to exploit oil wells requires a great many skills to take the oil from crude in the ground to the high value refined oil products that bring in the real wealth. I therefore needed to learn all the skills in the music value chain and learn to do them myself because the only progress that matters, is the progress that you can control. Dependence on others to reach your goals always results in frustration. I am not saying that there is no room for working together or creating synergy. No; what I’m saying is that unless you can get into the habit of making small steps and achieving small victories, you will not build the confidence in your own voice which marks the cornerstone of your competitive advantage.

A true artist understands that the creation of art is a luxury – a privilege – and luxuries cost money. This is why besides learning your craft, you need to learn the work of everyone who contributes to your value chain and understand how they make money and then enforce agreements that make sure that if you don’t make money from your talent, no one else should.

Till the next time,
MOONGA