Michael Jackson curtain falls on a legend

By Niyi Egbe

For close to an hour, I stayed glued to the tube, praying and fearing that the dreaded news would not come true. Even when media might Cable News Network, CNN had given an indication that LA Times and CBS had confirmed the death, I was wishing that a reversal would come somewhat. Through CNN or whichever channel, I just expected a negation of the unfolding news. After all, we were seeing the Ronald Reagan Medical Centre in Los Angeles where he had been rushed to live. Sure, there was a crowd thickening, largely of newsmen wanting to break the news, and of course of ardent fans hoping against hope that the icon would come back. How sad, my hope and that of millions worldwide was to be dashed.

The transition to the great beyond of Michael Jackson, the incredible music legend and maestro came like a bolt from the blues. Who would have expected it, especially after he had promised a showdown in London, in barely weeks away! As the reality stared me in the face, I recall alerting family friends in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who were as aloof as most people were. Thanks to information technology, I was breaking the news of an event happening right there in the United States to them from Nigeria in Africa. Of course they tuned in to CNN and other media, hoping just like us and others worldwide that Michael would resurrect from the land of the dead.

Hard luck for incurable optimists, Michael had his time on this terrestrial ball. He exists now only in our minds, with imprints enameled in the sands of time. He had gone the way of all mortals, the wonder pop king and icon had gone to sleep and no magic wand existed that would rouse him from the deep and indeed irreversible sleep! The greatest of pop music stars could not invent the expected come back, the music and dances had ceased, he had sung his last!

Michael Jackson was truly larger than life. He came to the world, conquered and got conquered by death, which is a debt that all mortals pay, willy nilly! He was not born into royalty, but through the exercise of his divine gifting and wits, he shared the lime lights that not even a thousand royalties would merit.

You needn't be a fan of wacko Jacko to appreciate his music. Hate him or love him, whatever your choice, you could never miss the peculiarity of his sonorous voice, his mesmerizing dancing, sometimes you would wonder how come the fibrins binding his caudal vertebrate and hips didn't ever give or how come he could safely ape demons as manifest in some of his choreography without them long taking the breathe off him much more early.

The music of Michael, the youngest of his other four brothers was compellingly intrusive. The audio of his chart torpedoing hits compelled a swing or jive in public or in the closet. More so, when you come in touch with the video clips. From ordinary stage manning to frightening aping of the spirit world on stage, Michael Jackson was one artist that you wouldn't easily resist. You couldn't for close to the four decades that he was on the global music turf.

As we mourn and salute one of the greatest of mortals, it is useful to consider a few lessons from the life and times of the late Mr. Jackson. 

Expectedly, the African Americans are quite hit by the loss of one of its own. Michael was born on August 29, 1958, at the heights of racial segregation. In his prime the American nation was still in the throes of ethnic chauvinism. As a black man, the prescription of his society was that he was less man. If he had to board buses, he would have to be distant away from his fellow Americans who were privileged to have white skin. The racial divide was so thick that the dream of equality between blacks and whites was a far dream. It was so cruel that the dream of equality of the American black to his white contemporary by the famed Baptist Priest Rev Martin Luther King Jnr was simply snuffed off him, terminated via the assassin's bullet. 

Fortunately, different men with melanin pigmented skins did not allow a termination of the dream. They employed myriad approaches in the struggle for freedom. A few of them did depend on all that their natural talents could employ, especially as educational opportunities were quite unaffordable. The American black fought his way to freedom through sports, the arts, music, politics, the sciences, names it! The end of the prolong struggle seems to have arrived now, hopefully, unambiguously so, with the ascent of President Barack Obama to the White House.

It will be useful to cite a few of those great minds in the struggle. Take the story of Jesse Owens. At the 1936, Olympics, the incredible athlete, made nonsense of the persuasion of Adolf Hitler that the white race was superior through his incontrovertible victories at the Berlin Olympics, right there before Adolf Hitler! In that game, African American Jesse Owens wrecked Hitler's pride through convincingly winning the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the long jump event. He capped it up by winning a fourth gold medal in the 4 × 100-meter relay race.

Another apostle of the freedom of the black man is Louisville, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., the better known "The Greatest" Mohammed Alli, who through the tool of boxing won pride for the American nation and consequently, his constituency, the black race. Originally named after famed Kentucky abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay, Clay, later Mohammed Alli, began boxing at a tender age of 12 years. By the time he was 18, Alli had set a whooping record of 100 wins in 108 fights. Some of the titles included the 1959 International Golden Gloves heavyweight title and gold medal as the light heavyweight champion a year after at the Olympic Games in Rome, Italy.

Alli continued his victorious wins, to the extent that four years after his feat in Rome, he had won 19 professional wins and at 22 years old, his fire power overwhelmed Sonny Liston and earned him world heavyweight champion, proclaiming himself The Greatest. Alli the big mouthed flamboyant boxer proved all the way that his victory wasn't a fluke. In his professional fights, he downed George Foreman, Joe Frasier. And what a wordsmith he was. ! Hear him: "Nobody heard of Vietnam until there was a war. Nobody heard of Korea until there was a war. Nobody heard of Zaire until I fought there, and paying me is a whole lot cheaper than fighting a war." Also this: "You know I hate fighting. If I knew how to make a living some other way, I would". And describing his boxing style the greatest quipped: "Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee."

Back to Michael Joseph Jackson. He became known as the "King of Pop," following his great shows and all time chart buster hits like "Thriller" and "Billie Jean". He invented new dance moves that make you wonder is he had a vertebra column. His dance steps would for long be imitated by legions of fans worldwide, in life and death. It is on record that his record sales were well over 750 million; the figures are increasing after his death. He famed "Thriller" in 1982, yielded seven top-10 singles. That album sold 27 million worldwide, 21 million copies of that in the United States alone. Besides, he grossed as many as 13 Grammy Awards, making him an all time entertainment great.

From his position as a successful entertainer, he easily attracted his Black American big brothers who stood with him at different challenges in his lifetime, especially during his famed child molestation trial. Then, Michael was a pitiable sight. He barely dragged his frail body to the court rooms supported by the likes of Rev. Jesse Jackson and of course, his body guards.

Despite his great achievements, some of his fellow blacks could hardly reconcile his inglorious submission to the scalpels of plastic surgeons. Years after big brother James Brown had said it loud that he was "black and proud", Michael went on an insane path of transforming himself to a white man! He went the hog, even getting his nostrils pointed like his white Yankees! Poor him, there was no way a million plastic surgeries would mask his being a black man. In the end, he fell out of favour with quite a number of rational minds. Besides, he had to cope hard with the side effects of attempting to be cleverer than his creator.

Also, he couldn't settle down to normal life. He got married to Lisa Marie, Elvis Presley's only child in 1994. As had been predicted, the marriage ended in divorce in 1996. The same year, he married Debbie Rowe the same year for three years ending the marriage game in1999. Even then, their two children never had the benefit of having both parents living under the same roof. In all he had three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II.

We feel with his kids who of course are too young to appreciate the great dad they had. All said, Michael was a great life. He utilized to the optimum, his divine gifting as singer and entertainer. Leaving one with the yawning soul searching question, has one given his best?

Like all mortal, Michael Joseph Jackson, has translated to the great beyond. His fate after life will be determined by his creator who knew him through and through. For us humans, we would be having him turn comfortably in the grave when we heed his request during his brief lifetime to "make the world a better place for you and for me"! Adieu Michael the great!

Niyi Egbe

A Media Practitioner lives in Lagos Nigeria