Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Searching For Sugar Man

Yesterday evening I saw the movie Searching For Sugar Man, which was directed by the Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul. I had been intrigued by the hard-to-believe story of a down-and-out musician from Detroit, barely known in America, who nevertheless managed to be immensely popular in the Apartheid-era South Africa of the early 1970s. In fact Sixto Rodriguez managed to sell 1/2 million albums in the White-South African market of about 5 1/2 million people.

As the movie unfolds, we are told of Rodriguez' drug-use; his peripatetic existence; and his bizarre on-stage habit of singing with his back to the crowd. Having heard his songs, I must admit that his melodic voice does make him sound a bit like John Denver( strung out on drugs). And there is a deep melancholy about his lyrics. Two questions immediately came to mind: why didn't he make a move to California, where his folk-sound would have found a ready audience? And why didn't Americans catch on to his unique sound? Had he been under-marketed by the record companies? Or maybe, as a Mexican-American, was he "too ethnic" for the mainstream market? These questions linger.

Apparently, Rodriguez was totally unaware of his South African success and did not see a penny from royalties sent to his American record-label, Sussex Records. He therefore had to continue to work as a manual-laborer to pay the bills. But the story of Rodriguez doesn't end there. After being tracked down by his South African fans, he finally made a tour of South Africa in '98 and sold out six concerts. The concert-scenes in the movie are the movie's most poignant moments. Very moving! Very touching!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Zimbabwe: Bring Back The Leadership Code

I'm calling for the re-imposition of the The Leadership Code amongst all three of Zimbabwe's main political parties (Zanu-PF, MDC-T, and Zapu). We've just witnessed disciplinary action being taken by the MDC-T against twelve of its errant members serving as City Councilors, Mayors and Deputy-Mayors. Not to be out-done, Zanu-PF is engaged in one of its habitual factional imbroglios, as different factions square off to benefit from hunting concessions recently awarded in the Save Game Reserve.

Off-course, we also need an independent prosecution authority with teeth that can go after errant, pilfering politicians, but that's contingent on the political authority in place. What we need to do, first and foremost, is to bring back The Leadership Code -- the moral code-of-conduct which Zanu-PF itself adhered to from independence in 1980 until 1989 (it was quietly shelved in 1989).

This moral code was not perfect; some made fun of its provisions; whilst others violated its moral intentions from the get-go! Nevertheless, it did keep the brazen material aspirations of Zanu-PF bigwigs in check. After it was quietly shelved in 1989, all hell broke loose.

To check the brigandage that passes for political behaviour in today's Zimbabwe, it's imperative that all three of the main political-parties sign up to a new Leadership Code. This code would serve as a moral check on excessive greed. Absent of this, the brigandage, banditry and wholescale misuse of public resources will continue unabated, with all the main political parties taking part.