Let us love people when they are still with us
2017-01-15 16:00:40 -
Thomas Baganineza

I love Nigerian music with passion. To me it feels like a blend of South African and Congolese music with special Nigerian vibes and sounds. When I dance to it, I really feel it in my system. I can even boldly say that any African party without Nigerian music is a boring one.

But growing up I was exposed to another kind of music. As a child I used to listen to Boney M, which I think it were and still are the world’s best music group. Formed in the middle of the 1970s, they were powerful in every way, singing both Gospel and secular disco music. Though they had some similarities with contemporaries like Ottawan, Kassav, Compagnie Creole, the Commodores, Eruption Group, over the years Boney M has kept their edge to a point that they were able to even celebrate their 40th Anniversary in 2015. Boney M would be the backbone of any setlist were I a DJ, along with Abba, Celine Dion, Vijay Benedict, Afric Simon, Fela Kuti and Westlife.

As you can see, my tastes are not exactly modern. But just as the Bible puts it, there is nothing new under the sun. Artists copy each other so much, I am of the opinion that the music of decades past is more original than what we have today. I will make an exception for the Swedish DJ Aviici, the performing name of Tim Berglin, mainly because of the meaning of the lyrics of his songs. In ‘The Nights’, he recalls how his father told him that one day he would leave this world, and therefore he should live a life he would remember.

The meaning of this song became so real to me just over a year ago, on 19 December 2015. On this day I had a clear but tough choice: to either be the best man at a wedding, or attend the funeral of my childhood best friend. A dilemma, indeed.
If you were me, what would you have done? I had to make a decision based on facts, not fiction. 

Just like Nik Kershaw sang: “I won’t let the sun go down on me.” In life, we all will be remembered for two things: the problems we solved and the problems we caused. I knew I would be judged based on how I lived with my friends when they were still alive. I decided to be the best man in the wedding and didn’t attend the funeral.

Some people who didn’t see me at the funeral condemned me, and I understand why. Some Africans respect and love the dead more than the living. Some come to attend a funeral not just because they are paying last respect or comforting the family of the deceased, but because they are so guilty to have failed to show real love and care to the deceased when they were still alive.

Having lost an unforgettable friend, I am comforted that he is in Heaven with Jesus Christ. As we look to the year ahead, may we remember that God is God of the living, not of the dead (Luke 20:38). Let us love people when they are still with us.
And if you feel guilty about something, remember the song by Jess Glynne which says: ‘Don’t be hard on yourself.’ Or anyone else, for that matter.

Thomas Baganineza is director at TugOfHope.org, a think tank focused on peace building, climate change and humanitarian crises.
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