Thursday, July 28, 2011

i speak michael jackson

Today I was travelling from the Port Elizabeth airport back to Grahamstown. My shuttle driver Leon was a very Afrikaans man that barely spoke English, and I, a Xhosa and English speaker barely know any Afrikaans aside from the essentials i.e. ek kan nie praat Afrikaans nie (I can’t speak Afrikaans), ek kan nie verstaan Afrikaans nie (I don’t understand Afrikaans), ek is baie honger (I am very hungry), dankie and asseblief (thank you and please) – just enough to get by.

The hour and a half drive seemed like it would be a very long and quiet one because obviously Leon and I couldn’t have a conversation. But as we were pulling out of the airport, Leon said something in Afrikaans and all I picked up was “music” and “Michael Jackson” to which I replied “I love Michael Jackson!” Leon laughed and pulled out his MJ Greatest Hits CD. Leon and I sang along to all our favourite MJ songs word-for-word, with very dramatic gestures here and there. It dawned on me during my very raspy rendition of ‘Dirty Diana’ that true musical legends are able to reach people that they probably couldn’t even have a conversation with. Music is a language, and MJ spoke it well. 

 Leon and I couldn’t speak either of each other’s languages but we both spoke Michael Jackson fluently.

photograph sourced from micheal jackson website

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